You don’t have to listen to Nicki Minaj or use Snapchat to understand the consumer behavior of today’s Millennial (although admittedly, it may help get on their wavelength). Truthfully, if you want to get into their heads, you first need to understand and acknowledge the complexities of this group and their unique financial challenges.

A new study on today’s Millennials shows that they have more debt than ever, including credit card balances, student loans and car payments. Further, two-thirds of Millennials, aged 23 to 35, have at least one source of long-term debt, while one-third have more than one source. In addition, the under 40 crowd has student loan debt, at an average of $40,000, while the average salary for Millennials is less than $35,000 annually.

With all of that said, it isn’t surprising that gambling is not top of mind for them. A September 2016 study on Atlantic City revealed that Millennials spend two-thirds less of their trip budget on gambling than did generations before them.

However a decline in Millennial gambling doesn’t mean that they’re not spending. The fact is, despite changing economic climates and restricted budgets, Millennials remain interested in and driven by entertainment. They are still motivated by the allure of the clubs, restaurants and bars, keeping ancillary services in high-demand.

So, in an environment where Millennials have very little disposable income, but still possess a credit card and a strong willingness to spend, how do casino owners get to the top of the priority list? Stressing “the experience” at casino properties will draw Millennials to the entertainment and, eventually, the initiation of gaming will follow.

Casino properties have to integrate ancillary services into their player rewards programs and not just focus on gambling. Once points are earned they’ll begin to see a shift in Millennial attendance and spending. And with a generation that is very brand driven, the product in the rewards program needs to be highly aspirational, current and have a high perceived value. Offering rewards that resonate with the Millennial lifestyle—such as fashion items, wireless technology and fitness technology—ensures a higher engagement and promises more spending.

At Rymax, we insist that our programs offer products with high brand equity and the “latest and greatest” models.  Based on demographic and geographical concentration strategies, Rymax creates a targeted selection of today’s most in-demand products, from our portfolio of more than 350 sought-after brands including UGG, Michael Kors, SONOS and Thule.

Effective player rewards programs omit logoed, low-priced, disposable items and instead offer a healthy mix of today’s most aspirational brands.

In addition, players and consumers of all types, appreciate exclusivity and VIP access, so Rymax recommends holding mini events that give them trophy value gifts and access to management. These events are also beneficial for organizations, because they provide an opportunity to gain valuable feedback from the target market and serves as the perfect icebreaker for initiating trial.

DOUBLING DOWN

In addition to player rewards programs, another initiative that casinos should execute is a very robust employee recognition program. This will help encourage employees to promote ancillary services, which will drive Millennial spending and ultimately boost gambling activity.

While most casinos currently run employee of the month programs and utilize other recognition tools, they rarely incorporate rewards outside of their property. Name brand products give the employee a trophy value that is long lasting. It allows them to receive something that they might have wanted to buy and has a strong impact on the bottom line as the cost is far less than the perceived value.

Rymax works with many properties on points based recognition programs for the front desk, for the servers in restaurants and bars, for player hosts and for other employee levels. We are inspiring them to talk up ancillary services and upselling. We are motivating them to engage with the players to create additional revenue streams.

Collectively, these strategies initiate trial, drive repeat business and help groom the elusive younger generation to become players.