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Archive for the ‘marketing’ Category

Or maybe that was an apple a day. Either way, the marketing world has been taken by storm recently with daily deal websites. From Groupon to Living Social to Deal Chicken, people are becoming obsessed with the newest daily deal. Google is at this time pondering purchasing Groupon for upwards of $6 billion. But this begs the question, should casinos get in on the “daily deal” action? I have occasionally seen casinos such as the Nugget in Reno and the Hard Rock Hotel Casino in Las Vegas on these daily deal sites offering things like room deals, or room and show ticket offers for 50% or more off retail. But does it make good business sense for casinos to be offering such deals?

The first question is will this drive incremental revenue to the property or will it simply encourage existing customers to get a discount on their next trip, which likely was already planned? The answer is that it probably depends first on what kind of offer you’re putting out there. A simple dining offer will probably get you a few extra customers, however it will also probably take away from space available for your regular gaming guests. So, that’s a bust. A room offer could be a good idea, if you make sure good controls are in place. The idea behind a room offer would be to drive cash revenue on rooms that otherwise would be empty. This can be done with certain restrictions or availability periods, however, be careful of making too many rules and regulations or you could turn off potential repeat customers. If your casino has entertainment, offers on show tickets is another option for a daily deal. These offers should be released when you know that you have extra tickets that would not normally sell at full retail. Then, at least you recover a portion of ticket sales that you would not have normally collected. Finally, and obviously, are gaming deals. These deals should only be directed and redeemable by “new” customers. The whole idea of offering 50% or more off of gaming is to encourage brand new customers to come in and try out your gaming product. It does your casino absolutely no good at all to offer deep discounts to your already loyal customers through daily deal websites. This is what you use direct marketing for.

So all in all, using daily deal websites can work for your casino if used properly. These deals should be evaluated heavily prior to entering any agreements with the deal companies. Take into consideration all possible problems that could arise from executing a daily deal. What happens if you sell more than you think you can handle? What if customers find a loophole in the fine print that allows them to take advantage of you? Think and rethink the deal before issuing it. And keep in mind, you do not want to drive your regular customers in with daily deals. Use your direct marketing for this. Daily deals should be used solely to drive new business.

Have you ever used a daily deal, or launched one through your company? How did it work? Do you think they are a good idea for casinos?

In celebration for acheiving AAA Five Diamond status for the third year running, The Venetian Las Vegas and the Palazzo Las Vegas, owned by Las Vegas Sands, are running a “Five Day Five Diamond” promotion through social media. All you have to do to join is follow @VenetianVegas and @PalazzoLasVegas on twitter and throughout the week this week they will be tweeting clues with the hashtag #5day5diamond about where on their properties you can find a “diamond.” Then, you have to snap a photo of yourself with the diamond when you find it and post it to Twitter with the hashtag and the Twitter handles of one of the properties. Prizes include high end gifts like a diamond necklace, spa getaway and free hotel stays at either property.

I think this is a pretty clever promotion. I am loving the use of social media to get cusomers involved. Yesterday, there were¬†a series of clues posted such as, “#5day5diamond Scavenger Hunt – Hint #1 looking for this Diamond might involve water. Hope you don’t get seasick. Rules: http://t.co/wItq1Wy” Yesterday, they included 4 separate clues, and based on the posted picures I saw, the diamond was somewhere along the canal, I believe in the Venetian, on a light post. If I lived in Vegas, I’d probably take a day this week to go scope out the property and try to find the diamond. It’s also a great way to promote the fact that your company just earned such a prestigious award. It gets people through the doors that may not already be venturing there, and it’s a good way to get your name buzzing on Twitter.

Overall, a solid promotion. Who doesn’t love diamonds?

This can become...

