Social Gaming and Casino Player Development

Log into your Facebook account, if you would.  We’ll wait.  Okay.  Thanks.  Now, click on the words “Games Feed” in the Apps menu on the left side of the page.  It’s probably next to one of the first items displayed in your News Feed.  Got it?  Great!

What you see there (and will see in your News Feed if you haven’t blocked them) are updates from your friends who play social games online.  If you look in the Apps menu, you can find literally hundreds of games and see which of your friends are playing them.  You can, if you wish, join your friends (Facebook encourages you to do so!) and play “together.”  You can spend real money (but you can’t cash it out), exchange gifts with other players, receive gifts and rewards for playing the game(s), and have a great deal of fun.  For those of you who can’t play the slots at work, you can play slots or blackjack online with your friends.

Sound familiar?  If you are reading this blog, it certainly should sound like a familiar world to you.  It’s filled with people who find enjoyment in gaming (of some sort) playing together (in a manner of speaking) for relaxation.  It’s the same kind of activity your casino provides.  And they are people with lots of similarities to the ones your host team takes care of and nurtures relationships with.

Even if you don’t participate in social gaming yourself, you can look at your own Facebook Games Feed and see that lots of people are playing lots of games.  People you know.  In a surprise twist, I found friends online who played casino games who I never imagined in a casino in all my years.

Since the casino patron pool is aging, it is important to continue driving trial visits from new patrons.  Getting those new patrons into the rewards program and marketing to them directly is going to be key, particularly in the competitive US gaming markets.  Because so many young gamers are completely comfortable in the online space, it would be beneficial to any casino operator to reach out to those players and build a bridge to induce a trial visit to the property.

How can a bricks and mortar operation appeal to an online gamer?  It ought to be pretty easy, in theory.  But the reality is that a younger casino patron is going to expect something more for making the trip to the casino, as she can get a very similar experience online, at home, in her pajamas if she wants.  Start by finding someone who is completely comfortable in the social gaming arena and ask them to help you come up with a plan to identify and appeal to social gamers in your casino’s marketplace.

To attract the casual social gamer, casinos should provide value.  Once you’ve identified them, here are some things you can do to get them to visit your property.

  •  When purchasing entertainment, be sure to include “acquisition” acts that appeal to a younger audience.  Price the tickets to accommodate an audience who may not have as much disposable income as any of us would like.
  • Offer a variety of really good food options and price them in alignment with (or lower than) comparable restaurants in your area.
  • Train ALL of your employees to acknowledge new faces and encourage new visitors to join the players club so you can market to as many people as possible.
  • Make sure your gaming associates understand how to communicate with a variety of players and that they provide a positive experience.
  • Create the right environment for the guests you have at any given time.  Adjust lighting, music, and even staff to accommodate the customers you have.  For example, on Friday morning, oldies or doo wop makes sense, but on Friday night, you’ll want music from the ’80’s or ’90’s since there’s likely to be a younger crowd on the gaming floor.

Then, once you get them into the database, make sure you are mining regularly to identify those who have just joined the club so you can begin marketing to them right away.  Have hosts call those with the highest worth to make an offer even before your mail reaches them.  Ensure that new member offers are personalized and appeal to the recipient based on gaming preference, market,  and gender.

Social gamers are just casino patrons who don’t know it yet.  It’s your job to give them a reason to come to your casino instead of a competitor’s.  Find someone who can help you navigate this new territory and invite those players to see what you have to offer.

Getting With the Program

Host goals should be in alignment with the property’s overall marketing direction. Hosts should have an understanding of the profitability of their players, and their authority to supercede or supplement a player’s existing offers should be dependent upon their understanding of the total reinvestment in that guest.

It sounds like common sense, right? How often, though, do the “traditional” marketers and the Player Development team join forces to ensure that their goals and objectives are in alignment? When it’s time to establish or update the host team’s goals, it’s also time to communicate with marketing team leaders to determine whether what seems obvious is in fact still the right direction for the hosts. As you review your results each goal period and launch the next, it is a good time to look back at the team’s benchmarks, assess the goals and objectives of both the team and the property, them determine whether any adjustments are needed for the next couple of quarters.

If your host team is killing it, and they are surpassing their goals pretty readily (bless them!), then it may be time to up the ante, so to speak. Do some database mining and find the players who aren’t visiting as often or playing as much as they should, decide how much revenue is left on the table, then set new theo targets. Or, if you aren’t doing it already, round-robin assign new members of worth and include the anticipated play and trips in your hosts’ next set of goals.

If your host team is struggling to achieve the targets they’ve been given, perhaps a realignment with marketing is overdue and would be beneficial for everyone.  Take a look at how the hosts are spending their time, evaluate their player lists and see if there are some players who need to be replaced with those of higher worth and lower frequency, and let marketing handle the maintenance for a quarter while the hosts drive some revenue and taste success again.

Honestly, there is never a bad time to step back and take a higher-level look at your Player Development team’s contribution to the overarching marketing program. It also seems there is never enough time, either.   Make a list of your questions, get them answered, and set aside some time to make sense of what you learn.  stablish your processes for measurement and follow-up before making changes to the host program, set the new targets, communicate them to the team, and you’re good to go.  You don’t have to wait until the end of the goal period to get started.

In fact, there are several consultants and technology companies who can provide you an objective view of your operation. FInding the right partner to validate what you believe to be true, point out things you might not have known, and hand you a list of low-hanging fruit may be just what you need to refine your efforts and set the team up for success. Harvest Trends offers both the technological assistance and consultant’s view to benefit our partners to the fullest. Want to know more? Visit our website at www.harvesttrends.com, call us at 877-277-5661, or sign up for our newsletter to learn how we can help you.