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Archive for April 2011

Casinos are always sending offers to guests, whether it be through direct mail or email or offers on Facebook. It’s really important to keep your message out there and keep your brand on the top of a guest’s mind, because, let’s face it, they probably gamble at other places. They are likely also receiving offers from other locations and weighing their options about what offers to choose and which to not redeem. If you try to make the offers easy to accept, then you will have the guests coming back for more from your property. Here are a couple of quick tips to making offers hard to refuse:

1. The offer should be of some value to the guest.

If you’re just consistently sending offers with slight discounts and never sending anything for free, it’s not likely that the guests will jump at the opportunity to receive 10% off of a daily room rate. Take a look at your occupancy records and find out what days the hotel never fills, and send out complimentary room offers on those days. Even if the guest is borderline in terms of worth, it’s better to have the person in your hotel with the potential to be spending money than at their own home or worse, at your competitor’s property.

2. The offer should be easy to redeem.

Ok step 1 is to give them something of value. Step 2 now needs to be making it easy to redeem. If a guest has to take too many steps to redeem an offer, it is likely that they will get frustrated and give up. Does the guest need to go through several web pages to redeem? Do they need to sit on hold forever on your reservation line? Do they need to print out multiple coupons or visit a long line at your loyalty club? The more hoops they need to jump through to redeem an offer, the less likely they are to redeem, or come back in the future.

3. Fine print.

The last thing someone wants to do when receiving a direct mail piece is spend an hour reading all the rules and fine print. If an offer is so complex that you need half a page, 5 point font, and the guest needs to break out the magnifying glass to read the rules, you might have a problem. Try and come up with offers that do not require a lot of fine print and “rules.” This will make guests much more likely to redeem in the future.

4. Create consistent content worth reading.

Finally, don’t just send offers just for the sake of sending something. This is especially true when it comes to email marketing. Have you ever heard the saying “less is more”? If a guest is receiving an email a day or multiple emails a day from a property and only occasionally something of worth comes through, than how likely is it that they will open your emails every day? Not very. I receive an offer every day from Groupon.com, and I always open the email, because they send me great deals! I have never been disappointed by an email I receive. On the other hand, every day I receive an email from Macy’s, and it’s usually just deals I can find if I go to my nearest store where they always have sales and promotions running similar to what is in the emails. So, I usually delete the Macy’s email every day. It is very rare that I open it. And this is exactly what you do NOT want your customers thinking when they see your emails in their inbox.

Works Cited

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I am more and more impressed by Caesars every day. I wrote a post a few weeks ago titled “Going Diamond” about how Caesars is offering certain members of groups and conventions to carry a Diamond level player loyalty card and enjoy some of the perks that high rollers are able to enjoy. I thought this was a great idea and Caesars has outdone themselves again.

Caesars is now offering Total Rewards bonus credits to people who use Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare, Instagram and Gowalla to check in to nine of the company’s locations with their mobile devices. In order to activate the program, guests have to go to TopGuest.com to activate an account and then they will receive 50 Total Rewards credits for each check-in.

Historically, casinos have stuck to only offering rewards points to those customers who gamble. Rewards points are generally not awarded for eating in restaurants, staying in the hotel or patronizing any of the other amenities a resort has to offer such as a spa. Aren’t your dollars just as valuable to a casino if they are spent in a restaurant than if they are gambled away in a machine? I would argue yes they are just as valuable, if not more-so. There’s a reason it’s called “gambling.” There’s always a chance the player will win or lose their money. And obviously a good majority of the time those dollars are lost, just because of basic house advantage and odds. However, the casino reaps all the benefits of dollars spent on a hotel room, or spa visit. The point of all of this is that my dollars should be valued, no matter where they are spent. This new move by Caesars to reward players or potential players for booking conventions or “checking-in” to their properties is in my opinion a step in the right direction.

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While Caesars has been struggling as of late to compete with companies in Las Vegas like MGM, Wynn and Las Vegas Sands, this seems like a step in the right direction in terms of attracting new customers. I am also very impressed with Caesars’ presence in social media as well. They are a company that to me are doing a lot of things right and getting creative in a time where creativity and new programs to attract customers are so important.

Do you think this is a good idea? What are some other companies you notice that have successful marketing ideas?

It is important to have an open relationship with your customers about the status of their player loyalty accounts. Customers are very savvy about how they are being tracked and rewarded for their loyalty, and the more open and honest you can be with them, the better it will be in the long run. I read an article pointing out four ways to have the “relationship talk” with your customers.

1. Get to the point: Players need to know how many points or rewards they have available for redemption. Sometimes it is hard to communicate this information to them. One good suggestion is to include point balances in monthly mailers, however, it is also important to note that point balances are moving targets and are subject to use.

2. Branding points: If you live in a market with multiple gaming facilities, such as Reno, it is very likely that your customers are gambling at other locations in addition to yours. If you can point out to your customers how you are better or different than your competitors in terms of benefits from player loyalty programs. Let your customers know how they can use their points. Do you offer comp multiplier days? Let them know! Is there a new way to redeem points? Let them know! They will appreciate it in the long run, and if you are providing more info than your competitors, your customers might think you are offering more or better benefits.

