The New VIP Experience

Way to success on the red carpet (Barrier rope)

The challenge for casino operators to accommodate these superfans

There is a growing trend in the concert industry business that is beginning to impact casinos offering concerts. The VIP Experience is an add-on service that numerous Artists have brought on board to enhance the concert experience for their fans and fan clubs, to increase their fan base, and to push their own revenue stream.

Let’s call it an enhanced or elevated fan experience.

And to complicate this even more, this type of add-on is handled directly by the group’s management, an outside company, or you may even find that the Artist’s agency takes on this service. So you have another entity in your mix to manage.

Most casinos offer their own VIPs (players and shareholders) a meet and greet, perhaps some additional swag. This new, elevated fan experience is geared for superfans who are most likely not your VIPs.

So, here’s some challenges for casino resorts:

  • How many prime seats do you need to surrender? How does this impact your overall ticket sales and marketing?
  • How do you manage these separate events so as not to confuse your own VIPs, or cut into your own schedule?
  • What if your own VIPs want the same enhanced experience? What if concert-goers have a poor experience?
  • How can you profit from these VIP experiences?

Here’s an example for a “‘THAT’S MY KIND OF NIGHT’ LUKE BRYAN VIP EXPERIENCE”:

  • One (1) premium reserved ticket in the first (20) rows of the lower bowl or one (1) general admission pit ticket
  • Invitation to ‘Luke’s Lounge’ before the show, featuring: Two song acoustic pre-show performance by Luke Bryan and complimentary snacks and a cash bar
  • One (1) exclusive Luke Bryan VIP merchandise gift
  • One (1) commemorative laminate On-site concert concierge

How do you manage these separate events so as not to confuse your own VIPs, or cut into your own schedule?

Included in almost all of these packages is a meet and greet with the Artist. They will want to do this “Fan Club”/“VIP” meet and greet along with your casino meet and greet (that you’ve negotiated), so keep in mind that this can become a little lengthy and confusing. Sometimes it will require finding a separate room that they can set up in as well. In most of these packages, they will be giving the “fan” some merchandise from the Artist. This merchandise is often shipped in separately. A recent experience I had was that the merchandise never arrived, so the people who had paid extra for all of this got quite upset and pushed blame on the casino.

How many prime seats do you need to surrender? How does this impact your overall ticket sales and marketing?

The packages vary greatly, but the bottom line is that they need to get involved with your ticket sales, and they ask for you to hold your announce and on sale dates, to coordinate with their client’s (Artist’s) fan club pre-date. They ask you to hold a certain number of your prime seating for them to sell and include in their enhanced experience for fans or customers who want more than just a ticket to the show. Depending on your marketing region, the number they ask for can be as many as 50 tickets or more. They do pay for those tickets at your listed cost, as they sell their packages, but often times they want those prime seats held up until very close to the actual show date. Typically, these prime tickets are already being held for your own VIPs and Tribal members, so you see how this can become an issue.

What I am suggesting to our properties that we work with, is that we limit the number of tickets we will hold in our best seating sections. For example, we will hold (10) tickets initially, and then if those are sold, we will open up another (10) tickets. Holding the large number that some of these people request is ridiculous.

How can you profit from these VIP experiences?

As mentioned above, these “resellers” pay retail for these prime tickets, so overall, this does help your ticket sales. One of the big questions floating around is should this be a revenue share situation, like selling Artist merchandise at your concert? This remains to be determined, but initially there is a push back from these companies and Artists regarding any revenue split.

What if your VIPs want the same enhanced experience? What if concert-goers have a poor experience?

You can always offer this to your own VIPs, by directing them to the outside people, or you can cut your own deal with the outside company to buy a certain number of these tickets for your VIPs, giving them that extra special experience. There are a lot of creative options available for you to consider.

With regards to poor experiences, you need to make sure that you manage these outside services’ onsite and online presence. Their actions and way of doing business directly impact your casino image and brand. These outside companies or “add-on” services need to be held accountable. Be very clear about what you will do, how it will be managed, and what your expectations are. Make sure that you have a direct contact person and a paper trail. Get everything in writing and make sure that they understand how your casino does business.

Keep in mind that we are all trying to create good partnerships and successful events. Your customer is also a fan, in most cases. So it is important that your customer is pleased with their experience, since it reflects directly on your casino. This will be an ongoing and developing story. Stay tuned.

Kell Houston
Kell Houston 14 Articles