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desired. The same concept was used for gaming customers, but refined to include a knowledge of personal preferences, gambling patterns and coordination of casino special events. CRM is, however, more than a simple mar-

keting campaign. It is a company-wide strategy that involves all employees and executives, and requires a “buy-in” at all levels. The three ele- ments of CRM— people, process and technolo- gy—are designed to create an image of a casino that is delivered the moment the customer arrives at a property, and continues until he returns home, and even later, with the use of social networking technology. The method requires a deep database, with

as much information as the casino can obtain from the customer. This will provide executives with a complete profile of players that allows them to target the profitable and potentially profitable players at special times of the year, unique promotions and/or a personal appeal that uses the depth of knowledge. Database builders and analytics have thus

become crucial elements of marketing in the 2000s, with the social networking tools— Facebook,Twitter,MySpace and others—bringing a wealth of information to the casino’s database. Direct mail—that touchstone of the

1990s—has lost some of its glitter in the face of immediate contact with players and customers via email, instant messaging, SMS and other social networking tools that bring the gaming experience to the player on a daily basis. Players can now receive coupons, special offers and even personal information on their mobile phones or computers at any time of the day or night, keep- ing the casino front-of-mind.

The Invisible Customer Ten years ago, casino operators used things like restaurants, rooms, spas and entertainment as amenities that would drive the customer to the casino floor, where the “house edge”would kick in and the casinos would make their money.Yes, there was a small revenue stream coming out of the non-gaming amenities, but it was barely enough to get noticed, particularly when stacked up against the huge gross gaming revenues. But then came the celebrity chefs, the “must-see” long-running Las Vegas shows, the

super spas and finally, the nightclubs where bot- tle service became a huge profit center for casi- no resorts.Non-gaming amenities have become, at least on the Las Vegas Strip, as much of a rev- enue stream as the casino today. And in casinos around the world, non-gaming revenue has become an important player and the one place where casino operators have a good chance to grow their bottom line. On the Strip today, some casino resorts earn

more from their non-gaming side than from the casino. No longer is betting a requirement for a Strip casino to earn money from visitors.While the gambler is still king, casinos have begun to recognize customers who don’t gamble but enjoy the other amenities, thereby contributing to the resort’s revenue stream. Just recently, however, have casino resorts developed methods to track those customers who aren’t players by issuing them players club cards that are then rec- ognized in all the non-gaming areas of the hotel. From rooms to restaurants, spas to pools, cus- tomers can now get the same kind of credit for buying products and services that the gambler does for playing slots or tables. Ancillary no more, non-gaming activity

is now tracked by the American Gaming Association’s State of the States survey every year. In the 2010 version of the study, a full three-quar- ters of respondents said they ate in a fine dining restaurant while at a casino facility and 60 per- cent said they saw a show or other entertainment.

Marketing Savvy Less than two years ago, a new phenomenon changed the way casinos think about marketing: social networking. This online content is created by people who

have access to the web 24/7 and brings opportu- nities to the casino industry only imagined in the past. The “instant gratification” previously craved by casino executives is here, and now. Websites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube give the casinos an opportunity to become part of the lives of their customers, creating daily contacts that constantly remind them of the experience offered by gaming. The exciting aspect about social networking

is that the most important demographic for casinos—the 35- to 49-year-olds—is the fastest- growing segment on Facebook, according to the

Neilson Company. But what does this mean for the casino business? The scary thing is that con- sumers now have as strong a voice as the casinos. Their “tweets” can often have as much impact as the casino’s tweet, or more. But never before have there been so many

direct channels to communicate with your cus- tomers. Loyalty programs bring a new dimen- sion when combined with the instant contact afforded by the social networking functions. Casinos now have the ability to expand on the relationships that they have with their existing and prospective customers. And when you add the SMS functions of the

current “smart phones,” the sky is the limit. Already, casinos can push coupons to customers who can arrive at the casino that day or in a given time period to redeem them, bringing the customer directly to the gaming floor.Whether it’s free food or inexpensive rooms or discount show tickets, casinos can craft their marketing plans day by day instead of month by month. While the method used is important and the

content of the message posted is significant, it’s all part of the general internet noise unless it goes “viral”—it’s spread by hundreds, thousands or even millions of people via email, shared sites or other means, informing their friends about your products or services. Yes, this is difficult to accomplish, but it’s pure gold when it occurs. What other marketing medium allows casinos to score points with their customers or potential customers even before they arrive?

The Tech Age At first blush, 10 years of technological advance wouldn’t be expected to completely change an industry. The commercial casino industry, after all, is more than 75 years old, and for the vast majority of that time, the industry’s prevalent technology remained essentially the same. Many will argue that this all changed in the

early 1980s with the first digital slot machines, and they would be correct—the “virtual reel” system of choosing results on a slot machine enabled large jackpots and catapulted slot machines to the forefront of the casino. It was the completion of an evolution of the slot that began in 1964 with the first Bally electro- mechanical slot machines, and which continued through the 1970s with the introduction of dol-

• Ticket-in, ticket-out (TITO) makes a big splash

• First discussion of intellectual property in gaming industry

• Internet gambling makes first appearance at industry trade show

• Racinos make first appearance at G2E • CRM concept first considered for casinos

• Digital cameras and recorders transform surveillance departments

• The impact of smoking bans on casinos is analyzed for the first time, leading to the introduction of new ventilation technologies

• The Gaming Standards Association introduces slot protocols

• “Downloadable”games first mentioned at G2E

• Animation and sound revealed as the new horizon in slot machines

G2E Preview 2010 | 53

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