Superstitions run deep in the casino world. The number 13 is infamous for the bad luck it may bring. When was the last time you saw a 13th-floor in a hotel? Ironically, though, many casino marketers unknowingly make moves that could be considered unlucky, weakening their brands and setting themselves up for lost revenue and waning customer loyalty.

As a casino marketer, I have seen my share of brilliant campaigns and moves that erode a brand’s strength. Here are 13 unlucky mistakes to avoid, plus the strategies you need to create a casino brand so lucky it practically pulls in loyal guests by magic.

Unlucky Move #1: Inconsistent Brand Application

Your logo, colors, and overall design are the visual shorthand for your brand. But a casino’s brand extends far beyond visuals into the heart of its purpose and the guest experience. Inconsistent application of visuals or, worse, a disconnect between how you look and how you feel chips away at your brand and infects the entire guest experience.

Consider the many ways your visual branding comes to life.

  • Marketing Collateral: Are your signs, on-property videos, and menus visually cohesive?
  • Promotional Items: Do your giveaways, swag, and employee uniforms reflect the same brand standards?
  • Advertisements: Are your TV spots, radio ads, and social media content sending a unified message?
  • Even Your Checks: Yes, how you pay your staff and vendors reflects your brand!

You will likely uncover inconsistencies if you thoroughly audit your brand’s visual presence. Often, these are born from production limitations or well-meaning but misguided creative “design.”

But there’s more to this than looks: your brand’s vibe and the experience you deliver must match those visuals. Does the energy on the casino floor, the tone of your staff’s interactions, and the overall ambiance align with what your logo promises?  A disconnect here can be just as damaging.

The solution? A comprehensive Brand Style Guide serves as the rulebook for your brand. It provides clear guidelines on logo usage, color palettes, typography, and even the tone of voice you use in messaging. When applied consistently, this guide ensures that every touchpoint reinforces your brand’s unique identity, from your website to your social posts to your players club.

A strong brand style guide is vitally helpful in your marketing efforts. Still, it can also inform your operations, guide team member behavior, and ultimately elevate the guest and team member experiences. Remember, a casino’s brand is built on how it looks and feels.

Unlucky Move #2: Short-Term Thinking

The world around us is seemingly constantly changing. So, it is tempting to focus on quick wins. You see a competitor offer aggressive free play, so you increase your offers. They give away a car; you give away a luxury vacation. You spot a viral TikTok trend, and suddenly, your social media team is brainstorming a casino-themed dance challenge.

These tactics could temporarily surge foot traffic or social media engagement. However, they rarely translate into lasting brand loyalty. They can actively harm your brand in the long run if customers become loyal to the offer or trend rather than your brand.

Consider this:

  • Discounting Your Value: Constantly competing on price trains your players to expect deals, not to appreciate your unique offerings.
  • Losing Sight of the Big Picture: Knee-jerk reactions often neglect the core needs of your most valuable players. Filling the casino floor with customers does not markedly move revenue if they are not the most appropriate customers. Additionally, filling the casino floor with bodies can needlessly pressure resources.
  • Diluting Your Brand Experience: Chasing every trend risks turning your casino into a generic copycat rather than the distinctive, memorable destination you aspire to be.

The Antidote: Long-Term Brand Strategy

So, how do you break free from the short-term thinking trap? It all starts with a rock-solid brand strategy.

  1. Vision: Clearly define your brand’s vision for the future. What do you want your casino to represent in the minds of your players?
  2. Values: Identify the core values that guide your brand’s actions and decisions.
  3. Target Audience: Go beyond demographics. Understand the psychographics of your ideal player – their desires, motivations, and what they value in a casino experience.
  4. Data-Driven Decisions: Use data to track your progress, measure your marketing efforts’ effectiveness, and identify improvement opportunities.
  5. Continuous Evaluation: Brands evolve. So, your brand strategy cannot be a “set it and forget it” document. Regularly revisit and refine it to keep your brand fresh and relevant.

Remember, brand marketing is a marathon, not a sprint.  By prioritizing long-term brand-building over quick fixes, you’ll cultivate a loyal following that appreciates your casino for its unique offerings, not just its fleeting discounts.

Unlucky Move #3: Social Media as an Afterthought

Remember when social media was dismissed as a toy for “the young?”  Well, those days are long gone. Your current and future players are active on social media platforms, connecting with friends, sharing experiences, and even dreaming of their next casino getaway.

