Nobody wants to be a Sucker
Gambling is a fantastic thing. Think about it from a pure business perspective; people know the odds are against them. People know they are going to lose. They enjoy it. It is fun, recreational and people love games of chance. Most people intellectually understand that the house will win in the long run. They also have come to terms that casinos offer a less advantageous gambling situation, especially for low-rollers, than even a few years ago. Video Poker paytables have been decimated at low denominations. Blackjack tends to be the 6/5 variety at low table minimums. Most slot machines have an outrageously high house edge. Table game side bets are all the rage and provide the house a big advantage. But, people still play and enjoy playing.
Why charge loyal casino customers more fees?
Casinos should be thrilled that players have adjusted to these devaluations with regard to the actual games. Players are accepting of the fact that recreational gambling is not going to yield a “win” in the long term. So, why mess with the casino loyalty programs? Why charge loyal casino customers more fees? The casinos should be thrilled that the players are still interested in playing.
Embrace ALL Gamblers, and it is just that simple
If someone gambles at a casino property, they are a customer. It is just that simple. For most businesses acquiring a customer is very expensive and challenging, but keeping that customer is less complicated and less costly.
If someone takes the time to join a Vegas Casino loyalty program and allows their casino play to be tracked they are interested in that property and their casino loyalty program. Vegas is all about choice. The Vegas casino properties tend to look at things from a very narrow viewpoint. They know there are fewer independent hotels and loyalty programs than there were just a few years ago. The belief is that there is a captive audience. Except, that is not really the case. Sure, Vegas casinos might have a captive audience when casino customers are in Vegas since there are fewer (good) options. But that audience can choose to NOT travel to Vegas. If customers do not return to Vegas, is that not the worst result of devaluations?
Recreational Gamblers – More Options Than Ever
Recreational gamblers in the USA now have more options than ever. Almost everyone is within a 2-hour drive of a local casino. Vegas casinos should be doing more to attract gamblers, not less. Without incentives, it becomes harder and harder for low-rollers to justify a trip to Vegas. Remember, if you are a gambler any money you spend outside of gambling (fees, meals, drinks, shows, parking) has the potential to impact your gambling bankroll. Gamblers will vote with their wallets, not because they dislike Vegas, but because they prefer to have more cash for gambling.
More on TravelZork: Casino Loyalty, Casino Gaming and Gambling
Fix Resort Fees
The travel industry is full of fees. Ancillary revenue in the airline industry is a huge source of income. I like this definition of ancillary revenue from IdeaWorksCompany.com LLC. “Revenue beyond the sale of tickets that is generated by direct sales to passengers, or indirectly as a part of the travel experience.” The situation with hotels has been trickier. The hotel industry overall is much more fragmented. There are just more options when it comes to your lodging in comparison to airlines.
In most cases, Vegas resort fees are here to stay. They allow prices of hotels in Las Vegas to appear less expensive on search engines. Hotels do not have to share the resort fees with online travel agents (OTA). It would be unrealistic to expect these fees just to go away, unless there was some intervention by a government agency.
Fewer Fees – More Cash for Gambling
But, let’s return to our concept of gamblers and their bankroll — especially low-roller gamblers who are visiting Las Vegas on a budget.
If a Vegas Casino is bringing a gambler to their property based on casino play keep them at the property. Use resort fees as a differentiator of casino/gambler guests in comparison to non-gamblers and convention/business guests.
- If a guest has a comp room from a casino loyalty program also comp the resort fee. Focus on the fact that the room is actually 100% free and that you want them to enjoy your property and gamble with their vacation dollars.
- Make it easier for casino loyalty program guests to get waived resort fees on discounted rooms when they do not qualify for a comp room. As long as a casino loyalty member is above the entry tier (for example Platinum for Total Rewards or Pearl with Mlife) waive resort fees.
- If someone is paying a resort fee and a member of the casino loyalty program make it easy for the resort fee to be removed. It is easy enough to tie the tier earning or spend (or both) of a trip to the removal of a resort fee. Encourage people to spend their money enjoying a recreational gambling experience and spending money at your property. People have a multitude of choices in Vegas. If guests gamble (and spend money) at your property reward them with the removal of the resort fee.
- Parking should be free for a hotel guest of a Vegas Casino Property. Do not look to make money off of your hotel guests on parking, especially those hotel guests that are visiting on a comp or discounted room offer. Encourage guests to visit your affiliated properties, make sure they know that they will also receive free parking at any affiliated properties.
Related: Vegas Fees Gone Wild | MEGARESORT™©® NEEDS MORE MONEY!
Give Incentives to Guests to Stay On Property
Vegas is all about options. As a low roller gambler, you need the incentive to spend more time at your host property. Once a customer leaves your property for any reason, there is a good chance they might also spend their gambling dollars somewhere else. Everyone wants a deal and everyone wants to feel valued.
If a customer is visiting on a casino marketing offer (either comp or a discounted rate) also offer seamless discounts for food, spa, beverage, room service, and entertainment. Why not? If you give someone 50% off for breakfast, they will probably have breakfast at your property. It’s convenient, they feel valued, it just makes sense. Also, they might just decide to have a craps session after breakfast at your property.
Show customers that the more they spend (and gamble) the more discounts they will receive. Drive ancillary revenue in real time. If a customer just spent 5 hours playing blackjack offer that customer 75% off a meal as a thank you for their play. A surprise and delight discretionary coupon that has no impact on their earned comp dollars.
Everyone wants a Suite Upgrade
Hotels in Vegas are huge. Big hotels often mean more room categories and many more suites than your average hotel. Everyone wants to feel like a VIP and likes the option to splurge on a hotel room upgrade. Not everyone can qualify for a suite or room upgrade by a casino host. Offer discounted upgrades to casino customers who are part of your loyalty program. Offer the best upgrade prices to your Vegas Casino loyalty program customers. Allow guests to secure and confirm these upgrades in advance using your mobile app.
Gamble on Upgrades
Let people gamble on more things than just the casino games. Challenge customers to gamble more at a property and reward them with defined challenges. Be clear and transparent about the upgrade prices and show benefits for being a casino loyalty club member. As an example: “You can upgrade to a suite for $100/night, but since you are Platinum, you get $25 off all suite upgrade offers. Your upgrade will cost $75/night but if you earn at least 1500 tier points during your stay, the suite upgrade will be comped.”
Use Technology to Deliver Benefits
All benefits should be clear and available on mobile technology. Allow guests to check in via mobile and choose their rooms or upgrade options. If you are offering guests discounts make sure those discounts are via mobile and all coupons can easily be “dropped” into Google or Apple Wallets. Everything should be seamlessly integrated into the Vegas Casino loyalty program’s mobile ecosystem.
Surprise and delight based on customer actions. Acknowledge casino customers while they are on the property. If they are gambling more or spending more on property, give guests additional discounts and incentives. Everyone likes to be acknowledged “on the spot,” there is no reason technology cannot provide this much appreciated instant gratification.
It’s almost 2019, I do believe that Vegas Casino Loyalty is broken, but there is no reason it can not be fixed. Further, these fixes can actually make a visit to Vegas more rewarding. Shouldn’t that be what casino loyalty programs are striving for? Shouldn’t casino loyalty programs be making gamblers more loyal? Hopefully, someone is listening.