For many years, casino operators and printer manufacturers have talked about the potential of using tickets to market to players right at the slot machine. Today, those printers have come of age, and first-mover casinos are tapping into that long-anticipated potential of using such technologically advanced printers - with promising results.
More casino operators than ever are expressing interest in promotional couponing, said Tracey Chernay, executive vice president, sales and marketing, for TransAct, which offers the Epicentral Print System for its Epic 950 printers with ServerPort. “They’re looking to add to the marketing mix that they current have - from direct mail to billboards to radio to on-property marketing,” she said. “This takes it to a whole new level - being able to deliver a personalized offer based on that player’s play. That’s pretty compelling to properties.”
Casino operators see the power of promotional couponing to incentivize players to enroll in a player rewards card, said Nick Miccalizzi, vice president of sales for FutureLogic, which offers the PromoNet couponing solution for its GEN2 Universal and GEN3 Evolution printers.
“They want to be able to market to 100 percent of their patrons,” he said. With couponing, they can reach out to noncarded players, “and that’s a big deal because they all want to encourage players to join the players club.”
Promotional couponing also can help when players have had a bad day at the slots. “It gives them a sense of winning, and it also promotes luck. If they’ve lost money, they don’t feel quite as bad,” Miccalizzi said.
At the South Point Hotel, Casino and Spa in Las Vegas, couponing on two banks of video slot machines has performed so well that the casino is planning to add couponing to many more machines, according to Cliff Paige, director of slot operations.
South Point uses the FutureLogic’s PromoNet couponing system, and promotions based on game metrics so far have seen high redemption rates and positive feedback from players, Paige added. “We’ve seen that those games have had a lift,” he said. “We have seen very high redemption rates.”
One promotion, in which South Point gave away coffee mugs, saw an off-the-charts 78 percent redemption rate. With giveaway promotions, “if we see a 50 percent redemption rate, we’re happy; if we see a redemption rate get up into the 70s, we’re giddy,” Paige said.
Customers enjoy the perk, he added. “They seem to be pleasantly surprised that there’s something additional, which is nice.”
Paige said he likes the fact that PromoNet reaches players who are not carded but who are encouraged or asked to sign up for the club in order to redeem their prize. “It’s a driver to carded play, and that’s part of the whole deal,” he said.
Promotional couponing is getting a lot more attention from casino operators because of such results, Miccalizzi said. “If you think about it, direct mailing, and the success of a direct mailing campaign, only a very small percentage responds,” he said. Also, he added, a portion of a casino’s marketing database is often out of date. “That reduces the success of a direct mailing. If you’re promoting at the game based on triggers, it becomes very successful,” and you can reach both carded and uncarded players, he said.
FutureLogic’s PromoNet Solution v2.0 represents a new release of its PromoNet couponing solution. PromoNet Solution v2.0 introduces PromoNet Player Rewards, an add-on module that allows large or small operators to connect promotional couponing to their player tracking system, enabling them to differentiate between and market to both carded and non-carded players in real-time. The PromoNet Solution v2.0 is equipped with full functionality and support for running promotional campaigns with or without a network. In its standalone configuration, the PromoNet Solution makes it possible for individual games or banks of slots to be easily updated with a USB flash drive. Additionally, a new mobile feature allows operators to issue and redeem coupons from the convenience of a tablet or smart phone.
NUMBERS SPEAK LOUDLYChernay said TransAct’s Epicentral has two proven large-scale installations from which to judge Epicentral’s performance, a test site at MGM Grand at Foxwoods, where it ran for six months on 1,100 machines, and the Nisqually Red Wind casino.
“We’re pretty proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish and being able to deliver on the promises that we’ve made,” Chernay said.
TransAct has seen strong results from its recent installation at the Nisqually Red Wind Casino in Olympia, Wash., where Epicentral is installed on 975 gaming machines. “They’re very excited about the results and potential of Epicentral,” Chernay said.
Red Wind Casino has reported significant increases in new player enrollment, visits per player and overall player spend, according to TransAct.
Since launching its Epicentral -powered Windfall promotional campaign in February, Red Wind has seen a roughly 30 percent increase in new player enrollment in their player loyalty club, as well as an increase in number of visits per player, with top-tier player visits in particular increasing by more than 10 percent.
“We are extremely pleased at the impact Epicentral and our Windfall campaign have had on our results… We believe we have only scratched the surface of what can be done with this system,” Quinton Boshoff, general manager of Nisqually Red Wind Casino, said in a news release.
In addition, Red Wind has reported an increase in overall player spend with a nearly 25 percent increase in the number of club-registered players who are qualifying for their highest rated tiers and a more than10 percent increase in the number of guests earning club rewards through increased play. In addition, Red Wind has seen its average daily theoretical win for top-tier players grow by nearly 5 percent since going live with Epicentral.
The Epicentral system - connected directly to TransAct’s ServerPort device inside the slot machine - is a software system marketing promotional coupons to be distributed to customers on a real-time basis at the slot machine. The system works with all existing slot systems and games because it is separate and distinct from the slot system itself.
Casinos see the value of a system that is “able to communicate directly to the players personally and target them right at the slot while they’re playing,” Chernay said.
GROWTH FORCEAnother ticket printer doesn’t yet offer promotional couponing to incentivize players based on play, but it is growing gaming market share by leaps and bounds this year.
The Paycheck 4 Thermal Printer, developed by Canadian printer manufacturer Nanoptix, is marketed and sold in the gaming industry by JCM Global, which recently upped its stake in Nanoptix to 49 percent.
Since JCM’s initial investment last year, the PayCheck 4 has been rebranded, marketed and sold as a JCM product. The pairing of JCM’s iVIZION bill validator and the PayCheck 4 printer has been highly successful, resulting in numerous contracts. The PayCheck 4 also has been integrated into Leap Forward Gaming’s SaffariNet ecosystem, a project in which JCM is a technology partner.
“The PayCheck 4 is actually doing very well for us out there right now,” said Kip Haverman, director of North American sales for JCM Global. “It’s a very solid printer, very fast. From a print aspect, it’s one of the fastest printers out there today.”
Haverman said the Paycheck 4 printer has captured about 40 percent of the new casino openings this year, including Maryland Live, the Oxford Casino in Maine and the Mardi Gras Casino & Resort in West Virginia.