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What we’ve learned from our industry and guests

How is your reopening plan coming together? If you are finding it a challenge on many levels, you’re not alone. Many casino executives and marketing teams feel that they are being thrust into the position of making decisions regarding infectious disease, health and safety. Some would say that falls slightly out of the area of their expertise. Nonetheless, we are left to develop guidelines and opening plans in a way that positions your property as a safe option for entertainment in your market.

Over the last month, we have conducted a weekly call with clients and friends in the industry to discuss what everyone is seeing, hearing, and thinking about the best ways to move forward under such challenging circumstances. In order to assist them further, we’ve also conducted surveys of their guests to help capture their opinions on a number of the reopening factors. The open dialogue has provided valuable insights that may be of consideration in your reopening plans.

WHEN TO REOPEN?

Listen to local and state government to guide you. This is different in every market but many of the properties we’ve spoken to are planning on abiding by their state and local government guidelines.

Communicate with other properties in your market where possible to develop a consensus. Opening at the same time can help present a united front from the local industry as well as combat any negative pushback from being thrust towards one individual property.

Consider local hospitalization levels. If there is a burden on the local health care system, you want to avoid any perception that the property is contributing to it.

Be prepared to adjust your plan. Based on the status of the virus in your area, it’s important to be prepared to expand or retract operations if flare ups occur. This may include limiting operations or even closing again temporarily.

HOW TO COMMUNICATE YOUR OPENING?

Any opening plan should include a communication aspect for both internal and external targets. This should begin with team members, so that they are prepared to communicate with your guests. Think through the Who, What, Where, When and How of what you are doing. It may sound simple, but we often overlook some of the simple things when we focus on such major tasks.

Who? Whether its team members, guests or the community, who is the target of the information you are sharing?

What? What amenities and offerings will be available?

Where? Where can team members and guests gain access? (For example, are there special entrances available or where will they need to line up if there are queues?)

When? What are the dates and times of availability? When will they start? Will there be a daily closure?

How? How will your property be handling health and safety precautions, cleaning and sanitizing?

Target your guests first. Direct marketing via email and snail mail are obvious ways to get your message out to your target audience. BUT, don’t forget digital marketing tactics that can reach your guests specifically like IP targeting. As reopening may be a touchy subject in the community, targeting your players first before a broader campaign may help soften the message.

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE CHALLENGES THAT YOU MAY NEED TO CONSIDER WITH REOPENING?

Operations may look a little different compared to before the closures. The fact is, for a period of time, they probably will differ to accommodate for social distancing guidelines. Changes will touch most areas of the operation. Many have become more common topics like the slot floor running with limited capacity (every other machine locked or some on/off arrangement) and restaurants cutting capacity. Here are a couple more that may or may not have hit your radar.

Table games may not just be limited, some properties may not open them at all. Cleaning and sanitizing cards, shoes, shufflers and chips raise a unique challenge to operators. Smaller properties that don’t have the ability to keep up with a safety protocol process may even consider reopening without table games. Properties that are planning to open table games are considering cutting games where players touch the cards like double deck pitch blackjack games. Limits on games may also see a higher floor due to the drop in gaming positions available. The decrease in players per table will increase the decisions per hour and the burn rate for player’s bankroll that are used to playing on more crowded tables.

Allowing PPE has also been an area of concern. Masks are recommended in some markets which goes against everything we have ever known about surveillance and compliance. Addressing this with your gaming office so you have a game plan prior to opening is absolutely necessary. Some properties are considering just a quick stop at a safe distance upon entry where patrons can remove their mask momentarily so their identity is captured upon entry.

Utilizing technology. Properties considering temperature taking upon entry can also look at technology solutions like fever detection cameras. This is technology that is already implemented at airports in many areas around the world. Another newer process for cleaning mass surfaces is fogging technology. Especially for properties that are planning on a daily closure to clean, utilizing fogging technology to deploy bacteria and virus killing solutions can offer a more efficient process to cleaning larger areas as compared to hand wiping.

Employee Safety Guidelines are also an important factor. While local and state guidelines may not be available yet, OSHA has put out material that may help clarify some best practices for your teams. https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/covid-19/

YOU AREN’T ALONE!

While there are so many more details to consider regarding your opening, one thing is sure … you are not alone. Communicating with your peers and vendors that have contacts across the industry can be an enormous resource for your planning. Additionally, if you would like to hear what your players are thinking, we have a survey built that can deploy quickly and have results within a couple of days.

Just because we may be separated doesn’t mean we are alone. Lean on those that you know and if you can’t find answers, reach out and we’ll see if we can find them together.

Mark Astone

Mark Astone