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More Key Findings That Show How Your Casino Compares to Competitors

Ladder Competition

Data on players clubs, promotions and advertising/communications

In January, Raving released the first national study of casino marketing based on data from 53 Tribal casinos nationwide. Whether you’re with a tribal or commercial casino, the results from this study are designed as a tool to help and inform you.

In the last issue of this magazine, I wrote about the survey data that showed the diff erent types of research that casinos are doing. This type of data can show you what’s happening at other casinos so that you can see where you fit in the spectrum.

In this article, we’ll look at some diff erent key findings from the survey:

  • Players Club – What percent of clubs have a tiered structure? What is the average percent of tracked play? What redemption options are offered?
  • Promotions – What is trending in 2017? What are casinos planning to do with free play? Which promotions are the most successful?
  • Advertising/Communications – What are the most effective mediums? What ad channel changes are casinos planning? What is the average ratio of casinos for email vs. direct mail messaging?

Players Club

Players clubs are a huge part of a marketing budget, so we’re constantly looking at ways to make our programs more effi cient and cost-effective. Tiering is pretty much the norm now at most casinos – 81% have tiered club levels.

This is the breakdown of tiered vs. single level, as categorized by the size of the casino’s slot floor:

  • Casinos with less than 250 machines: 25% tiered
  • Casinos with 251-700 machines: 66% tiered
  • Casinos with 701-1,500 machines: 91% tiered
  • Casinos with over 1,500 machines: 100% tiered (there will be exceptions as more casinos are surveyed)

Tracked play is another metric that is important for club success. According to the survey, 41% of casinos have tracked play between 60-79%; followed closely by 38% of casinos with 40-59% of tracked play. The top category – 80% or more tracked play – was held by 13% of casinos. The bottom category – less than 10% tracked play – was held by just 2% of casinos.

Redemption options are changing, as the data shows. When I worked at the property level, players redeemed their points by getting cash. It was important not to have a players club close to the front door because that made it easier for players to cash out and leave. Today, just 31% of casinos still off er their players the option of redeeming points for cash.

Promotions

The survey also asked several questions about promotions to determine whether there are any changes that we can anticipate occurring. Data showed that most casinos are holding the line on promotions: 80% are planning the same amount of promotions this year as last year, 13% are planning on increasing promotions this year, and 7% said they’ll be decreasing promotions in 2017.

Free play is another key topic when we’re talking about promotions. Over the years, it’s taken on more characteristics of an entitlement than a promotion, but we’re stuck with it for now. Or are we? According to the survey, 13% of casinos are going to cut back on free play this year. Another 13% are going to increase it, but most casinos (72%) are going to hold the line and keep free play at the same level this year.

At Raving conferences, a common question from the audience is, “What promotions work best?” We always look at competitors to see if they’re coming up with better ideas, and we worry that the cash and car promotions that are our promotion mainstays may be losing their luster with players. Survey data shows that 89% of casinos say that cash drawings are successful; 67% of car drawings are successful promotions. The challenge for casino marketers is to make these promotion workhorses continue to be exciting and fun for customers.

Advertising/Communications

Advertising/Communications is where we see the most change, according to survey data. Technology is changing the way we reach out to our customers, and new mediums are evolving to challenge our marketing budget. The traditional mediums – newspaper, TV and radio – are losing ad dollars to social media and other emerging mediums. The biggest cut is in newspapers, with 37% of casinos planning reduced print buys. The biggest gain will be in social media, with 65% planning increased spending. Survey data shows that casinos rank TV as the most effective way to reach potential customers (42%), and direct mail (81%) as the most effective way to reach existing customers. These fi gures may be diff erent next year as communications continue to evolve.

Another area of interest and importance for casino marketers is how – or if – to make the shift from direct mail messaging to emails. Survey data shows that 62% of casinos plan on increasing their email messaging this year. The above graphic shows where the industry is today regarding this transition:

There is much more information in this survey report that is designed to help you determine how your marketing program and department compares with other casinos. We’re starting to prepare for next year’s study. If your casino did not participate in this study, we warmly invite you and strongly encourage you to participate next year. The more data we have, the more valuable this annual research project will be.

Deb Hilgeman, Ph.D.

Deb Hilgeman, Ph.D.