There is a lot of lip service paid to making the slot floor, pit area and other aspects of the traditional brick-and-mortar casino more attractive to the Millennial generation. I don’t think I’m being too critical in saying that, so far, most of the attempts to “Millennial-ify” the casino experience have been largely cosmetic; involving the integration of some skill-based games into the slot mix, social spaces carved out of gaming areas, nightclubs with DJs and bottle service, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.  

Ever wonder what it would take to truly create a Millennial-forward space and entertainment experience? Well, a recent article inThe Boston Globe outlined the steps Celebrity Cruises took to create a Millennial-attracting atmosphere on Celebrity Edge, its newest cruise ship. This attempt to build a Millennial-centric property should be of interest to the gaming community since the cruise industry suffers from many of the same issues that afflict casinos when it comes to capturing Millennials—older facilities that are technologically behind the times, the need to remain attractive to an existing, older customer base, the perception among the young the entertainment offered is meant more for their grandparents than them and so on.

Celebrity hopes to change all this with “The Edge,” and here are some of the methods they are employing to do so:

  • Rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows, serene color schemes and balconies incorporated into main cabin space, creating rooms with incredible views that are 23 percent larger than traditional balcony rooms.
  • Common interior and outdoor common spaces that emphasize “vignette” experiences, such as a top deck garden filled with pathways, curved benches and enough plants to create private spaces to meet for drinks or watch outdoor movies.
  • An interior space called Eden, a lounge/dining/entertainment area that showcases lots of greenery and large-scale windows looking out on the ocean.
  • The Magic Carpet, a tennis court-size cantilevered platform that offers guest a viewing experience akin to flying over the sea.
  • An expansive gym that includes a two-level sloping outdoor running track. 
  • An emphasis on customer-facing convenience technology such as very fast Internet speed and an iPhone app that allows guests to control lights, window shades and other room features.

“We really believe that Millennials [will] love this ship,” Lisa Lutoff-Perlo, president and CEO of Celebrity Cruises told The Boston Globe. “I’m not saying every one of them, but I think we identified a target of five million Millennials that would very much be interested in cruising on Celebrity. We are very purposeful with the ship because our ambition was to bring in new recruits.”

It sounds like quite a ship and experience. To be clear, I’m not suggesting Celebrity’s Millennial magnet model is a feasible strategy for most gaming properties, but it does show the kind of out-of-the-box thinking and financial commitment that is needed to create something that will truly attract younger generations into gaming properties and onto the wagering floor. I also think the gaming industry will find that many of the attractions outlined above will appeal not just to Millennials but all generations. Honestly, have you ever heard any guest complain about the Internet being too fast or the exercise facilities too large?

Going forward, it will be interesting to see if a largescale gaming operator will borrow a chapter from Celebrity Cruises and either create or redesign an entire gaming resort solely to appeal to Millennials and younger clientele. I don’t think this approach would be too far out to sea.