3. Tier anxiety made clear: Sometimes, a player must be upgraded or downgraded based on fluctuations in casino play. It is important to communicate these changes to your guests. In the case of a downgrade, be gentle. Nobody wants to be downgraded, but if a player is in danger of a downgrade, let them know what they need to do to retain their status.

4. Remembering anniversaries: Honoring longevity is a great way to let your players know you care and appreciate their business. Within your database, you should take note of which players are “new” and which players are your seasoned veterans. Offers and information should be directed differently depending on what level of player you are dealing with.

Keeping an open relationship with your customers will keep them coming back for more. What are some other ways you can keep the relationship talk open with customers?

I had the privilege of sitting through a lecture with Mark Lipparelli, Chairman of the Gaming Control Board, in which he addressed the ongoing Internet Poker situation. It was interesting to hear a new perspective, since you get so many stories through  the news, and it’s great to hear from someone who is relatively close to the situation. First of all, he made it clear that it was very difficult to say how this would play out now that the Government has taken control of the situation. I asked him if he had an opinion about whether this would be a gateway to legislation or a nail in the coffin for internet poker. He honestly responded that he really didn’t have any better a feel for it than anyone else. It’s all just speculation at this point. Next, I was able to ask him if he thought that the indicted poker companies would likely be restricted from being licensed if and when legislation does pass, and he mentioned that companies probably won’t be explicitly excluded, however, certain companies and politicians might be more inclined to back legislation if the big players are not involved. This is especially true for the large casino companies like MGM, Wynn, LV Sands, etc…who would be way behind the game if those poker companies were to be allowed into the mix. Another growing questions seems to be when will players be able to get their money back from these poker sites. Mr. Lipparelli has visited almost all of these facilities overseas and said that if it is a reputable company, it is likely they will return money to players. “When” is the real question players should be asking. I just read an article today that quoted 4-6 weeks, however, Full Tilt issued a press release stating: “There exists no authorized U.S. payment channel through which to make refunds.” It is going to be difficult to have banks issue checks, since one of the main claims against these companies is bank fraud. To sum it all up, it seems like nobody has all the answers. In terms of Nevada, Harry Reid is fighting hard for legislation and he is a good person to have backing an issue. Governor Sandoval has made it clear, as have many other state leaders, that a “Federal First” stance will be taken. That means the State of Nevada will not make any moves in the direction of legalization or legislation of Internet Poker until there is first action taken at the Federal level. And if you’ve ever paid attention to how laws are passed, you will understand that this fight is just in the infant stages. In the mean time, Nevada is preparing itself for that day, when legislation occurs, which it likely will at some point. It is very likely that the first state to have a regulatory process in place will be the main breadwinner in terms of taxes, and don’t we know Nevada could use all the extra revenue it can get. I personally have a feeling that this will take a long time to sort out. In the mean time, it will be interesting to watch the indictments unfold in New York, and what will become of PokerStars and Full Tilt in terms of a US market.

What are your opinions on this matter and how it’s unfolded over the past week?

I think I’ll take a short break from talking about all this Internet Poker mumbo jumbo and go off topic for a minute. Social Media strategies are becoming very important for casinos. The population is becoming more and more technologically savvy and they are going to the Internet to find information and deals. Based on an article that cites a study from retrevo.com, 56% of social media users check Facebook once a day, and 12% check Facebook once every couple of hours. That is a huge pool of traffic that the casino companies should definitely be dipping into. Below are 5 tips for a successful social media strategy by Frank Marquardt:

1. Know Your Voice: Your brand needs to be consistent. The readers should have a sense that they are reading your post even before noticing your name or logo. For example, the kind of Twitter posts you’d see from Hard Rock Las Vegas versus The Mirage Las Vegas to be very different. The audiences are different and therefore the voice should be different. Hard Rock’s tweets are mostly in response to people who post a question or comment about them, while the Mirage does much more marketing through their Twitter account. Posting offers is a great way to attract customers!

2. Time Your Content: People respond to content that is timed well. Your organization should have a calendar and a schedule for when your posts are going out. You do not want to overwhelm your audience with too much content. The content you do put out there should be well thought out and timed appropriately. In the example of Hard Rock and The Mirage above, if Hard Rock did release an offer, it would probably get swallowed up by all the “We miss you too” type comments. It’s nice to let your audience know you’re listening when they talk to you, but knowing the limits is also important.

3. Know Your Audience: This is a very important point, as not all customers are created equally. In the case of a casino, there are probably multiple business units within the property: gaming, restaurants, nightclubs, etc… You can bet your customers are coming for one or all of these outlets, and therefore it is important to talk to all of your customers. Take Wynn Las Vegas for example:

These are two separate posts directed at two obviously separate audiences, but Wynn knows how to target both customers by posting information that they know their audience would be interested in.

