Casino resort players and guests are changing—the days of only focusing marketing efforts on local gamblers that live close by are fading away as the casino landscape becomes more complex and competitive. Today people are coming to casino resorts to see a show or have a “friends” weekend that includes spa treatments, a round of golf or just sitting around and enjoying a beverage. Indeed, the past five years have been transformational for both casino resort entertainment offerings and the patrons that attend them.

Unfortunately, what has not transformed is the digital marketing strategy of casino operators. A majority of operators still have the same digital strategy they had five years ago, essentially  providing players/guests with an informational mobile “loyalty” app that checks point balances, and comps, finds a machine on the floor, sends an e-mail or—the big advance three years ago—a text message to communicate with resort staff.

This approach may have been fine when the majority of a player’s time was spent at slot machines, but guests are now spending nearly 50 percent of their time at the resort outside the gaming floor. As casinos transform, operators must rethink their digital strategy to keep pace with ever expanding resort entertainment options. 

 Recently, I caught up with Nick Curcuru, senior vice president of analytics and customer engagement for Venuetize, to talk about the process of developing a mobile technology strategy. Venuetize recently developed the Live! Casino Hotel mobile app, which offers mobile drink ordering, player pin resets and a mobile wallet, and is considered a breakthrough in casino resort mobile apps. 

“The digital strategy needs to include a more robust mobile experience because the younger and more tech savvy guest that these new amenities draw are turning to their mobile devices as their preferred point of interaction with the casino resort services,” Curcuru said. “This mobile device trend also includes the traditional patron. The largest adopters of mobile technology are the over-60 crowd, so do not dismiss them from the mobile discussion. 

“In developing a mobile experience, an internal discovery process is a must-have event,” Curcuru added. “When looking at how best to get a return on investment from a mobile platform, casino marketing and operational leaders need to ensure three areas are covered—strategy, user experience and technical considerations.” 

What follows are some definitions and details on how to perform a digital marketing discovery process at your property:

Strategy—Understanding digital marketing revenue and operational efficiency objectives in relationship to overall business goals. Questions to ask and answer during this part of the process include:

  • What are the organization’s goals for the mobile platform and experience? 
  • What should adding a mobile experience for players and guests accomplish? 
  • How will mobile technology help the bottom line? 
  • How does this fit into the broader operations, marketing and communication strategy? 
  • How will we measure and evaluate success and KPIs? 
  • User experience—This step involves the identification of internal and external mobile platform users and their primary platform needs, then creating successful criteria and metrics for the platform that will benefit all users. Question to consider include:
  • Who are we trying to communicate to—patron, spa guest, foodie, event goer etc.? 
  • Why do guests come visit the property: gaming, events, hotel or other resort amenities? 
  • Who are the users of the mobile platform (internal/external)? 
  • What are their different needs?  

Technical considerations—Developing an understanding of the current and future technology integration needs of the digital marketing platform. Technologies that should be discussed include casino management systems, kiosks, property management systems, venue management systems, point of sales systems and ticketing. Even esoteric technologies such as automatic door locks and table reservation systems should be discussed.

Answers to the following questions are vital:

  • What devices will the new digital platform supporting?• What are the KPIs? 

Some other items to keep in mind during the discovery process:

  • Make sure the scope of the work aligns with the latest mobile capabilities and casino/resort system integrations.
  • Set a realistic expectation for the property executive team on what is possible, timelines and roadmap. 
  • Uncover how mobile can solve inefficiencies for staffing and casino resort operational systems. 

The discovery process does not need to be time consuming—the key is bringing in the internal stakeholders with the mobile app design team together to go through each area.  Each area discussion is meant to educate, map capabilities to operational and business goals and allow each area to understand how their needs affect each other. At the end, there should be alignment on what the mobile app needs to provide to drive results for the entire casino resort operation. 

 The core team will be able to define the following for the mobile application:

  • Objectives and scope;
  • Prioritized features and capabilities;
  • Stakeholder identification; and
  • Preliminary timeline/roadmap for implementation.

Time spent doing this will eliminate weeks of back and forth between groups and, more importantly, not waste developing a mobile application that is myopic and only providing benefits for one part of the resort.  It will insure that the return on investment is spread across all guest service departments within the organization