Bringing Attention to Amenities
by Melissa Barreca; Kathy Callahan
Bringing Attention to Amenities
Your nongaming business is becoming more important, are you promoting it correctly?
Melissa Barreca is communications project manager for Ameristar’s corporate officein Las Vegas. She can be reached at (636) 825-9802, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Kathy Callahan is director of communications for Ameristar’s corporate office in Las Vegas. She can be reached at (702) 567-7053, or by e-mail at email@example.com.
The 2007 American Gaming Association Survey of Casino Entertainment shows how casino customers spent their money outside of the casino last year—in addition to the table games and slot machines:
— About 82 percent ate at a fine-dining restaurant
— 58 percent saw a show or concert
— 49 percent visited a bar or club
— 44 percent went shopping
— 28 percent visited the pool, spa or fitness facilities
— 11 percent used conference facilities
In the same survey, twice as many people responded that the overall casino experience—the food, shows and entertainment—is more fun for them than gambling.
While this data doesn’t come as a surprise to our industry—after all, casinos around the world have been expanding their non-gaming amenities for years to bring additional entertainment options to their guests—it does reinforce that the landscape of casino entertainment has officially changed. It also offers an opportunity for all of us to step back and assess how guests’ activities off of the gaming floor impact our property public relations strategy.
Eat, drink, promote
Let’s start with fine dining, since that is obviously one of the most popular spots outside the casino. The concept of “fine-dining” may encompass everything from a Michelin five-star restaurant run by a celebrity chef in Las Vegas to a nice upscale steakhouse at a Midwest location. Virtually every property has a venue that they would consider their version of a fine-dining outlet.
Since more than four out of five guests say they eat at this type of restaurant, are your PR efforts doing everything they can to promote this venue at your location? The culinary team, F&B director, and PR representative can be a great team in identifying opportunities to raise the profile of your best restaurant.
And there’s so much more to restaurant PR than just restaurant reviews. It’s time well spent to have a strategy session to look at opportunities to sell this asset to the media—whether through a chef cooking segment, submitting recipes to the local paper, or making your executive chef available as a subject matter expert to the local media.
The same is true for bars or clubs. Take time to work with your team to brainstorm what makes your bar or club unique. Flair bartenders, award-winning drink recipes, or an awesome audio visual system in a sports bar all have media appeal if pitched the right way, with the right kind of interesting facts to back up the story.
If you know your sports bar is the place to be during football/baseball/ basketball season, pitch your local print photographers to capture the excitement. Consider entering awards competitions for cocktails or flair bartenders, then publicize the results.
Touting everyday benefits
Your retail outlets offer yet another way to highlight the great variety of leisure options at your property.
Of course, there is the obvious angle of a new specialty shop, or one that carries locally-produced merchandise. But you can also look for other ways to create PR opportunities, such as holding a shopping evening with a percent of sales to benefit a local charity, a celebrity appearance that ties to your merchandise, or a book signing that relates to the store. PR efforts should extend beyond your player base to reach out to locals who may not consider shopping as a top-of-mind experience at your property.
If you haven’t noticed, spa and wellness facilities are one of the fastest-growing segments of the travel and leisure industry. If your property features a spa, it can open a whole new world of media opportunities in the specialty spa press.
Again, focus on the unique, the new, or the seasonal to develop ideas that your PR person can pitch to the media. If you don’t have anything at the moment, work with your property’s marketing team to develop innovative promotions or featured treatments that have may have a built-in hook for the media—‘Guys’ Night Out at the Spa,’ Valentine’s spa specials for couples, Mother’s Day promotions with an essay contest on why Mom deserves a day at the spa, or like the Hershey spa, a special chocolate facial.
Last but not least, how is your PR team helping to increase sales and bookings of your conference facilities? If the sales director and PR work hand-in-hand, there’s sure to be an increase in bookings. If you’re selling to the wedding business, brainstorm on promotions or activities that would pique media interest and boost wedding sales. Media promotions or a presence at local wedding shows could boost your bottom line.
All in all, a solid PR strategy and great implementation can be an important element in promoting the overall entertainment experience at your property. While there’s no denying that that core of the casino entertainment remains the games, there’s a wide array of other amenities that can be part of a good overall PR strategy. Executed correctly, there can be measurable results to show in increased cash sales, bookings, and improved awareness of your product to a wide range of guests.