Appears We Will See Casinos Opening in May

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Let’s consider two big things!

A few states have re-opened to some degree, with other states coordinating efforts regionally, which means many of you are well into execution mode of your latest re-opening plan. As we approach the return of gaming entertainment, several casinos are executing surveys to get a feel for guest safety concerns, eagerness to return, and discretionary spend budgets.

It’s fairly reasonable to assume that guests will not be returning with the same wallet they enjoyed pre-Covid19. Especially the group most impacted during this time, the coveted 60+ demographic. In addition to the obvious health risks for this group, 401k programs have suffered a 25% hit. The furloughed employee has taken on debt awaiting stimulus checks and jobless benefits. Another consideration is frequency. Will guests have broken their play pattern and realize they do not need to frequent casinos as often as they did pre-closure? Things could swing the other way with pent up demand forcing yielding measures given reduction in gaming positions. Clearly things will be different but to what extent? Reinvestment flexibility will be key to early success which leads to our first BIG thing:

#1. Prepare for pivotunity!

Ensure you have put yourself in a position to be flexible based on early returns. Communication speed will be important, so examine your email and app penetration rates. Can you speak to 80-90% of your database electronically? If not, now is the time to conduct campaigns to capture that information from guests and update your database.

Consider treating every guest as a new member for the first 30-60 days and set aside the traditional core offer structure for a true Pavlovian bounce back program. Using app messaging and email, you can deploy an offer to guests within 24 hours that is truly reflective of return play. This also allows you flexibility should Covid19 cases spike which could force a re-closure in a few months.

Build marketing programs on your kiosks, such as spin to win, birthday wheels, virtual scratch games, daily free play prizes, etc. Most kiosk software programs can be modified in real time so if you find re-opening reinvestment moving beyond profitable levels, or coming in too low, you can tweak your kiosk prize matrix on the fly. Set aside expensive fixed costs promotions for the time being.

#2. Give little credence to pre-closure guest behavior.

Property Marketers all have the same primary mandate: drive incremental and profitable revenue. There is simply no historical precedence upon which one can predict how guests will respond, so investing in players based on ADW from six months ago has high risk of being unprofitable. A reasonable reinvestment approach would include an understanding of guests by zip codes within 100 miles of your property with focus on unemployment claims, affluence, COVID19 cases, age, etc. This would help derive a baseline understanding you can apply to pro-forma reinvestment models. Move from swag to educated swag.

Be mindful of what offers you honor from prior to closure. Unused March core offers? Forget about them. They were built on play behavior from November 2019 – January 2020. Seemingly a lifetime ago. Honoring those offers was an interesting concept had closure been brief. Completing things like interrupted continuity gift programs makes sense. With a focus on safety, you may consider being very selective with who and how many you incent to return initially.

Chances are, you’ll be asked to do more with less upon re-opening. The ability to flex, pivot, and navigate the new normal, will be crucial in hyper competitive markets. We can provide quick data reviews and interim resources. Give us a call.

Steve Dahle

Steve Dahle