Treating social media as an afterthought is a critical mistake. And yes, I’m including TikTok in this. More importantly, these platforms are no longer “free advertising.” They’re dynamic, evolving ecosystems that require a thoughtful approach and a dedicated effort to achieve measurable results.

Here’s why treating social media as an afterthought is so unlucky:

  • Missed Connections: If you are not actively engaging and creating a community, you miss out on valuable opportunities to spark conversations, build relationships, and create ambassadors.
  • Algorithm Blues: Posting inconsistently or relying on outdated tactics will not help you maintain a presence. Algorithms prioritize relevant, engaging content. You need to be savvy about what and when you share.
  • Generational Gap: Newer platforms like TikTok or Twitch might feel unfamiliar, but they are increasingly popular with the next generation of casino players. Ignoring them is ignoring your future customers.

The Solution: A Strategic Social Presence

To turn your social media luck around, tie it directly to your overall growth strategy.

  • Set Clear Goals: What do you want to achieve with social media? Have you increased brand awareness? More website traffic? Higher player engagement? Define your goals and align your social media efforts accordingly.
  • Know Your Metrics: Track the right metrics. Focus on those tied to your business objectives, not just vanity metrics like follower counts. Do your social media efforts lead to more bookings, longer stays, or increased spending?
  • Create Engaging Content: Share content that resonates with your audience. Think beyond promotions: behind-the-scenes glimpses, player spotlights, contests, and interactive polls can all drive engagement.
  • Embrace New Platforms: Don’t be afraid to experiment with emerging platforms. It is where your future players are.

Social media is an essential tool in your marketing arsenal, capable of building a vibrant community around your brand and driving significant business results.

Unlucky Move #4: Neglecting Guest Service

If you hire staff to park cars, print cards or seat guests at a restaurant table, you will likely find the right people to perform those tasks. However, if you hire staff to embody your brand, you will hire a brand ambassador who can perform tasks. Every interaction, from the valet greeting to the cashier’s farewell, shapes a guest’s perception of your casino. Understanding this difference and providing proper training that empowers ambassadors is crucial.

A disengaged, poorly trained staff can lead to:

  • Negative Word-of-Mouth: Unhappy guests are far more likely to share their experiences online and with friends, tarnishing your image. More importantly, in regional casinos, the relationship between a guest and a team member is often blurred, and guests quickly learn the good and the bad about our operations.
  • Missed Upsell Opportunities: A knowledgeable, enthusiastic team can suggest additional services or experiences, boosting your revenue.
  • Increased Employee Turnover: High turnover rates are costly and disruptive, leading to inconsistent service and a lack of brand loyalty among staff.

The Solution

Your amazing staff is the living embodiment of your brand. Training and empowering your team to deliver exceptional experiences ensures they project your desired image, turning guests into raving fans.

  • Comprehensive Training: Equip your team with in-depth knowledge of your games, amenities, and brand values.
  • Empowerment: Encourage and equip staff to go above and beyond to solve guest problems and exceed expectations.
  • Recognition and Rewards: Celebrate and reward employees who consistently deliver outstanding service and demonstrate brand values.
  • Feedback Loop: Actively solicit feedback from guests and team members to identify areas for improvement.

Remember, happy employees create happy guests, and happy guests become loyal brand advocates.

Unlucky Move #5: The ‘If it Ain’t Broke…’ Fallacy

Stagnation is the enemy of a dynamic, successful brand.  Even if things are going smoothly, embrace calculated evolution, innovation, and adaptation.

Resist the urge to rest on your laurels. Even if your casino is doing well, the market is constantly evolving. New technologies emerge. Player preferences shift, and competitors are always looking for an edge. Stagnation is a slippery slope that leads to irrelevance.

Ignoring the need for innovation can result in:

  • Lost Market Share: Newer, more innovative casinos will capture the attention (and wallets) of those seeking fresh experiences.
  • Diminishing Returns: What worked yesterday may not work today and will likely fall short tomorrow. Failing to adapt can lead to declining revenue and player engagement.
  • Brand Image Decline: A stagnant brand can be perceived as outdated and unappealing, especially to newer, younger customers. And even existing customers will notice the stagnation and look for brands that evolve as they do.