I just came across a very interesting article by David Schwartz from the Las Vegas Business Press about cost strategies for companies in the hospitality industry and it got me to thinking about the most logical and effective ways to deal with costs when the economy is not running at full strength. The obvious choice would be cut, cut, cut. Logically, if revenues are down, the easiest way to help boost margins is to cut costs. Many of the cost cutting strategies affect your front line employees, but this may not be the best way to approach your cost strategy. Eliminating the need for overtime, running skeleton crews during off-peak times and even eliminating free meals for employees (to name a few) can greatly affect the moral of your employees. And if they’re unhappy, you can bet at least some of that unhappiness will be passed along to your customers. In the years since the recession began in 2007, I’ve seen a few waves of layoffs and position eliminations as a cost cutting strategy. It’s very hard to be productive when positions are being cut left and right and you’re left wondering if you’re next. I’m not saying that this is a completely unnecessary strategy, but it seems to be the first place companies go to reduce costs and it’s often the most detrimental to the attitudes of the employees who are left behind. As a result of layoffs and position eliminations, remaining employees are also left with a greater workload for the same or sometimes less money than before. Yet another way companies are not helping the attitudes of employees.

...this faster than you may intend.

I haven’t even mentioned the cost cutting strategies that directly affect your customers such as reduction in comps or, like a Las Vegas casino recently did, elimination of comps and even revocation of comps. It doesn’t make sense to alienate your customers or scare them away just so the CFO can sh

ow improvement on the bottom line. There has to be a point at which upper management starts realizing that these cost cutting strategies may not be the best long term solution, and hopefully that does not happen before it’s too late and your customers have gone looking for greener pastures. As I’ve mentioned before, the gaming industry is experiencing a stagnation, and in some cases decline, and any strategy that sends your customers to a competitor because you’ve committed to a cost cutting strategy that negatively affects their bottom line is definitely not the smartest move in my opinion. Why should your customers wait in longer lines, or go to dirty restrooms just because you’ve cut your staff to levels that no longer make your organization as efficient as it can and should be?

It would be pretty naive to assume that cost cutting measures are always efficient, effective and full of sunshine and rainbows, but I would hope there are better ways to look at the BIG picture, rather than going for the most obvious choices that can seriously harm your most basic business practices. Using the charts above, using innovation to improve business rather than simply cutting costs or spending money on things that are simply sustaining the business can greatly help the bottom line and can put you a step ahead of your competitors.

Trust me, this is NOT where you want your business to end up.

It’s definitely important to be knowledgeable of what your competitors are up to, but how much time, energy and cash should your company devote to chasing them? With the recent declining economy and especially the hard hit the casino industry has taken, it is very important to stay on top of your game and fight for customers. In markets like Reno, and to a lesser extent, Las Vegas, it’s a fight with the guy down the street for business. But, I’m left wondering how much attention a company should focus on what the competitor is doing, and how much time a company should spend actually coming up with their own ideas or perfecting on ideas that are currently working?

For example, if a certain event or promotion is doing well down the street, should you spend tons of time and effort trying to copy that idea? Or just create your own idea and blow the guy down the street out of the water? I tend to lean towards the latter. Being innovative and creative is SO important when your industry is suffering as the casino industry is. I mean, to draw a parallel, if McDonald’s launches a new salad line, should Burger King IMMEDIATELY scramble to launch a competing salad line? Or should they try something new, like a new smoothie line (assuming that McDonalds has not already taken that approach). You get what I’m saying. I strongly feel that creativity is the key to success. Being innovative. Trying something new and different, not just copying someone else.

In the technology industry, the newest thing is tablets. Well, who created tablets? Apple of course. They came out with the iPad. Then, HP had a tablet. Then, Sony had a tablet. And so on and so on. Apple is the only one who did it right! They came up with the idea, did it right, and everyone else is left catching up. When Apple came out with the iPhone, it was super innovative, and the other companies I mentioned above followed suit and came up with new touch screen smart phones to imitate the iPhone. Then, Apple spent the next few years creating the iPad. If even ONE of these companies had skipped the step of the smart phone and basically INVENTED the tablet concept, they’d have a huge head start. But instead, technology companies are just waiting for Apple to come out with the newest, greatest thing and then they follow suit. Of course, I’m leaving out the fact that Apple is very trendy, and very good at what they do. They have incredible brand loyalty as well which is also very important. But the concept remains. When should a company forge their own course and stop following their competitors so closely?

