Help, A Giant Casino is My Competition! – Part I of II

Giant Casino in Competition

How mid-sized Tribal casinos thrive in a competitive atmosphere

The 2019 NIGA Tradeshow session “Help­, A Giant Casino Is My Competition! How Mid-Sized Tribal Casinos Thrive in a Competitive Atmosphere ” brought out small to mid-sized casino operators and marketers who wage a daily battle with monster resort properties.

The panel consisted of two mid-sized casino operators, Jake Godin, Director of Marketing, Mole Lake Casino and Jef Bauer, General Manager, Augustine Casino. Rounding out the panel was Raving Consulting’s VP of Operations and analysis expert Lynette O’Connell and myself, Tom Osiecki who fought the Goliath casino battles for years and is now a Raving Partner. The panel was moderated by Deana Scott, Raving CEO. The session was structured around Raving’s Competitive Marketing Strategies program developed by Osiecki.

Here’s the first part of the presentation recap:

Three Steps to Competitive Success

The overall focus for the panel was the Three Steps to Competitive Success:

  1. Know your property’s market share and share of wallet.
  2. Develop a brand that communicates your best guest experience.
  3. After you determine what you do better or different from the competition, adapt that niche as your property focus.

Five Property Types

The panel kicked off with a discussion of the five types of properties identified in the Raving Competitive Marketing Strategies Program. View the Five Property Types.

Know Who You Are and Own It

O’Connell stated that knowing your niche allows a property to focus on programs and data that support your brand. She shared, “It’s critical to identify what your property does well. You can use that knowledge to build your marketing programs. If you can identify where you are on this landscape, you can use your data and your marketing programs to support your identity. If you’re all over the board and trying to be everything, you’re not going to be successful.”

Osiecki stressed that mid-sized properties can be a combination of the five listed properties, “The properties I led were a combination of the Value and the Fun properties. Certainly, the most important thing is to find your niche and stick with it.”

The Mid-Sized Properties: Big Advantage

Augustine Casino General Manager, Jef Bauer stressed “being nimble,.” He likened big casinos to a “big ship that can’t turn as quickly as the little speed boat racing around it.” Bauer said smaller casinos have the advantage of stealth, quickness and the ability to turn on a dime. “Smaller casinos can pick off business from large resort properties that tend not to know their customers and cannot provide the one on one customer service gamers are seeking,” Bauer said.

Small Team Dynamics Take on Goliath

Scott observed that mid-sized properties with small teams can help themselves by delivering the message that “everyone is in marketing.” Insure that every team member at the property knows how their job effects the guest.

O’Connell added, “Because you have a small property, it’s easier to cross those silos. You can reach out to the front-line staff and work together towards your goals.”

“Many of our marketing programs come from ideas suggested by front-line team members. This includes slot attendants, housekeepers, and security officers. Your front-line staff has a lot of knowledge that can help out in tremendous ways,” commented Godin.

Three Proven Tactics

The next segment of the panel focused on Three Proven Tactics for properties without amenities:

  1. Fast and Furious Judo – The ability to act quickly and make quick decisions is a small property advantage.
  2. Own the Mid-Market – Use soft benefits, targeted data base programs, promotions, and events to target the mid-market.
  3. Get Social – A constant stream of content marketing is the most efficient use of budget expense for medium properties.

In part one of this two-part article, we will focus on the first: Fast and Furious Judo.

Let Large Competitors Do the Heavy Lifting

Bauer said, “Big casinos with big entertainment and big hotels will do the heavy lifting by advertising in the market and in the outer markets. As a result, it may not be as expensive for you because the big casinos in your market will do the first spend.”

“People tend to bounce around and try you out. Database comes into play and you’ve got to get players into your direct mail and invite them back. The first dollars spent are not even from your casino,” Bauer stated.

Godin pointed out that you may be one of the smaller casinos in your competitive zone, but you may be one of the larger businesses in your area. “Where we’re at, we’re one of the largest businesses in our local market. And at the same time, we’re also one of the smallest casinos in the region. There are a lot of opportunities to strike up advertising and promotions deals because of our size in the local market.”

Dominant Theme

The dominant theme that came out of the session was the strength of Fast and Furious Judo when used by smaller casinos against their larger competitors. “Use the force of the larger properties against them,” Osiecki said.

“A friend told me that marketing is a contact sport, meaning mid-sized properties can shop the market and know exactly what your large competition is doing. You can take that knowledge and react quickly to counter their promotions or events,” Osiecki stated.


Do you have a Goliath Casino as your competitor? Learn more about Raving’s Raving Competitive Marketing Strategies Program. You can contact Amy Hergenrother at 775-329-7864 or email her at [email protected].

Stay tuned for the second article in this series “Help­, A Giant Casino Is My Competition! How Mid-Sized Tribal Casinos Thrive in a Competitive Atmosphere.”

Tom Osiecki