Last month we produced the 16th edition of our annual Casino Marketing & Technology Conference and dare I say it was right up there with the best of them, and not just because of the double-digit growth we realized in full conference attendees and exhibitors.
Sessions covered a wide range of traditional and digital marketing topics. Here are a few examples of the ground that was covered:
Mario Maesano, senior vice president, marketing, Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City, on how too many casinos never got around to building their brands: I was thinking back to the roots of the problems that we’ve been experiencing in competitive markets. I could go into the details of specific database programs and promotions, but after over 25 years and about a dozen properties, it has become clear to me from a marketing perspective why casinos are having such a difficult time in competitive markets. It stems from our history in my opinion. I believe that we as an industry have been slow to mature from a global marketing strategy standpoint. From a 10,000-foot view, it all comes down to me as a branding and brand differentiation problem and how well we don’t do that in our industry.
How did we get to this point? If you think back about 30 years ago or so, gaming was limited to Las Vegas and Atlantic City and everybody flocked to those two destinations. It’s not that marketing was easy; marketing was different. There really was no need to create a unique differentiation or a unique emotional connection with your consumers because basically you built in and they came. And then, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, the boom happened; casinos were proliferating all over the country, the executives from Las Vegas and Atlantic City started travelling around and basically taught all the executives in those markets how they marketed. And business was good. They became, to use a term, rinse and repeat marketers. Thirty years later, growth has slowed considerably, markets are maturing and saturated, and we find ourselves using the same old programs that have been used for 30 years.
Robby Bell, digital marketing and innovation manager, Rivers Casino Pittsburgh, on the impact of adding a mobile app to your sports betting operation: One thing we’ve always been good at is having things on the roadmap that give the guest a new experience within the app and a reason to download it. When sports betting came we made the news many times. It was like a revolving door with the media, and the lines were just insane. With Joingo and Kambi we built Bet Ticket, adding sports betting functionality to our casino app. Players could go within the app and build their bet directly in there by sending a QR code directly to the sportsbook, where a ticket taker just scans it and your bet is automatically generated. Transaction time is 5-10 seconds vs 3-4 minutes at a kiosk or longer at the window. We marketed going to the app instead of the website. When you’re pushing through a ton of people on a Super Bowl or March Madness weekend, it’s definitely something you want to integrate in the app.
Kyle Schaffer, director of IT, Chumash Casino Resort, on the growth in the number of applications running on the same WiFi and the number of devices being used: Four years ago, we did a wireless project and our goal was to get blanket coverage throughout our whole property. There was not a lot of business-critical or marketing usage planned for this… it was simply because our property was in a dead zone for cellular and our guests would come on our property and immediately be cut off from the outside world. So we took the time to do heat maps, analytics and just when we got it deployed out and things were working well, the business exploded on this tool to provide elevated guest experiences.
So we went from having no business back-of-the-house wireless usage to having Vocera voice communicator badges for our guest-facing team members to communicate in real time, either one-on-one or in groups. We have a slot finder application that is used to help guests to the machine they want. The most critical and the most hampered function we have is mobile dispatching for attendants and jackpots, where messages can be lost in dead zones. We’ve got the waves going everywhere, but we didn’t necessarily know how many people and devices were going to be in a given area. We went from 500 people using devices consuming wireless five years ago to over 4,800 now. And we’re a property with just over 2,500 slot machines.