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.

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