In recent years, there has been a lot of discussion in the gaming world about how to attract the next generation of gamers to the brick-and-mortar casinos that now dot our country and are still being planned and built.

It is most interesting that player development (PD) has rarely been discussed as an effective means for bringing these lucrative patrons to the casino. While most plans focus on online and skill-based games, and these things certainly show some promise, actual success with Millennials will be more easily accomplished if the personal touch is a part of the plan…and this is where PD shines.

When anyone anywhere can pick up a cell phone and play slot games or blackjack, it’s a double-edged sword. Obviously it’s a relatively risk-free way for potential gamblers to try out the games in a comfortable environment, so the proliferation of casino-style games online allows nearly anyone to be introduced to the games and determine their own propensity to game. On the other hand, this ready availability allows casual players to satisfy their urge to play slots with only a few scrolls and taps instead of making a trip to the casino. The key to attracting the young people at the intersection of casual and casino gamers is to give them more than one compelling reason to get into the car and drive to your property. 

It seems that casino marketers begin with the tried and true when attempting to appeal to a new demographic, as with so many things. Deploying sign-up promotions, advertising big mass promotions with prizes geared toward younger guests, installing the latest themed games and booking up-and-coming entertainers are all good ideas when it comes to providing an incentive to a demographic that is under-represented on your gaming floor. However, these may not be enough to bring an uninitiated gambler through your doors. Doing something different may be the key.

How different? Honestly, not that different. Instead of taking a shotgun approach to attractingMillennials, why not take a more targeted approach and invite them specifically to come and see what your property has got to offer? In your advertising, highlight the amenities you know will appeal to these young potential patrons. Do you have a terrific coffee stop, a rocking pizza joint, an upscale bar and/or steakhouse, a 24-hour restaurant or a varied entertainment schedule? Let them know about these things! Encourage them to sign up for a rewards club card and use it in those retail outlets so you can track their activity and market to them the way you would your slot and table players. Include discounted or free coupons to the attractions they use, and follow up with personal service from a host for the big spenders. 

It doesn’t have to be a complicated matrix, nor does it have to be very different from the mailer you send your gamblers. Look at it this way: you probably already have several different programs in place to address patrons at the various stages of their life cycle with you. Most casinos have a core mailer, plus one for new and/or inactive players, as well as campaigns to support events and promotions. Your most frequent and loyal patrons also qualify for rewards programs. Those with the potential to reach the revered “Top 20 Percent” benefit from host service. This suggestion starts with adding another similar approach to the potentially lucrative non-gamers (or potential gamers) who might enjoy what your property has to offer. If you’re not certain you can have someone in-house who can tackle the data tracking or slicing and dicing, there are many technology partners in the marketplace today who can provide valuable assistance in streamlining and tracking results from the many matrices you might want to deploy. 

Once you’ve begun to see the very same patterns among these patrons as you do your gamers, discovering your best customers among the retail outlets you’ve invited them to try, incentivize them to return by having one of your business development reps personalize their relationship with your property. This assures you’re in a position to win the patron’s loyalty by meeting or exceeding their expectations, and opens you up to networking opportunities among this person’s like-minded. 

Developing relationships with patrons in this generation also yields another very elusive reward: social media evangelism. If you don’t already manage your presence on Yelp!, Trip Advisor, Facebook, Twitter and other social and review sites, start now. It might be worth finding a partner for this if you feel your property lacks the bandwidth to tackle it in-house. Understanding what people say online about their experiences at your property is key to continued growth in our digital world, and winning the hearts and minds of Millennials will definitely have an impact on how your casino is seen on the web. Make sure their experiences are positive by adding the personal touch through your PD team. Match your Millennial customers up with tech-savvy hosts to ensure ongoing engagement in a way that is preferable for everyone.

Using all the elements of a modern PD program (such as CRM, handwritten notes, calls and texts, life cycle tracking and direct mail support, booking visits, revenue goals, reinvestment tracking and all the rest) will give you a comprehensive approach to attracting this make-or-break demographic segment before it’s too late. 

Why wouldn’t you do this using all the tools in your arsenal, just like you would for every other casino marketing challenge you face? Activate your player development team to provide your best potential Millennials a reason to come see you again and again.