I am writing this article exactly three weeks into a time when businesses are closed and casinos have gone dark to protect the communities and employees that make them possible.
I have been fortunate to be in digital, mobile and e-mail businesses, working with both casinos and vendors. I am busier than ever and I’m seeing firsthand every approach in dealing with not being able to be open and aiming at a moving target for re-opening.
What I learned early in this situation is that the wrong thing to do is sit and do nothing, letting your players wonder when they will be able to get back to the casino. Players in many markets are typically older, retired, and less reliant on working income than most of us, so there is a good chance they are as concerned about getting their latest casino offers as they are about getting more hand sanitizer and toilet paper. They are sheltering in place—and their gaming wallets are likely growing.
For this reason, it behooves gaming operators to have a digital marketing strategy that keeps all customers engaged and drives potential revenue no matter what the circumstances. The digital marketing strategy should include:
- A mobile app for loyalty and guest experiences. Moving to a COVID-preventing touchless experience could be the difference between success and failure in the months to come. Having a mobile app reduces lines at the players club, trips to the kiosk to participate in a drawing, waiting in line to check into a hotel room, calling a car to valet, using hard cash at a slot machine, ordering a drink and so on will become increasingly valuable to casino enterprises.
- A social gaming site. A social casino allows players to continue to play their favorite titles and earn rewards on their computers or on mobile devices. This would drive revenue for the casino and keep players playing.
- Building gamification into the online casino brand. Online promotional games would keep players entertained and allow players to continue earning rewards while the casino is closed. Games are a welcome break from the news and staring at the TV. These games raise engagement with the e-mail program which needs to be active in order to increase or even maintain delivery when regular operations are back.
Here are some casino-oriented predictions for the remainder of 2020:
- Casinos will reduce the number of slot machines and table games to create space for social distancing, which will increase the demand by players and create lines at the casino. This new way of reintroducing gambling at tribal and commercial casinos will slowly evolve. Unused space will be converted to slot floor to ensure that the maximum number of slot machines are available while allowing social distancing.
- State regulators will open up new opportunities for online and mobile gaming to ramp up revenue for operators and the states, which, ultimately, will allow online gaming to become commonplace and widely accepted in the U.S. Online gaming offered exclusively by tribal and commercial operators will help prevent gaming losses in the future and allow many players to maintain their gambling spend while reducing the number of machines in all casinos for social distancing.
- All tribal and commercial casinos will engage a mobile app development company to build out tools for their players to maintain social distancing and reduce their time spent physically interacting with casino staff, standing in line with other players and checking into hotel rooms. Putting the controls into the phones and hands of the guest will make the casino environment safer and touchless.
- Touchless gifting will be a desired way of getting gifts and rewards to players. No longer will casino operators want the risk of having players come to the property, stand in line and touch the product that has to go to guests.
- Social casinos will become vital tools for casino marketers with a new focus on generating revenue.
- Websites that are purely informational and only allow for event ticket purchase and hotel bookings will quickly evolve to drive revenue and keep players engaged. For casinos who have fallen behind on their online presence, 2020 will be an online renaissance—integrating all parts of the casino with an online player portal, message center, social casino, promotional games, redemption center/loyalty mall and more.
- Casino loyalty mobile apps will have an added priority on guest services. Integrating mobile keyless entry for the hotel, mobile check-in and check-out, room service ordering, valet, kiosk functionality, drink ordering, offer and reward redemptions and more. The days of having a purely informational mobile app is going to the wayside.