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Posts Tagged ‘las vegas

Resorts World Sentosa in Singapore

Resorts World Sentosa in Singapore

It was just announced that Genting, the parent company for Resorts World properties in Singapore, the Phillipines and New York City (Queens) to name a few, is planning a Resorts World property in Las Vegas at the site of the Echelon property which was never completed. This could mean big things for an already massive worldwide powerhouse, but there are mixed feelings from the Las Vegas community.

There is some fear that a $2 to $7 billion dollar property will add to a market which some say is already over-saturated with hotel rooms. In a recently published article,  by 2016 when the property is slated to open Las Vegas would “need to add at least 800,000 more visitors per year to maintain current hotel occupancy levels.”

resorts world manila

Resorts World Manila

Additionally, the former Sands is undergoing renovations and will open as the new SLS Resort, owned by the Los Angeles based SBE Entertainment company. This will add more hotel rooms and another entertainment option for visitors to Las Vegas.

The combination of these two upcoming openings could pose a problem for existing Strip properties like Caesars Palace, the Venetian/Palazzo, the Wynn/Encore and the Bellagio who count on the high end Asian Baccarat business that they attract from China and the Far East. This is especially true if the Resorts World property does open. Genting is an Asian powerhouse gaming and entertainment company with many high end Asian customers. Last year alone Resorts World Sentosa brought in almost $3 billion in in gaming revenues. That’s just slightly more than all of MGM Resorts Casinos combined made in 2012.

Resorts World New York City

Resorts World New York City

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The Sahara of the 60s

The Sahara of the 60s

It’s been all over the news today, SBE Entertainment has secured the last few million ($415 to be exact) it will take to proceed with the full remodel of the Sahara on the Las Vegas Strip. The Sahara is a Las Vegas legend, which just as its predecessors has fallen from grace. It sits on the Northern part of the strip, a portion of the strip that has seen better days. The portion of the Strip that lies between the Wynn/Encore and the Stratosphere is largely a wasteland, with the exception of the Circus Circus and the Riviera. If you drive between the two properties, there is a collection of run down properties, closed facilities or deserted construction projects. It is not a friendly area that you’d want to walk down in the dark, or even in the middle of the day if you’re a young female.

A more recent photo of the Sahara while still in operation

So hearing the news that this part of the Strip hasn’t been forgotten is a welcome tidbit…if it really happens. The Sahara was in operation for 59 years, from 1952 until 2011. Of the pre-1960 Strip properties, only the Tropicana, Flamingo and Riviera remain open. SBE has owned the property since 2007.

A model of the new SLS Las Vegas

A model of the new SLS Las Vegas

The plan includes a 1,620 room boutique hotel-casino which is scheduled to open in late 2014. The question remains whether this plan, which has been talked about and rumored for years now, will happen. There has been much speculation on whether SBE would follow through on the plan, especially after they owned it, and then closed it and it has sat empty for the last nearly two years. However, with thisnews today that SBE has obtained the last of the funding they needed, it seems that this just may happen.  As a longtime resident of Nevada, I take pride in this industry and always continue to hope for the best. This part of the Strip is in great need of a facelift and this Los Angeles based company may be just the one

to complete that task.

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?

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?

In 2004, the Hard Rock Casino in Las Vegas came under fire from the Gaming Control Board because of their racy marketing campaigns, alleged drug use/sales in the nightclubs, and allegations that the casino/nightclub executives facilitated sexual encounters in hotel rooms for guests. In a town best known for the slogan, “what happens here, stays here,” it is a bit of a contradiction that a property would get in so much trouble for selling the “image” that Vegas has been trying to sell for so long.

Convention and Visitors Authority Logo for What Happens Here, Stays Here

So, let’s examine what got the Hard Rock in trouble. The following advertisement was released about 7 years ago by the Hard Rock Hotel.

Hard Rock Advertisement

There are several things to note about this ad. First, the tagline, “there’s always a temptation to cheat.” This could imply that the man is cheating on his wife/girlfriend or vice versa, or that the couple is cheating at the blackjack table. The ad also features several vices: drinking, smoking, sex, and gambling. Part of the issue the GCB had with this ad was that it was borderline pornography. You also are not allowed to advertise illegal activity, ie, cheating at gambling – whether that is actually what is being portrayed here or not. So, “what happens here stays here” clearly does not apply in this case. Let’s look at another Hard Rock ad:

Hard Rock Billboard

The tagline in this ad is, “get ready to buck all night.”  This ad was intended to target the National Rodeo Finals visitors, instead it attracted negative attention from regulators. This is clearly a racy ad, however once again, in a town that has built their reputation on “what happens here stays here” it seems contradictory to come down so hard against the Hard Rock in this instance. I think in the end it was the collection of advertisements that got them in trouble, along with the allegations of inappropriate sexual activity and drug use. The Gaming Commission agreed, and rejected the suit by the GCB. The issue was more regarding free speech than it was about obscenity. I tend to agree with the Commission. Unless there is outright nudity being shown, it is difficult to argue against this kind of image portrayal. Illegal activities such as illicit sexual activity and drug use should be dealt with as a separate matter than R-rated advertisements.

Hard Rock’s response to the suits:

Bravo Hard Rock, Bravo.

It’s snowing outside in lovely Reno, Nevada, so what better way to spend the evening than blogging about lessons we can learn from Las Vegas. The 90s were categorized in Las Vegas by a building boom. It all started in 1989 with the grand opening of the Mirage. This was followed over the next ten years with the openings of Treasure Island, Luxor, MGM Grand, Stratosphere, Monte Carlo, Bellagio, Venetian, Paris and Mandalay Bay. Steve Wynn was the pioneer of the mega resort in Las Vegas and the period from 1989 until basically the end of 2006 showed tremendous growth in Las Vegas. Housing boomed. Casinos boomed. And with that, construction boomed.

The Great Recession that started in 2007 crashed the entire market in Las Vegas. The crash was widely unexpected and many mega-resorts in Las Vegas were in the works of being created. This is more of what you will see in Las Vegas these days:

Note the cranes. The center photo is of unfinished construction in Las Vegas. You can read on the steel “Sin City Iron Workers Local 433.” There are structures in various states of finish all up and down the strip which include CityCentre, which has only caused MGM heartache since it’s inception, as well as Fontainebleau, and Echelon – neither of which have ever seen their grand openings. The really unfortunate part is that most of these structures that have exposed steel, like the center photo above, will never see the light of day. The steel is weathering due to elements and will likely have to be scrapped at some point.

So, the real question is, could we see this coming for Las Vegas? Perhaps the financial crisis could have been seen; after all the housing bubble was never going to be sustained, but Las Vegas should have seen that it could not just grow and grow and never see a decline in gaming revenues. The gaming industry in Nevada has defied most principles of the business life cycle, and has seen a period of industry growth that has rivaled even the most successful industries. But all industries must see a period of maturity and decline, and we are beginning to see that maturity and decline taking its toll in the face of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

Suggestions for the survivors?


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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