Improvement You Can Believe In

Gaming continues to get better as design continually improves

It’s true-the sky is falling. Our political leaders are making sure of it. Wall Street, Madoff and gaming are the poster children for all that’s wrong in the world. The stock market and my 401K are in full retreat. So we must fight back by retreating to our core values (gaming, personalized service and value).  

Gaming started out as a value-oriented experience with 99-cent shrimp cocktails, free drinks and cheap rooms; it’s time to get back to our roots. Six-star hotels, Zen spas and $500 bottles of vodka have gone the way of capitalism and Sarah Palin’s wardrobe.

“If you build it, they will come.” Well, “they” have tightened the purse strings and you need to adjust. Since the government won’t bail us out, we must take a more realistic approach to problem solving. We’re on our own-just like we wanted it. Forget about change (it has no meaning); it’s about improvement. It’s time to show our leaders how to lead.

The casino industry must refine, rethink, refresh and revitalize its amenities. Every space should be evaluated to maximize revenue potential. Remodels or repositioning cost money, but not as much as a stale property that loses its brand, its reputation and its core customers (think Republican Party during the last election).

How do we do it? Well, here are a few tips.

Never give core experiences away for free; people will never pay for them when times return to normal. Instead, add value to those experiences. Stay current and relevant in people’s daily lives. Become an irreplaceable experience. As the only group that can offer them gaming, you’re halfway there.

Gaming. It’s at the core of your success and can lead people to your door. Communal gaming machines, interactive employees and updated interiors all add to the energy that defines a successful gaming visit. It could be the only form of entertainment some people enjoy on a given day, so make it special enough for them to come back. I’m working on a new ad campaign touting the virtues of slot machines over voter machines, and how you have a better chance to win in a casino than on Election Day.
Food & Beverage. People have multiple options-and one of them is staying home. Unique food concepts, refreshed interiors, memorable, personalized service and educational beverage programs can invigorate your offerings. Make sure you’re giving people what they want. If nobody wants sushi, don’t offer it. This is about the customer’s desires, not yours.

Marketing. Reinforce your brand with core customers, and fine-tune your offerings to better focus on their needs. Then introduce your unique form of entertainment to new customers. Pursue them, show them love, spend money on them, and you might be surprised by the results. The Democrats won the election using this theory. We must all broaden our appeal.

Hotel Rooms. With gas prices rising and jobs at risk, traditional extended vacations will be limited for the next few years. This works to our advantage. Casinos within driving distances of major metropolitan areas must create “stay-cation” packages. Don’t limit yourself to the local-market casino; draw from cities far beyond the immediate region by working on your message and offering value-oriented, short-trip packages. Put on your Clintonian thinking cap and reinvent yourself!

It’s your biggest marketing tool. Times are tough, but your front-line interaction with the customer is all-important. If your employees are depressed, make sure they are not transferring that negativity to the customer. Your customer wants to have fun, so make sure your employees are providing it.  It’s similar to the illusion Congress has created all these years.

The answers to our current crisis aren’t in a book they hand out at fancy schools. We have to go into the street and battle every day. There’s a future out there. We’ve got to work harder and be more creative to find it.

History repeats itself. One day the good times will return.

“Don’t follow leaders, and watch your parking meters.”  –Bob Dylan