The hyper-competitive southern California table games market has compelled Pechanga to aggressively embrace relationship marketing and take another look at technologies that support better quality reinvestment decisions.
That was the message from Mike May, vice president table operations, poker and player development, Pechanga Resort & Casino, who participated in a panel discussion called, “Regional vs. Destination: Different Approaches to Table Games Operations.”
“Our tribe had the foresight to realize that you can’t just put a box out there with table games and slot machines,” said May. “We have an extraordinary golf course that was built on the property. A large part of our business comes from the Asian community; Vietnamese, Chinese and Korean, which are in the Los Angeles area in some of the largest populations outside of those countries. Right down the hill from us we have a number of Native American casinos and we have the card rooms.
“If I can go around the corner and play EZ-Bac, I’m probably going to do that. But if you don’t come to Pechanga then you won’t see the multiple ethnic shows that we present in our 1,200-seat theater. We have to provide something that is comparable to Las Vegas. If you play at Pechanga and you’re one of our top players you get to go to a Lakers game because we have a box at the Staples Center which we can use for all different events, or use our box at the Angels game. It’s a Las Vegas model, a regional model, but the biggest driver for us is the relationship model. We have a partnership with a Vietnamese mall in Little Saigon. We continually invest in community events. The unique thing for Pechanga is there are things our players can only get if they play there.”
When it comes to player reinvestment, May pointed to two trends that are making it both easier and more difficult for table game operators to succeed: More and better technologies and less and less staff. “You walk around that floor out there and there are a lot of companies selling table game analytics products,” said May. “They are going to take all of your data and provide you the best information possible to make decisions. But the other thing that’s happening is we have fewer people watching more games.”
May said that when he started in the industry he watched one craps game and two to four table games along with another person. Now you have one person watching as many as eight games. “You have more companies selling analytical solutions and less staff providing the data,” he said. “Where is the future? It’s RFID; getting the same quality data that the slot department gets. Because, ultimately, we’re guessing about comps and what we do from a reinvestment standpoint. When you’re talking to vendors, ask them how we can get things cheaper on RFID; how can you get the readers on the table cheaper; that’s the solution. Who’s willing to go out and spend $2.75 a chip, or $5,000 a table? But if more of us are willing to buy it, then the price will go down.”