March has been a very busy month for me, starting with a trip to Phoenix, Ariz., to attend the annual NIGA conference and trade show and capped a couple of weeks later with a visit to Las Vegas to participate in Empower, the Scientific Games user conference. That is a lot of flying and, to borrow an old trope attributed to Bob  Hope, boy are my arms tired… so tired, in fact, that coverage from both these events has been pushed into the May and June issues of Casino Journal. (I kid of course; it was the vagaries of monthly magazine scheduling and production that forced these stories into later issues, but it’s rare when I get a chance to take advantage of a good one-liner.)

Attending the excellent keynotes and sessions provided at each of these conferences did provide me with a number of new observations about the gaming industry, perhaps none more forceful than the realization that marketing and its position within the casino enterprise operation hierarchy has truly reached its ascendency. Through all the speeches and conversations, you come to realize that no major economic initiative on either the operator or manufacturer side of the business is made with input and approval from the marketing team.

As someone with close to 25 years in the gaming industry, I can’t begin to tell you how different this all is; especially when I consider marketer complaints on how little influence their department had on long-term gaming enterprise strategy and planning in the go-go casino development days of the 1990s, the height of the “build it and they will come” era, when demand far outstripped supply and year-over-year growth was a given. That said, you would have had to live under a rock not to notice the steady rise of marketing department fortunes in the resort enterprise over the past decade, spurred by a large list of factors ranging from stagnant growth and the need to capture more business from existing customers and competing properties to evolving technologies that make the gathering and analysis of consumer data faster and more efficient than ever before.

This embrace of all things marketing has not been lost on us here at Casino Journal and BNP Media. Our audience’s demand for marketing content has been voracious and ever growing, a gap that we have attempted to fill on the print side by publishing advice columns and other articles from casino marketing thought leaders such as Dennis Conrad, Michael Perhaes, Julia Carcamo, Amy Hudson, Andrew Cardno and Aron Ezra, just to name a few. Our annual Casino Marketing & Technology Conference (CM&TC), which will take place July 12-14 at Paris Las Vegas, is another valuable resource for those seeking insight on resort marketing trends. The conference program for this event has just been released, and will include 14 marketing and technology breakout sessions, running concurrently, two keynote addresses and two general sessions. The breadth and reach of the program can be seen in a sampling of session titles: “How to Use Facebook and Build ROI,” “Let’s Get Serious About E-mail Marketing,” “Building a Data-Driven Marketing Culture,” “Slot Marketing Success Stories (*and Failures)” and “10 Tactics to Restore Value to Casino Players and Reclaim Revenues for Your Property.” For more information on the conference, visit www.casinomarketingconf.com.

Attending events such as CM&TC will help give your business the legs needed to get ahead in the marketing race; and I guarantee you a strong finishing kick is better than a set of tired arms.