WHAT MAKES A SLOT PROMOTION A TOP SLOT PROMOTION?
A TOP slot promotion is …
• Strategically designed to drive visitation and revenue
• Selectively diverse to attract a variety of players
• Creatively implemented to offer a fun and memorable guest experience
• Logistically planned to be user-friendly for guests and employees
• Measurably profitable to positively influence the bottom line
So, what promotions are casinos effectively offering their customers to accomplish these goals? Here are some of the best I’ve seen in the field over the past year and how properties are maximizing their value to drive revenue and create an exciting slot experience.
THE THRESHOLD PROMOTION - TRINKETS OF TREASURE
Cypress Bayou Casino/Shorty’s, Charenton, La.
The goal of the Trinkets of Treasure promotion was to increase midweek traffic and revenue. Guests were asked to earn a designated number of points during the promotion day to receive a jeweled box (players kept their earned points). The success of the promotion relied on the appropriate mix of advance research (analyzing weekday play levels, learning what implementation worked best in similar markets), proper planning (selecting appealing trinket designs, product exclusivity in the market, adding a free play benefit for a return trip), and multi-track communication (direct mail with photos, in-house displays in key areas, full-color flyers to distribute to guests at the property).
According to Marketing Director Shannon Redmond, the most effective tools for driving participation were the theme, quality and high perceived value of the “Zanzibar” trinket boxes (For this Southern market, think crawfish, alligator, fleur de lis, the symbol used by the New Orleans Saints) and Cypress Bayou employee interaction. Security officers at each casino entrance showed samples of the trinkets to customers and told them what they needed to do to take one home. Cocktail servers, restaurant staff and promotions reps carried trinkets to entice customers to play and earn their gift. “Employees created the buzz and excitement for the promotion more so than any direct mail piece could do. It was hands-on enthusiasm that sold the Trinkets of Treasure,” Redmond stated.
How did Cypress Bayou measure success? An 8 percent increase in attendance compared to non-promotional midweek days. A 69 percent increase in the number of players reaching the point level required to earn the gift. The spend-per-head of promotion participants was 20 percent to 51 percent higher than the average spend-per-head of the casino’s customers. The redemption rate of the bounce-back free play offer ranged from 24 percent to 100 percent. Most of all, customers were motivated to start their Trinkets of Treasure collection and didn’t want to miss out on future offers.
The Rampart Casino in Las Vegas has been using jeweled boxes as a threshold promotion for several years and has further targeted the program to drive play from several segments of their database. By offering the trinket for a base level of points, the trinket plus free play for a higher point accumulation, and a specially selected gift for a third threshold, players of increased worth can “play up” to earn the gift of their choice.
THE VISIT-DRIVER CONTEST PROMOTION - KICKOFF PICKOFF
Casino Del Sol, Tucson, Ariz.
Executive Director of Marketing Steven Neely has been a longtime advocate of the free contests offered by SportGame, which he has successfully used to drive visits and revenue at several gaming properties throughout his career. The concept is simple: customers can visit daily, enter their weekly winner picks via a supplied computer and swipe system, data is emailed from the casino, and SportGame returns the winner lists.
Neely touts the system for its versatility and user-friendliness. Well-known for its professional football contests, SportGame also provides a turnkey contest solution for NASCAR, Kentucky Derby, Academy Awards (Casino Del Sol teamed up with a local ABC network affiliate to conduct its own Oscar Night), Grammy Awards, Country Music Awards, and college football, as well as conducting surveys on the casino floor. The process is easy for staff and players to understand and use.
“As a marketer, you are always looking for ways to measure your efforts. By using the customer’s players club card number as their unique identifier, it is easy to monitor changes in player behavior,” Neely noted. “Promotions like football contests work great to drive additional revenue since it rewards players for making multiple trips. I have seen six figure bumps in incremental revenue from players during the 17-week football season at a midsize property. When considering the cost of the system, this is a tremendous ROI. Additionally, it saves me labor since the system takes care of the scoring for me and allows me to focus on guest service and promotion execution. They have also worked out some nice insurance deals with providers that allow me to offer a million dollar prize for a very low cost.”
This will be the casino’s third year conducting Kickoff Pickoff and, assuming NFL is alive and well this upcoming season, is expected to continue to drive visits and slot revenue.
THE “TURNKEY” INSURED PROMO - PUNCHOUT!
Little Creek Casino Resort, Shelton, Wash., and Pechanga Resort & Casino, Temecula, Calif.
