Casinos meet unique challenges

Jan 9, 2006 3:11 AM

Colorado casinos face unique challenges with their marketing efforts. A few key issues include the inclement weather that seasonally affects accessibility, limited stakes regulations placing a cap on wager amounts, constricted supply of parking spaces, stringent historical preservation based planning codes, and until recently with the development of the Central City Expressway, steep, long and winding access roads.

The Denver and Colorado Spring markets, serviced by the twin cities of Central City/Black Hawk and Cripple Creek respectively, host a gaming populace that has grown to see regional gambling as an alternative to visiting traditional destinations such as Las Vegas and has developed loyalties. Authentic bonds have been cemented between Colorado customers and "their" casinos.

Since limited stakes gaming came to fruition in 1991, the towns of Cripple Creek, Black Hawk, and Central City have had, to borrow the phrase from Business 101, major paradigm shifts. No longer were these municipalities elegantly faded ghost towns bolstered by historical tourism. These tiny towns, starting with nearly authentic Old West gaming parlors, evolved into full fledged gaming centers with larger and more efficient (in terms of economy of scope and scale) casino properties.

Since all casinos, truly tiny to luxuriously large, promote by giving away cash prizes, point multipliers, subsidized meals, and more chotzkes than one could swing a Franklin Mint "authentic" limited edition, guaranteed to go up in value as a collector’s item”¦an instant family heirloom, classically constructed stick at, what makes some of the casinos stand out? What, in terms of marketing or positioning, makes the "winner" casinos unique?

A few of the casinos have realized that high rollers not only want, but demand recognition and reward via exclusive perks. Consequently, patrons will find progressively tiered loyalty clubs and even high roller private lounges that are stocked with top shelf liquors and offer complimentary chair massages after 5 p.m.

To emulate the boon of club life in Las Vegas and Atlantic City, one property offers a "singles" night and an oxygen bar. To avoid the dollar per minute charge for "flavored" oxygen, some of the "more seasoned" and industrious guests bring along their own stash of oxygen.

Lastly, to capitalize on the poker phenomenon, casinos are providing satellite game opportunities in which the winner is provided full boat (including buy-in) trip arrangements to a major series.

With the increasing sophistication of the Colorado market, more advanced and regionally appropriate marketing techniques are inevitable. The properties that choose to strategically market will leverage the elements of their player loyalty clubs with greater precision and will undoubtedly partake in some innovative cross branding and marketing. There is a bright future for the Colorado properties that truly learn the lessons provided by the unique market and continue to innovate.