Let’s talk about peaking the peaks …
Are you still holding on to the belief that you shouldn’t plan promotions on the weekends, shouldn’t allow players to redeem offers on weekends, should focus all your efforts and marketing dollars on the slowest days of the week, month, year? Since I started in the gaming business 23 years ago (July 1994), I have been bombarded by training, management, and marketing professionals who have consistently beat this into my brain. Friday night, Saturday, and sometimes early Sunday are already busy … stop spending money on players who will come on the weekends anyway … try to drive weekday visits with special events, entertainment, free play offers only good for Monday-Thursday, and on and on.
NOT NECESSARILY TRUE.
Now, before all you gaming pros out there start pointing fingers at my ignorance, my naiveté, my misguided strategic thinking … give me a chance to expound.
Let me ask you to look at your particular market. To explore your database. To understand where your revenue comes from. To consider your competition.
- Are you primarily a locals market where it’s easy for your players to visit any day of the week?
- Are you a drive-in market where most of your players require at least 30 minutes to an hour or more to reach your destination?
- Are your players Monday-Friday, 8-6, blue or white collar employees with little shift work?
- Does the bulk of your revenue come from outer markets whose customers stay overnight?
- Most importantly, are you and your management team spending time on your gaming floor and around the property during the peak periods of your business, evaluating your business flow and revenue opportunities? (Or are your best and most loyal managers and employees enjoying the perks of longevity with time off on weekends and holidays?).
- Do you look strategically at how much room there still is to grow business during the busiest times, often the easiest times for your players to visit?
- Are there open seats at slots and tables, do you have available hotel rooms, are certain restaurants clamoring for diners?
I have worked at and with casinos that just can’t push masses of players to visit during the week. For example, the Cripple Creek, Colorado, market, situated at 9,300 feet in the mountains just west of Pikes Peak, is severely challenged to produce weekday visits from customers who live one to two hours “below” them, especially during the winter. There are many tribal casinos whose locations are far from cities or other large populations, and yet they spend significant marketing dollars struggling to fill their slot machines with promotions on a Tuesday or Wednesday evening.
I’m not suggesting that you don’t continue to look for pockets of valuable players who are able to and do visit off-peak, off-season, midweek. Our ability to massage our databases and leverage our increasing knowledge of our guests provides many opportunities to drive visits with personalized, appropriate offers to players who can take advantage of them. Locals can often be persuaded to make an incremental, midweek visit. Retired customers have more freedom in their schedules. Vacationing guests tend to be flexible.
But this doesn’t mean that we should stop trying to maximize our most lucrative business periods, so long as we can continue to offer a good gambling, hospitality and service experience. If we have room for more players on weekends and during peak times, it’s easier and less costly to attract them when they are available. And it’s easier to steal them from the competition if they are more available, as well. Experiment, test, look at opportunities to expand your weekends with offers earlier on Fridays and later on Sundays. Virtual drawings, hot seat promotions, earn-andget gifts (not free giveaways), point challenges, can often be delivered without tremendously increasing staffing, and still creating excitement on your floor and giving players a reason to visit you, rather than the casino down the road.
Several words of warning
Be careful about displacing your key players … favorite slots and tables, parking, restaurant seating, must be considered when trying to expand business during peak times. Be aware of staffing so that your service levels don’t suffer; creating more lines and making your players wait forever for beverages won’t lead to a positive result. Make sure that your management team and best employees are on the clock during your high volume hours … they are the people who are most experienced at handling conflicts, supporting staff members, and providing the attention that your players crave. Continue to control benefit stacking: multiple promotions, tier benefits, and direct marketing offers can turn your player reinvestment upside down. Be sure that you have accounted for player worth when building all your benefit models.
There is no industry blueprint for gaming revenue. Every property is different, every customer base is different. If you have been following old rules or struggling with the restrictions forced on you by old patterns, it may be time to break the paradigm. Look at the needs of your customers and take the revenue when you can get it. Stop fighting against the tide of what works for your property. The bottom line is, after all, the bottom line. There may be value in maximizing your highs. Go ahead … peak your peaks!