If a casino is looking for an easy-to-execute, highly effective, revenue-driving promotion that creates excitement on the gaming floor, SCA Gaming’s PunchOut! is a good bet. One of SCA’s large variety of interactive games that winners can play and spectators can enjoy (vs. just giving away cash in a drawing), PunchOut! has been used successfully in casinos all across the United States. Here are a couple of photos of winners at Pechanga Resort & Casino. (Note: gentleman wearing boxing gloves won $10,000!)
PunchOut! is an insured promotion that enables a property to offer the chance of a large payout ($100k, $250k, $1,000,000) to winners playing the interactive game, while providing a daily swipe-and-win opportunity to its guests. The program includes kiosks for instant win and drawing entries, a program for distributing daily prizes based on player worth, the super-sized game board, and boxing gloves.
Martin Myers, director of marketing at Little Creek Casino Resort, notes it’s the personal flavor the property adds to the experience that really gets the guests to respond and take part in the promotion. “From giving silk logoed ‘Everlast Boxing Robes’ to every contestant that gets to play PunchOut!, to the personalized ring introduction accompanied by some ‘Eye of the Tiger’ cranked to the appropriate level of 11, the controlled chaos puts the guests front and center with all eyes on them as they play the game and revel in the moment of Lady Luck smiling down on their shot to be a big winner. It is an absolute blast watching someone’s grandmother step up to the game wearing her robe and boxing gloves … a sight to behold!”
Visitation and revenue results included more than 10,000 uniquely carded players participating in the eight-week promotion. Plus, the Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday drawing nights became top nights for carded play and the promotion increased overall midweek headcount and incremental revenue.
THE TOTALLY THEMED PROMO - MARDI GRAS MADNESS
Suquamish Clearwater Casino Resort, Suquamish, Wash.
The Fat Tuesday Mardi Gras Celebration at Clearwater would have been a typically effective monthly promotion of earned entry and hot seat prize drawings. What made it so successful was the addition of a community and employee track that completely drove it over the top, resulting in a new crop of visitors (read as trial and acquisition), support from an alternative demographic, excitement on the gaming floor, and total property immersion.
What made it so special? The indoor grand finale, Fat Tuesday Parade of Service. What made it work? According to April Leigh, public relations/media manager, “One of the most important things about this event was the time that went into planning it. We would never have been able to give the non-profit organizations enough time to build the floats if we didn’t create the program six months in advance.”
How did they do it? Clearwater invited local, nonprofit service organizations to create Mardi Gras floats, and promised each at least $500 for their efforts. The casino provided kid-sized Radio Flyer wagons to serve as the base of the floats. The floats were delivered to the casino three days in advance, served as decorations for the day’s events, and were judged by local celebrities, select employees and Club Clearwater members, who were excited to be part of the event and loved the float displays. Employees participated in a “shoebox” float competition a week before the event. Dozens of employees participated and touted the competition to guests in the casino.
“Enlisting the participation of service organizations generated public interest like we have never seen before,” Leigh said. “Newspapers were calling us. Organization members, many who had never been to our casino, were suddenly our biggest advocates. They touted the event on social media pages and in newsletters across the region.”
The Fat Tuesday Parade of Service had the highest attendance levels of any event in the casino, beating those for every other event or promotion within a year … including New Year’s Eve. In fact, Clearwater experienced a 475 percent return on investment (revenue over cost), and the projected 4.06 percent profit margin turned into an actual 14.6 percent profit margin.
WINNERS RECOGNITION PROMO - MASTER BLASTER CELEBRATION
Carson Nugget, Carson City, Nev.
The photos of this winner-celebrating concept at Carson Nugget speak for themselves. Master Blaster is a confetti cannon that explodes above the players in celebration of a jackpot. The casino has started using this recognition promotion to increase the excitement of jackpot winners and to further the impression that Carson Nugget is the “winning-est” casino in town. In its first month, Master Blaster was employed every Friday and Saturday from 5 to 9 p.m., blasting winners with confetti and prizes.
The first time I encountered this idea when I was the marketing director at Bronco Billy’s Casino in Cripple Creek, Colo., in the form of its Jackpot Cannons (I wish I could take credit for it, but the continuing celebration had already been in place). The goal was to recognize winners in a format that was exciting for them, exhilarating for other guests, and triggered in players’ minds that the casino was full of winners. Every time a hand-paid jackpot occurred, a CO2-charged gun filled with confetti and small bills was shot in the air over the winner’s head. What looked like a messy floor to the unsuspecting new visitor actually signaled a winning machine. Who wouldn’t want to play in a casino where “winners” were celebrated all the time?
If you’re looking for a sure-fire way to drive gaming revenue on your slot floor, try one of these stimulating promotions or something else of your own design. Just remember to be strategic, plan ahead, offer a variety of promotions, keep it creative, and measure for profitability. SM