How to Make Your Casino Resort Top of Mind for …

Girls Night Out

A girls’ night out, couples weekend getaways, and just for the fun of it

In a recent article by fellow Raving Partner, Deana Scott, she asked why casinos are concentrating so much on Millennials, instead of the target market of the 45-60 year old female who has discretionary income. She had several spot-on ideas to more effectively grow this profitable segment.

In that article, she alludes to the non-gambler who spends a lot of money on amenities (even more so than some gamblers). So I wanted to take this conversation a step further and talk about what design elements and services you might be missing at your casino to fully engage this cohort.

Let me ask you this. How many of you personally do not gamble, but have a spouse who does? Do you find yourself killing time instead of enjoying your time at the casino? How many of your friends don’t choose your casino for their special gatherings or weekend-aways? And why is that?

Here are some tips to attract Deana and her friends who have the income to spend:

1. Show that you’re more than slots and a buffet

Okay, although it’s not a design tip, if your casino has added a new restaurant, brewery or tapas & wine bar, or enhanced the spa, if you’re not personally communicating with your non-gamblers, how are they expected to find out about it? If you’re not gathering their info or their spending data because they’re not gamblers, how can you effectively communicate with them?

In Deana’s article she says, “You’re missing a marketing opportunity – Start calculating a player’s Total Worth (hotel, F&B, slots, spa, retail), not just theo win. I may not spend $100 in slots, but I will leave your property having spent at least $1,000 on food, spa, and poolside beverages.”

2. Offer a standout fitness center

Deana and her cohort are part of the Gen X population, so you wanna bet that she works out several times a week? According to Club Industry, “adults over the age of 55 visited health clubs far more frequently than those in younger generations.” According to Yahoo News, 60 percent of regular US travelers say that they use the health and fitness facilities at the (hotel) gym; and for wealthier clients, that figure jumps to 78 percent. You say that no one utilizes your fitness center? Most times it’s because the fitness center is an afterthought, maybe even a converted hotel room, and it’s filled with lousy and outdated workout equipment and technology. Here’s an article from that can help.

3. Put your bars and restaurants in the center of the action

The leading trend in casino architecture is to have bars and restaurants be integrated within the casino, not on the periphery. Why? The action of the gaming floor is exciting and alluring, great for people-watching – so why dilute that energy? Nongamers will enjoy the buzz and the energy of the floor, without being separated. Through multiple expansions, you might find that all of your different environments don’t actually talk to each other. Think about putting an entertainment bar in the center of your floor. If your buffet is on another level or down a hallway or other portal, you’re creating a disconnect. Creating these microenvironments that give more of a social and special feel will create more of those memories that you need to have.

4. Create a spa “experience” – not just a one-hour appointment

Why do the gals choose certain spas over others when they want to make a day of it? As an example, the Peppermill Resort Spa Casino in Reno, Nevada, makes it easy with their “Spa Toscana.” They make it so tempting (and at no additional charge) to stay after your treatment and use their hot and cold plunge pools, enjoy eucalyptus steam and cedar wood saunas, and enjoy the secret garden, which has super comfortable, terry-covered loungers where you can relax to specialty music with provided headphones. They really think about all of your senses, from smell to touch. You can also eat lunch outside by the pool, or order a glass of wine while you’re relaxing. Taking it to the next level is more than just a robe and water with a cucumber in it.

5. Make it easy to “plug in” and connect on and around the casino floor

To cater to Deana and this demographic of non-gamers and gamers alike, you’ll be creating microenvironments within your casino floor, like a bar that is on the gaming floor from one side and the other is in a multipurpose theatre-like space. These can be spaces that show a ball game on the big screen, or have a small band or comedian. And what are people doing during time away from a game or while sitting at a game? They’re talking and they are on their mobile devices, maybe even playing games on their iPad. It took long enough for casinos to have enough outlets in their hotel rooms (that aren’t hard to get to) … so how long will it take for them to put charging stations and USB connections on the casino floor? Make these gathering spots comfortable and appealing, as well as useful to today’s customer. You can already buy bar-top games with USB chargers built in.

6. Show off the WOW factor at your property

If I’m going to get together with some friends, or escape for a weekend with my spouse, there has to be some WOW factor about where I’m going. Maybe the pool has a swim-up bar that reminds me of vacationing in the Caribbean; maybe it’s the great brewery that always has excellent live entertainment and interesting beers on tap; maybe it’s the service and the quality in the steakhouse that makes us feel special; maybe it’s the new golf attraction that everyone’s talking about. Do you have a WOW factor? Also ask yourself, “Could my casino be an amenity to my non-gaming guest?”

7. Don’t make them choose a beautiful day over your resort

Have you blurred your inside and outside boundaries by creating outdoor spaces for eating and lounging? My company has created several outdoor gaming spaces, but that’s only part of it. Is outdoor seating at your lounges a seasonal afterthought? Could you enhance your outdoor restaurant space with fire pits and comfortable seating, or a brick oven that entices with its aromas?

8. Take care of that smoke

And finally, it always comes down to this. You’re never going to get that WOW factor from a smoky, unpleasant environment. And I know that, unless mandated, most casinos aren’t going to go for smoke-free gaming areas. There are many systems that provide 100% outside air, and unless someone is smoking right next to you, you can eliminate that smoke smell. You need to address this today.

Look, before you hire a spa designer, before you buy new workout equipment, before you consider a new fine dining restaurant, give me a call and let’s have a half-hour discussion. Let’s talk about your entire space, your goals, and your budget: the entire scope of what you’re trying to accomplish. You can spend way too much money by piecemealing your projects. I’ve done enormous amounts of research for casinos all over the U.S., and I’m happy to share that knowledge.

John Stewart