When casino customers enter gambling establishments today, their plans for entertainment and placing winning bets are increasingly accompanied by these two items: the venue’s loyalty card and a smartphone.  

With the rapid convergence of physical and mobile environments and interactions that bridge the two, could the loyalty card and smartphone function as one within both environments?

It’s a question casino operators are increasingly asking—and a concept that makes sound marketing sense, given that casino patrons’ activities are already shifting from the physical and online environments to a predominately mobile one. Casino patrons increasingly download mobile apps or engage in social mobile games, and casino loyalty program members are already well-trained to swipe their cards at slot machines to earn rewards.

Against this backdrop, marketers can transform casino patrons’ mobile behaviors and their ever-present smartphones into mobile-powered loyalty program cards, capable of supporting both the casino’s loyalty program and other in-location mobile marketing initiatives.

Discussions with casino marketers underscore the need for in-location marketing technology solutions that can help casinos build bridges between the physical casino environment and patrons’ smartphones. Casino loyalty programs are obvious targets for that bridge-building activity, given that Colloquy’s 2015 Loyalty Census shows a 4 percent increase in gaming loyalty program membership, as well as need for top-notch mobile apps that keep all members engaged, interested and active in loyalty programs.

In the casino environment, marketers can build those bridges by leveraging the activities loyalty program members commonly execute and linking them to ever-present smartphones. For example, casino loyalty program members already know that a simple swipe of the card at a slot machine is the key that allows them to earn rewards, move to higher levels and reach goals.

Those same “swipe” or “tap” motions can be expanded from slot machines into the broader casino environment, where—with the proper underlying mobile technology and strategic placement—they can serve as smartphone-enabled marketing opportunities that invite patrons and members to explore further, download an app, stay longer and engage with offers and promotions throughout the casino.

When loyalty programs are incorporated directly into smartphones and mobile apps, members can swipe, earn, track and redeem rewards and gamified incentives on the casino floor, restaurants, hotels, bars, entertainment venues, spas or at other casino amenities. The benefit for casinos is a blended mobile-marketing environment, rich with data that can help inform each cycle of communication with loyalty program members and casino patrons.

In this mobile-powers-loyalty scenario, for example, mobile messaging can be supported and informed by rich data based on patrons’ activities, on-property location, recency of app use, data incorporated from the casino’s CRM program, purchase histories and the loyalty program itself. 

Did a player just move from Platinum to Diamond? Marketers can send a message directly to the member’s smartphone to offer congratulations and same-day perks redeemable at the casino restaurant or bar. Does a player show preference for a specific slot machine? Marketers can tailor mobile messages that acknowledge personal interests and activities—an approach built on mobile marketing best practices showing that relevant, timely and personalised messages lead to more engagement and lower rates of churn or abandonment.

Combining a mobile-powered loyalty card with the customer-engagement technology allows casino marketers and operators to:

  • Influence guest behaviour, boost engagement and revenues, and increase time spent in-location by encouraging guests to use theirs smartphones to tap, explore and earn rewards throughout the entire property and all of its offerings and amenities
  • Gain insights from in-location data generated by the mobile interaction.

The shift toward a mobile-empowered marketplace is already in full gear, and loyalty program membership is growing. Casino marketers and loyalty programs can take advantage of the two trends by creating a casino environment in which patrons’ smartphones become their mobile loyalty program cards.