4. Solve Problems:Social media is a great place to solve problems for your customers. Many times, social media would be the first place a customer would go to either complain or rave about a previous experience. Check out the tweets from Caesars LV which I think are a great example of how to solve problems using social media:

They do such a good job of responding and directing their customers on how to proceed with their question or problem. One of them even goes so far as to confirm a reservation through Twitter! I think Caesars does a great job in this aspect.

5. Be True: Finally, be true. False information is so transparent. Your customers know when you’re lying or posting false information and they don’t appreciate it. Being true to your customers and your brand will only make your customers want to recommend you in the future, and hey, they may even become a brand evangelist!

What social media strategies do you think work best?

Wow, can’t a girl take a weekend off from blogging without the whole world collapsing?! Apparently not. As of Friday, BIG NEWS: the government has finally stepped in and joined the discussion on Internet Poker. If “joined the discussion” actually means taking over the whole conversation then I guess that’s what they have done. The owners of PokerStars, Full Tilt and Absolute Poker were charged on Friday with bank fraud, illegal gambling offenses and money laundering. All of the sites were shut down or seized by the government and if you try to log in to these sites you will see the following image:

Following this shutdown, the chips started falling. Wynn announced they were backing out of their deal with PokerStars. Caesars Entertainment and Station Casinos also had pending deals with online poker operators, however Station’s deal hinged on the ability for Full Tilt to be licensed, which doesn’t look to be happening anytime soon. The casino companies and poker companies weren’t the only ones affected. Politicians who received campaign contributions from PokerStars announced plans to return the money. Assembly Speaker John Oceguera, a democrat from Las Vegas, received $10,000 from PokerStars and said he intended to give the money back. Brian Sandoval and Rory Reid also received $10,000 donations from PokerStars claimed the money was returned last week.

In any case, this is shaping up to be a very interesting situation. While the partnerships between the casinos and internet poker companies mostly hinged on the ability for those companies to be licensed, they also signaled a certain confidence that the government would allow states to work through the loopholes of UIGEA. Clearly that is not the case. However, I also don’t think this is the end of the line for internet poker. In fact, it is more likely a path towards full legalization and legislation. The United States Government cannot turn a blind eye to internet poker forever, but they also could not continue to allow the companies to operate under the guise of legality. I will be very interested to see how the legislation will play out, and if there is federal legislation, will the existing poker companies overseas be licensable in the US? Originally, AB258 would not have excluded those companies from being licensed, however, new federal legislation may have something else to say about it. And that would not bode well for Caesars and Station casinos who are still in dealings with online poker companies. Stay tuned, because I’m sure this is a topic that will dominate the news and this blog for weeks to come.

It’s been about a week or so since I’ve written about the recent developments with Internet Poker, and a LOT has gone down. First, Washington DC surprised all of us by passing poker legislation. The new law will allow the district’s lottery to run an intrastate poker operation. It is estimated that if Washington DC starts operating an online poker site, they potentially could raise up to $13 million over the next three years starting next year.

Meanwhile, back in Nevada, where many thought for sure would be the first place to start legislating online poker, it appears we may have more hurdles than originally thought. Our new governor, Brian Sandoval, was interviewed on Nevada Newsmakers and stated that he thought Nevada should hold off on legislating online poker until the federal laws are revised and online poker is not explicitly illegal. He also wrote a letter to Assemblyman William Horne, the original author of AB258 – the law that addresses the licensing and regulation of online poker in Nevada. (As a side note, if you haven’t seen or read this letter, I highly encourage you to click through, as it is very insightful and interesting) In the letter, Sandoval states that while he feels it is important for the legislature to take the first steps in creating Nevada’s online poker regulatory framework,” he also hopes that “any bill passed will not facilitate the legalization of online poker before the federal ban is lifted, or encourage any action that would hinder the United States Congress’s efforts towards the lifting of the ban.” Basically, he is saying that in no uncertain terms, he plans to veto any bill legalizing online poker in Nevada until there is Federal legislation that also allows online poker, which doesn’t seem to be happening anytime soon. He also states in the letter that:

“While there may be some disagreement about tile scope of the ban, it is important that we not unintentionally expose the citizens of our state to civil and criminal liability. And, perhaps just as importantly, it is vital that we not undermine the State’s credibility as a thoughtful and conscientious regulator of gaming. Along these lines, it is important that the State’s effort to maintain this harmony is matched by our federal partner on this issue. Therefore, I would ask that any bill on this subject encourage Congress to enact legislation providing for the licensure of online poker as soon as practicable.”

I think he’s made his point pretty clear. It’s also important though to understand Sandoval’s background, which includes serving as a member and chairman of the Nevada Gaming Commission, so it’s safe to say he knows his stuff. He has also served as a US District Judge and Attorney General for the State of Nevada. It’s hard to argue that his position is not what’s best for the state – especially taking into account his experience both in the legal and gaming world.


About Me

This blog is devoted to the gaming industry news and information - keeping you up to date on the happenings in the gaming world. My personal expertise lies in event planning and entertainment in casinos.

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