Boomers on the road …
Is your casino ready for these traveling players?
My world went totally mobile a few months ago. After selling our Las Vegas house in 2014 and moving into a 34-foot fifth wheel RV in Utah, we took the leap this March, bought a 23-foot travel trailer, hitched it up to our 1996 Dodge Ram 2500 pickup, and hit the road. (I still work with Raving clients across the country, but my office looks a little bit different than most).
We added solar in Arizona and learned about “boondocking” (camping without electric, water or sewer hook-ups) from experienced full-timers.
Since March, we’ve explored Arizona, including Yuma, Phoenix and Tucson, and have made our way through Crater Lake, Oregon, and headed up the Pacific Coast of Washington and Oregon. Glacier and Yellowstone are in the near future.
Our truck has visited (hey, it’s 20 years old!) four repair shops while we waited for triage and winced at the bottom lines. I now know more about fuel shut-off solenoids, brake controllers, fuel filters, and car window regulators than I’d ever wished to know.
But I’m here to talk to you about the people I’m seeing along the way. We’re out there, you know. Baby Boomers, the world’s largest group of retired and soon-to-be-retired seniors. With time on our hands and discretionary savings to spend.
The number of retired Americans, age 65+, is expected to more than double from 39 million in 2010, to 89 million by 2050. Every day, more than 10,000 Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964) reach the age of 65. And lots of them are buying RVs … from luxury coaches, to fifth wheels and travel trailers … and hitting the road. Not to mention the international travelers who come to the U.S. and rent RVs in order to see our beautiful country.
So, gaming management and marketers, what are you doing to capture this business?
A number of years ago, I was conducting a marketing assessment for a casino on the West coast, and they asked my opinion about building a golf course. My answer was … most casino golf courses are money-sucking propositions … consider an RV park. They built a money-pit golf course. Happy to say that they have since added an RV park.
Not sure that your property footprint can handle the infrastructure? Consider the shortcut chosen by Win-River Resort & Casino in Redding, California, where we stayed a few weeks ago.
They targeted the most remote section of their parking lot. Used four spaces for each of the 26 “campsites” (two long, two wide). Added electric (20, 30 and 50 amp), water and sewer hook-ups. Planted grass along the outer fence surrounded by trees, and installed a few picnic tables and grills. Posted a few parcourse fitness stations. Put in a small, fenced dog yard with poop-bag service. The big plus: an amazing army of friendly shuttle drivers, greeting RVers (and all guests in the parking lot) with news about the casino and rides to and from the casino and hotel front doors. Personal service trumps asphalt any day.
Look, it’s camping in a parking lot. But the sites were busy with single and multiple-night visitors. And they were spending time at the casino … playing, eating, and enjoying the entertainment.
My fellow Raving Partner, John Stewart, President of Encompass Develop, Design & Construct, has helped casinos across the country with amenity studies before any plans were drawn. He shares, “RV Parks can be a great and low cost amenity if you have the land. Know your guests and the potential demand (do the research!). And start small. It’s a lot easier to set up some spots in an existing remote parking lot, and as the demand builds, add to it.”
There’s a following for gamblers with RVs
Check out these websites that are tuned in to folks who are specifically looking for RV-friendly casino locations:
If you’ve got the land, Baby Boomers in RVs are on the road. Looking to keep active. With discretionary income. Loving beautiful and serene environments to savor their camping experiences. But, when necessary, they’ll also spend the night outside a Walmart or Kmart (we had to do that once). And like me, a lot of Boomers have a pet, and not all casinos allow pets. The RV keeps everyone in the family happy.
Build a park, get the word out, and they will come.
Maybe I’ll be stopping at your casino sometime soon!