It may not be the best of times, but for some it’s the right time to test the technologies of the near future

It may not be the best of times. But for some casinos and manufacturers, it’s the right time.

It’s the right time to start laying the groundwork for where you want to be when the economy starts turning around.

And it will turn around. OK, it may not be anytime particularly soon, but in 2010, where do you want to be? Still scratching your head about what all the fuss is about MySpace and Facebook?

Or do you want to be ahead of the curve and already reaching out to a group that is telling you loud and clear that these are sites they visit often and where they connect with likeminded individuals – individuals who either are already or could become your customers?

Barona Valley Ranch Resort & Casino already is blazing forward – having recently launched a pilot program using a mobile phone marketing program that offers special barcoded promotions, as well as a video short contest that is being leveraged via major social networking sites such as Facebook. (Read more in the cover story starting on Page 12.)

Others who are leading the pack include Harrah’s Entertainment and Boyd Gaming, which are both moving that way too. And they’re not the only ones. It just makes good marketing sense. Casinos not only have the opportunity to cement loyalty with existing players but also to reach out to new legions of potential customers.

 Casino Journal columnist Andreas Roell noted in a recent column that consumers are used to personalized online interactions, and casinos need to elevate their CRM marketing plans online.

“With the rise of social networks and online communities, I think marketers are now in a place where they can enhance their CRM programs to relate to their consumers on a more personal level.Using forums such as Facebook and MySpace, marketers in the hotel and casino industry can reach previous guests and visitors and engage with them in a more meaningful way.”

He notes one way for advertisers to do this is by using profile tags to identify past guests.

 “For example, if a Facebook user notes “going to Vegas” as one of their hobbies or tags a particular hotel in their latest photo album, marketers can serve them a targeted, relevant advertisement right on their profile page.”

There are some great opportunities for forward-thinking casinos and game makers to leverage their brands on these sites. Think about it.

Stock watch

Bally Technologies and WMS both recently reported second-quarter earnings. And there was much for both to be happy about, with both Bally and WMS reporting record benchmarks for the quarter. Not a bad story to tell in the midst of this global recession.