Over the last few weeks, we have probably had the most significant access to expertise and the sharing of reopening experiences. If there is one positive thing that has come out of this strange time, we’ve found ways to look beyond our four walls, not only for operations advice but also for marketing.
Casino Marketing Boot Camp presented its first webinar in May entitled Kickstart Your Restart. Six casino marketing veterans came together to provide some ideas of what we can do to get our marketing (and our business) a jumpstart (or rather, kickstart).
At the time, casino marketers everywhere were trying to answer some common questions.
- Do we continue reinvestment as is? Lower it? Increase it?
- Do we open with a big promotion (or any promotion)?
- How does our toolbox change or evolve?
- We’re all asking these questions and more.
- We do know that whatever answers are right for our casinos, we will need to reignite our marketing and reimagine our marketing programs.
TIP #1: Manage Expectations
Justin Shank is the principle at Shank Marketing. He helps clients integrate social media and digital marketing into the overall strategic marketing plan. So, it was no surprise that Justin recognizes social media as a primary tool. He sees high value in using the channel to continuously manage visit expectations but providing ongoing updates regarding health and safety programs. He also recommends that every casino provide clear, up-to-date answers to frequently asked questions. The should be easily accessed on the property website by both team members and guests. Consider a button on the home page.
And always remember to interact with social media followers. Be creative with posts, be authentic, be flexible, and always ensure efforts are in support of the overall business goals.
TIP #2: Treat Everyone as You Would a Guest in Your Home
After a long career in gaming, Jim White now divides his time running Jim White Advantage and curating the culture of Ignite Medical Resorts. He provides guest service and casino host training to properties nationwide. As diverse as his work is, his strategy is simple: to treat everyone as if they were a guest in his own home. This philosophy is at the core of his advice to casino marketers.
As guests venture back out into the world for some semblance of normalcy, it is critical they feel welcomed as they walk through our doors. He is in full agreement with Justin when he advises we share the news of the changes we are making to ensure a safe, comfortable experience for guests.
TIP #3: Empower Team Members
If ever, we realized all of our team members play an essential role, it is now. Jim recommends allowing casino hosts a bit more latitude. As the primary contact for high-worth guests, this small group will know what it takes for visits to be enjoyable and repeat worthy.
However, we must not overlook other team members who have created and nurtured relationships with guests. Players club representatives, generally restricted to a set of pre-determined actions, might be able to profitably enhance visits if they can be given a bit more flexibility. The key to the expansion of authorizations is always a clear understanding of underlying business goals.
Additionally, this is an excellent opportunity to review policies and procedures and understand how they impact top-tier customers.
TIP #4: Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.
Both White and Shank agree that communication is of utmost importance. Continue to communicate the fun things that are happening on the property. Show target customers they can still have the level of fun they were accustomed to and that it is worth overcoming the anxiety they may experience when they leave their homes. They want to know that in addition to keeping them as safe as possible, they will still have the fun they always expected.
Shank suggests some things that could help create a little FOMO in customers.
- Live-streaming the reopening of different areas on the property
- Celebrate any improvements that have made since the closure
- Hosting virtual events like concerts or drawings
- Postingjackpot winners
Communicate any perks that are being extended and other modifications being made to the players club and offers.
TIP #5: Review, Evaluate and Adjust Offers
Through her company, Profitable Customers, veteran database marketer Mary Loftness helps casinos implement profitable programs. Although the playbook may differ from property to property, this current situation requires we all execute a very similar play. Begin with the end in mind when making changes to reinvestment programs.
She urges us to ask how many people we can handle safely and how we want to incentivize the right visits. Are there any issues with our “regular” programs that we can take this opportunity to fix?
She recommends a few tactics.
- Include a warm greeting and discussion of safety measures in communications.
- Address capacity control processes so guests will be knowledgable before they reach the door (or line).
- Notify guests of any other changes such as changes to smoking, ingress/egress, social distancing, and requirements such as temperature readings and masks.
- Consider tightening the offer timeline.
- Wait for safety to improve before adding big promotions, entertainment, and food offers.Stage mail drops in manageable amounts.
Tip #6: Consider New Ways to Manage the Mail
Matt Holliday of Franklin Data Empowered Direct Marketing suggests we consider a “print and hold” production approach where feasible so we can hit the mail stream quickly when ready. In this ever-changing environment, digital printing gives us full flexibility so that we can avoid tossing outdated shells and utilize variable content and imagery to create more personal mailers.
He reminds us to dedicate more space to safety/cleanliness, of particular importance to the traditional core players. Like Justin, Matt highly recommends we show and tell what is being done to keep players safe.
Tip #7: Rethink Promotions
SCA’s Linda Gordon has created a plethora of promotions in her career. “It is going to be different,” she says. Promotions we have relied on to drive traffic to the casino will require a new approach that includes assurances to customers of changes that have made to provide a safe-to-play environment. Customers have experienced significant changes in their lives. The level of qualifying promotional play they were able to achieve before the virus may not be the same as they make their return to the casino environment.
She recommends monitoring guests’ safety as we consider easing into some of the bigger grand floor promotions. Mobile promotions can still drive traffic via prize redemption or geofencing. Touchless digital promotions where games are activated with auto-start technology and are easily modified for card swipe or other launch options will be the preferred methodology.
Game technology delivered to the player without the need to interact directly with the kiosk screen will be necessary. A direct mail piece with a barcode or QR code — You could be holding $50,000! All you have to do is bring this piece in and scan it at the touchless kiosk. — as an example. Additionally, consider directing players to the website to play a digital game with the chance to win a grand prize and secondary prize offerings for extended time frames.
Kiosks can become an even bigger piece of the puzzle when used to help control or monitor occupancy with a check-in/check-out process. A welcome guest promotion can be used to increase engagement during the visit.
As the dynamics of our current life continues to shift, marketers must maintain awareness of any changes and trends. Prepare to shift quickly. Focus on team member safety with the same consideration as guest safety.
The goal now is to stay open.