Think outside of the box to drive more play and brand your property
Tribal casinos have forever changed the gaming and entertainment experience for everyone, and are now the focal point in communities across the country for entertainment. Casinos are the go-to destination for adults looking to get out of the house and do something fun.
In a recent workshop I conducted at the Raving NEXT: Indian Gaming Analytics and Marketing Conference, marketing folks from across the country – especially from smaller venues, were asking, “How do we differentiate?” and “How do we make a positive impact on our gaming revenue?”
Let’s start at the beginning
When Tribal gaming really took off, they opened the doors to every nationally recognized musical act. Most of the older acts, from the ‘50s – ‘70s, had careers that had run their course. A lot of them had limited success and had run out of places to perform regularly. Of course, the super groups still had sustained careers, but the rest kind of faded away. Then boom – Tribal casinos came along. Every artist who had limited successful careers were now in demand again to perform. Artists regrouped, immediately enjoyed success again and careers were rebooted.
Initially, most more recognizable artists tended to stay away from casinos. That was where groups “went to die.” But over the past decade, as the population aged, those same groups came to depend on casinos for their financial well-being. Today, the biggest groups in the world have discovered that they can do a short residency in places like Las Vegas and invite their fans to come see them, instead of the grueling road experience of touring.
A supply and demand situation
Those artists from the ‘50s – ‘70s are aging out. Their loyal fans are also aging out and don’t really go out much. The interesting thing is that the older acts typically had much larger catalogs of songs and hits. Today’s artists tend to have smaller catalogs. For instance, the lower to medium level artists from the ‘80s – ‘90s really don’t have enough recognizable hits to sustain a show on their own. So, you are seeing packages of these acts touring. These packages are great because your guest gets to see several artists doing their two to three big hits in a show. However, now you are dealing with a lot more issues and variables in producing the show at your property.
Differentiate your casino with these entertainment options
The door is opening for a wide variety of entertainment options now. TV and YouTube have introduced us to hundreds of options for casino properties. Your guest has pretty much seen most of the artists you have traditionally brought to your property. They want new, they want different. It’s important today to stay ahead of the curve.
We are finding success, as examples, with the following entertainment ideas: Cesar Milan (the Dog Whisperer), Criss Angel (magician/illusionist), Tyler Henry (Hollywood Medium), Theresa Caputo (Long Island Medium), Native Ink (tattoo festival with bands), Rob Lowe (actor/speaker), Fran Drescher (actor/comedian), Chevy Chase (actor), Celebrity Housewives (NewYork, Hollywood and Dallas), Neil DeGrasse Tyson (astrophysicist), game shows (several options) and eSports.
In addition to some of the above options, today you are having to invite and hold the attention of a younger demographic on your property. So, for example, country music allows you access to their up and coming stars, these artists are affordable and when you bring your local radio people in, you can blow up the promotion and get a lot of radio support. A “Catch a Rising Star” approach.
What you are trying to create is a unique entertainment experience for your guest. Why just look at the narrow band of musical acts when there is a whole world of entertainment options?
Strategically thinking about entertainment: It’s not one and done
I mentioned above that smaller properties were interested in maximizing their entertainment program, leading to driving more revenue.
A couple of thoughts here. First, when you have a small showroom, consider doing multiple events; two shows a night. One can be open to the public and the other can be just for your VIPs.
Second, when you step out of the mindset that an event is one and done, or that entertainment is just “music,” you will start to blur the lines between events and promotions. That’s when you really have the opportunity to extend a guest’s time on-property.
For example, I’ve worked with Jaci Marx, Senior Director of Marketing over at Isleta Resort & Casino; she’s a true marketer and knows how to pull out all the stops to maximize her events. She did a game show event, I believe it was The Price is Right Live, that she turned into a month-long promotion. The gist of it is that players would come in all month to spin a wheel for their chance to play the big game. When the day arrived, she used all of her marketing acumen to get folks to stay – random drawings for prizes, more opportunities for chances to play, she kept the energy going; it was truly an event not to miss. People were so excited for the chance to play the “big game,” they hung out all day.
Also, I’ve seen players and guests spend more time on the property when there are organized events around the “traditional” concert. For example, the afternoon prior to an evening concert, take advantage of meet and greets, autographs, Q&A with the artists and setting up a step and repeat for photos. After the concert, have a drawing for autographed guitars, drumsticks or drum heads. The point is to extend the event and get your players back on your floor.
I encourage all Tribal casinos to look past the usual rock, country and R&B options. Of course, they have their place. But the occasional unique experience for your guest will have them talking about you, and will buy you more visibility than anything else you do.