The Solution

  • Embrace Change:  Foster a culture of innovation and experimentation within your organization. Make new idea pitching a part of your meetings.
  • Stay Ahead of Trends: Keep a pulse on emerging technologies, gaming preferences, and industry best practices.
  • Regularly Evaluate: Conduct ongoing assessments of your offerings, marketing strategies, and guest feedback to identify areas for improvement.
  • Don’t Be Afraid to Take Calculated Risks:  Innovation often involves stepping outside your comfort zone.

Unlucky Move #6: Audience Disconnect

Today’s players have diverse interests, preferences, and spending habits. The days of one-size-fits-all marketing are over. Assuming you know what customers want without truly understanding them is a recipe for disconnect and missed opportunities.

Ignoring audience wants and needs can lead to:

  • Irrelevant Marketing: Generic campaigns that don’t speak to specific player segments will fall flat.
  • Missed Revenue Opportunities: Failing to tailor your offers and experiences to different player types leaves money on the table.
  • Brand Image Misalignment: If your brand does not resonate with your target audience, they will look elsewhere for a casino that “gets” them.

Unlucky Move #7: Lack of Differentiation

Blending in is a death sentence. If your brand doesn’t have a unique identity, a compelling story, or a distinct value proposition, players will have no reason to choose you over the competition.

Failing to differentiate can result in:

  • Commoditization: You become just another casino, forced to compete solely on price.
  • Loss of Brand Loyalty: Players will not feel a solid connection to a generic, forgettable brand.
  • Missed Marketing Opportunities: A unique brand identity is more straightforward to promote and creates buzz.

The Solution

  • Develop a Compelling Brand Story: What makes your casino unique? What is your history, your culture, your values?
  • Identify Your Unique Selling Proposition: What sets you apart from other casinos? Is it your atmosphere, rewards program, culinary offerings, or something else? A word of advice: if you believe it is your staff or your service, they better be THE best and uncopyable.
  • Infuse Your Brand into Everything: Every touchpoint should reflect your unique brand identity, from your website and social media to your staff uniforms and interior design.

In a crowded market, fading into the background is a recipe for lost revenue.  Build a bold brand identity with a unique voice and personality that makes you unforgettable.

The Solution

Segmentation strategies and voice of the customer programs allow you to evolve your brand and offerings at the pace of customer evolution.

  • Deep Dive into Data: Analyze player data to uncover distinct segments based on demographics, behaviors, and preferences.
  • Voice of the Customer Programs: The success and longevity of a casino operation lie in its ability to truly understand its guests. Feedback isn’t just data; it’s the lifeblood that informs the evolution of any operation.
  • Tailored Messaging: Craft targeted campaigns that speak directly to each segment’s desires and needs. Use your data to determine the channels most appropriate for your audience.
  • Personalized Experiences:  Offer a variety of amenities, entertainment, and gaming options that cater to different player types.

It is essential to know your target audience, their wants, and their changing habits. Tailor your brand messaging, promotions, and amenities to resonate deeply with the people you want to attract.

Unlucky Move #8: Rose-Colored Glasses

It is easy to fall in love with your casino brand. You’ve poured your heart and soul into crafting it and see its potential. However, viewing your brand through rose-colored glasses can be a costly mistake.

As the old saying goes, “Love is blind.” The same can be true for brand affection. When you are too close to something, it is easy to overlook its flaws or missteps in understanding how your guests see you.

This rosy outlook can often lead to:

  • Missed Opportunities: You might be so focused on your brand’s strengths that you miss opportunities to improve or address weaknesses, turning players away.
  • Stagnation: Clinging to outdated ideas or tactics because they “worked before” can prevent you from evolving and staying relevant.
  • Misguided Marketing: If your perception of your brand is off, your marketing campaigns might not resonate with your target audience.

The Antidote: Honest Assessment and Guest Feedback

Here’s how to swap those rose-colored glasses for a clearer perspective:

  • Be Brutally Honest: Take off those rose-colored glasses and assess your brand with a critical eye. What is working? What’s not? What are your competitors doing better? You can benefit from mystery shoppers seeing your brand from the outside.
  • Seek Out Guest Feedback: Don’t just rely exclusively on what you think you see, like a full restaurant or on internal opinions only. Conduct regular surveys, focus groups, or one-on-one interviews with valuable players. What do they think of the brand experience? How do they see your brand relative to other options?
  • Embrace Data: Use analytics to track how your brand is performing online and offline. Are your marketing efforts driving the results you expect?

