Hidden Marketing Messages in the Gaming Industry

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You Want to Do What for Me?

There is a convenience store in my hometown where I often stop to gas up my vehicle. I use a credit card and always try to get a receipt for my gas purchase from one of those thermal ticket printers at the pump. The first several times I tried to get a gas receipt at the pump, a message flashed, saying “Please see cashier.” While annoying, I just figured they had challenges stocking ticket paper at the pump.

But about the fourth different time I had to go inside to retrieve my gas receipt, I asked the friendly counter attendant why their receipt mechanism at the pump never seemed to work.

“They just want you to come in and see my smiling face,” she lied. While this was a creative answer, the look in her eyes told me the truth. THE TICKET PRINTERS WERE DISABLED INTENTIONALLY SO YOU WOULD COME INTO THE CONVENIENCE STORE (where you would likely spend money on high margin, convenience store items).

Noble goal. Deceptive tactic. But of course that got me thinking about all of the times our industry has done something similar with our customers. I lump them all under the heading of “You want to do what for me??” and have included the “casino message” I actually saw (or even received myself) and “what they really meant.”

CASINO MESSAGE: “We are pleased to announce some exciting new changes in our loyalty program that will give even more to our valued players.”

WHAT THEY REALLY MEANT: “Boy, that free play has been killing us, the CFO can’t stand all that point liability on the books. So we had to do something; we didn’t think anyone would notice that we retire the points sooner and require more points for cash redemption as long as we added a 10% discount to the buffet on Mondays, gave everyone a line pass, and created some really cool tier levels with neat names like “Ruby” and “Sapphire.”

CASINO MESSAGE: “In appreciation for your loyalty, we are thrilled to offer you a half-priced room on any weekday for the entire month of December.”

WHAT THEY REALLY MEANT: “Man, we can’t even give those rooms away in December; it’s like a ghost town around here! So we figured why not take a shot with our least valuable players, and see if they’ll part with a few bucks if we give them an offer they’d never get otherwise.”

CASINO MESSAGE: “We are doing our part for the environment and ask you to do yours. Unless you tell us otherwise, we will not give you fresh bed sheets daily and we ask that you hang your towels on the bathroom rack, if you will re-use them. Please help us save valuable water for our planet.”

WHAT THEY REALLY MEANT: “Labor costs in housekeeping have gone through the roof. Hey, help us save a few bucks on time spent changing sheets and washing towels.”

CASINO MESSAGE: “For the equal enjoyment of all our slot players, we are able to hold a slot machine for no more than 30 minutes.”

WHAT THEY REALLY MEANT: “What are you, crazy? Don’t you know how we make our money? We shouldn’t be reserving machines for players at all. That whole thing about it being ‘about to hit’ and you don’t want to lose ‘your jackpot’ to someone else is a bunch of BS anyway.”

CASINO MESSAGE: “We ask that you limit yourself to one plate for our delicious buffet. Return as many times as you want, but please eat what you take.”

WHAT THEY REALLY MEANT: “We can’t have such a dirt cheap price on our buffet if you people eat like pigs. Why do you think we make the plates so small and have the beef carver control the cuts? And we know some of you will stuff leftovers in your bags and purses, but hey, don’t have the gall to ask for a doggie bag!”

CASINO MESSAGE: “We have put an unprecedented package of unparalleled hotel amenities into one simple, inexpensive resort fee that will be added to your folio at checkout and save you the hassle of making numerous individual transactions.”

WHAT THEY REALLY MEANT: “Hey, we’re not fools. We see how the airlines are doing it. If we can get you to pay extra for something that used to be included at no charge, we will!”

You can try to snow your customers with your messaging, or you can communicate plainly, candidly and with an appreciation of the customer perspective. Never risk having them say, “You want to do what for me??” It might make them want to do something for you, or at least TO you.

Dennis Conrad