The answer I’m sure is very complicated, and involves needing very smart, dedicated people on staff. What do you think about this situation? When is it prudent to be a follower and when is it more valuable to be an industry leader?

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Sure, it’s easy enough to think of a great promotion or special event idea. I’m sure there are people out there who would have attended a Royal Wedding party, but if it is not profitable or even potentially profitable, then you have a problem. Here are a few tips to use when planning a successful event:

1. Set Goals: Your goals could range from how many people you want to get through the door, how many new customers you’d like to attract or how much incremental business you will obtain by holding the event or promotion. The idea is to set goals. There is no way to evaluate your performance if you don’t have anything to measure the outcome against. It’s important to set goals related to customer experience and financial outcome and then of course you have to evaluate the event when it’s over.

2. Play Well With Others: While I’m sure you have amazing ideas, it’s important to include others in the planning process. Try asking the people who actually run the promotion or work on the casino floor if they see any potential problems with the promotion or if they can see any way to make it better. At the end of the day, the final decisions lay with management, but seeking out other opinions can never hurt.

3. Diversify but Don’t Stack: Not everyone will always like the same things. Not only is it important to always have something going on, but you need to attempt to attract the most guests that you possibly can. Sometimes there is a need to stack multiple events during the same time period, but keep in mind that stacking events drives down profitability and may end up costing more in the long run. Before stacking events, try and weed out the events that will drive the least amount of business and re-evaluate how you can tweek existing events to attract more business.

4. Measure and Evaluate. This goes back to point #1. Set goals and make sure to measure and evaluate those goals at the conclusion of the promotion. Use the results towards the future planning of events and how the success can be improved next time.

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5. Be Patient. Results will not happen overnight. In fact, changes implemented today might not yield results for days, months or even years in advance. The idea is to stick to the plan and use the tips mentioned here to plan into the future.

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This post is officially the last one that I am posting as a requirement of my Personal Branding class with Dr. Bret Simmons. But fear not fellow readers! I fully intend on continuing on this blogging journey! So, here it goes…

Get ready for yet another great example of rewards done right! I stumbled upon a social media promotion run by the Palms Resort in Las Vegas that I think is a great direction to go in terms of casino marketing. I have talked a bit about Caesars Entertainment and how they are rewarding guests for spending money outside of gambling. This Palms promotion is very similar. Guests who sign up on their website earn rewards for retweeting deals that are posted on the Palms twitter account. You earn 10 points for each offer you tweet and 250 points for each offer that one of your friends/followers purchase. You can use your points towards the following:

This is a fantastic way to drive new traffic without having to directly attract gamblers. There are so many people on Facebook and Twitter these days, and by offering them rewards to tweet your offers and encourage their friends to purchase your offers, you are in the process of creating brand evangelists…almost for FREE! We love free!

So, I decided I better sign up for this promotion since I’m raving so much about it. Then I can report back to you and let you know if it’s all it cracks up to be! The first step is to tweet the offer of the day. Today there are two opportunities to tweet. The first is:

PalmsLasVegas

Come join our Social Rewards Loyalty Program! Earn points towards free rooms, drinks, dinners, more while in #Vegas http://bit.ly/fukEv9

What are some other ways you can attract new business without attracting gamblers? Do you think this is a good way to increase business?

There is a “tweet” button that makes it easy to use. You get 10 points just for tweeting. Check!

The next opportunity is:

Be a playboy! Rates @ Palms Las Vegas starting @ $99, access to club, $25 match play & Comedy tickets! #vegas

Once again, an easy to use “tweet” button and 10 more points. Check!

You can also post on Facebook and encourage your friends to buy the deals you share. That would be 250 points! Double check! Then I can take all my points, just for being a brand evangelist for Palms, and get free stuff. And I never even have to spend a dollar at the Palms, but you can bet when I redeem for my free hotel room, I will be spending those dollars at the Palms.

So, what do you think about this promotion?

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.

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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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