By fostering an environment of honest self-assessment and actively seeking guest feedback, you will gain valuable insights that can guide your brand’s evolution and ensure it stays relevant and appealing to your target audience. Remember, the most successful brands aren’t built on wishful thinking but on honesty, data, and a deep understanding of their customers.

Unlucky Move #9: Pricing Missteps

Pricing is tricky. If it is too high, you risk seeming out of touch. If your price is too low, you could attract business, but you can set unsustainable expectations or undercut your brand value. Pricing is more than dollars and cents; it is a powerful statement about your brand.

Price is a reflection of value. The cost of your slot machines, table games, food and beverage, entertainment options, and your point earning and redemption programs all contribute to how guests perceive the overall worth of their experience at your casino.

Here’s where things can go wrong:

  • Slot Hold Percentage: There is an ongoing debate regarding how aware customers are of slot hold. While increasing the hold percentage to boost short-term profits might be tempting, this could backfire. Guests are often more savvy than we give them credit for. If they feel the games are “tight” or likely how their budget “doesn’t last as long,” they’ll take their business elsewhere.
  • Discounting Overload: While occasional promotions are great, over-reliance on discounts can train your players to only visit when there’s a deal, eroding their perception of your standard value. Likewise, discounting an offering upon introduction sets a level that customers will never want to spend higher.
  • Inconsistent Pricing: If your prices fluctuate wildly or seem arbitrary, it creates confusion and distrust. Guests want to feel they’re getting a fair deal.

The Solution: Strategic Pricing Aligned with Your Brand

Instead of viewing pricing as a separate issue, consider it an integral part of your brand strategy.

  1. Understand Your Audience: Research your target market’s spending habits and price sensitivities.
  2. Align with Your Brand: If you are a luxury destination, it is expected that you will be priced higher, but if you are a value-focused casino, your prices should reflect that.
  3. Focus on Perceived Value: Don’t just lower prices; enhance the perceived value of your offerings through exceptional service, unique experiences, small touches, and top-notch amenities.
  4. Communicate Clearly: Be transparent about your pricing. Guests appreciate knowing what to expect. Don’t forget to consider how your team members communicate pricing (and changes) to guests. Their explanations and attitudes can significantly impact how guests perceive the value of your offerings.

By strategically aligning your pricing with your brand identity and guest expectations, you’ll create a sustainable model that attracts the right players, maximizes revenue, and reinforces the value of your brand.

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Unlucky Move #10: Tech Lag

Today’s consumers expect a seamless, tech-forward experience. They want to book rooms online, order food from their phones, and enjoy the latest games and entertainment options. Many casino customers are even starting to look for digital payment options. Falling behind on technological advancements can make your casino feel outdated and irrelevant.

Ignoring technological advancements can result in the following:

  • Frustrated Guests: A clunky website, slow service, or outdated games will quickly turn off tech-savvy players.
  • Lost Revenue:  Depending on your jurisdiction, missed opportunities for mobile betting, online bookings, and cashless transactions can significantly impact your bottom line.
  • Brand Image Damage: A reputation for being behind the times isn’t going to attract new players.

The Solution:

  • Invest in Technology:  Allocate resources to upgrade your website, mobile app, payment systems, and gaming technology.
  • Stay Informed: Keep up with the latest trends in casino technology and consumer preferences.
  • Prioritize User Experience: Ensure that any new technology you implement is easy to use and enhances the guest experience.
  • Digital Communications: Understand the preferred communication channels for personalized and mass communications.

Unlucky Move #11: Underestimating the Power of Your Team (and Overestimating Influencers)

Your team members are your most valuable brand ambassadors. They interact with guests daily, shaping their experiences and influencing their perceptions of your casino. Yet, casinos often reduce brand training to a quick tagline and logo overview. This is a missed opportunity of epic proportions.

Here’s why underestimating your team is unlucky:

  • Missed Brand Magic: Your staff can be a wellspring of creative ideas and personalized interactions that uniquely bring your brand to life.
  • Inconsistent Experiences: When team members don’t fully understand your brand’s essence, it leads to inconsistent service and missed opportunities to create memorable moments.
  • Disengaged Employees: A lack of brand connection can lead to disengaged staff who simply go through the motions rather than passionately representing your casino.

The Influencer Trap

While influencers can bring visibility, relying too heavily on them can be a gamble. They might not truly embody your brand values, and their audience might not be a perfect brand alignment.

  • Authenticity Risk: Forced partnerships can feel inauthentic and alienate your followers and the influencer’s audience.
  • Short-Term Gains: Influencer marketing often yields short-term results, while your team can provide consistent, long-term brand advocacy.
  • Control Issues: You have less control over how an influencer portrays your brand than your carefully trained staff.

Employee Ambassador

The Solution: Empower Your Team and Influencer Partners

  1. In-Depth Brand Training: Go beyond the basics. Immerse your team and partners in your brand story, values, and vision. Help them understand how their roles contribute to the bigger picture.
  2. Open Communication: Encourage open dialogue and feedback. Your staff are on the front lines and can offer valuable insights into guest experiences and brand perception.
  3. Recognition and Empowerment: Celebrate employees who exemplify your brand values. Give them the autonomy to make decisions that enhance the guest experience.
  4. Strategic Partnerships: If you work with influencers, choose those who align with your brand and whose audience matches your target market.

By investing in your team and fostering a culture of brand ambassadorship, you’ll create a powerful force that delivers exceptional service and authentically embodies and amplifies your brand message. Your team is your greatest asset. Don’t underestimate their potential to shape your casino’s reputation and create unforgettable guest experiences.

Unlucky Move #12: Being Unprepared for a Crisis

The unexpected can strike at any time. An accident on the gaming floor, a cyberattack, a natural disaster, or even a security threat can quickly escalate into a full-blown crisis. Ignoring this possibility is a gamble you can’t afford to take.

Lack of crisis preparedness can result in:

  • Damaged Reputation: A poorly handled crisis can tarnish your brand’s image, losing guests’ trust and loyalty.
  • Financial Losses: Operational disruptions, legal fees, and negative publicity can all have a significant economic impact.
  • Regulatory Scrutiny: A crisis can attract the attention of regulatory bodies, potentially leading to fines, penalties, or even the loss of your license.
  • Employee Morale: A poorly managed crisis can leave employees feeling vulnerable and unsupported, leading to decreased productivity and high turnover.

The Solution: Proactive Crisis Management

  1. Develop a Crisis Plan: Create a detailed plan outlining the steps to be taken in various crisis scenarios. This includes communication protocols, evacuation procedures, and designated spokespeople.
  2. Regular Training: Conduct regular crisis drills and simulations to ensure your staff knows their roles and can respond effectively in emergencies.
  3. Transparent Communication: In a crisis, open and honest communication is crucial. Keep team members, guests and the public informed about the situation, your response, and any safety measures in place.
  4. Post-Crisis Evaluation: Conduct a thorough review after a crisis to identify what worked well and what could be improved. Use these insights to refine your crisis plan.

Remember, the best way to handle a crisis is to be prepared for one. By proactively addressing potential threats and having a solid plan, you can minimize damage to your brand and demonstrate your commitment to the safety and well-being of your guests and employees.

Unlucky Move #13: Assuming You Know Everything About the Competition

It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking you’ve figured out your rivals. But markets shift, consumer behaviors change, and your competitors are innovating, too. Regular competitive analysis – looking at their promotions, messaging, tech adoption, etc. – is crucial to stay informed and identify chances to leapfrog them.

Ignoring your competition can result in the following:

  • Missed Opportunities: You might be blind to new trends, marketing tactics, or technology your competitors are leveraging.
  • Falling Behind: Complacency is the enemy of progress. You’ll quickly fall behind the competition if you’re not actively trying to improve.
  • Losing Your Edge: Your unique selling proposition might lose its luster if competitors offer similar experiences or better value.

The Solution

  • Regular Competitive Analysis: Make it a habit to track your competitors’ moves, including their marketing campaigns, pricing strategies, new offerings, and technological advancements.
  • Learn from Their Successes (and Mistakes): Don’t be afraid to borrow good ideas from your competitors and learn from their missteps.
  • Stay Ahead of the Curve: Continuously innovate and look for ways to differentiate your brand and offer something truly unique to your players.

Building a winning casino brand requires more than just luck; it demands strategic thinking, adaptability, and a deep understanding of your audience. By recognizing and avoiding these 13 unlucky moves, you can transform your brand from a potential liability into a powerful asset that drives revenue, loyalty, and lasting success. Don’t let your brand become another cautionary tale. Take control of your destiny and build a casino brand that’s truly unforgettable.

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