New casino means new opportunity

May 15, 2006 1:05 AM

I don’t know what Century Casinos and Tollgate Venture’s cooperative gaming operation in Central City is going to be, but what an awesome opportunity to start from the ground-up. A new casino facility provides an occasion to forge a distinct position with novel marketing.

The proverbial tabula rasa exists. Let’s hope Century Casinos, via its international gaming experience and proven regional know-how, fully exploits this opportunity.

When I read various casino oriented players’ magazines, newsletters, and web sites, I am consistently disappointed by the evidence of a lack of innovation by casino marketing departments.

If a new casino or an established property that is repositioning itself to a different market is going to succeed over the long term, a fundamental difference in marketing philosophy and technique (and not like the mass conforming by not conforming Dr. Pepper kind) is needed.

It is imperative that marketing managers re-evaluate any adapted (i.e., copied from a prior employer or competing casino) program not only on the promotion’s inherent marketable value, but also on its applicability and appropriateness to its newly proposed host property.

To achieve a fresh examination of not only traditional measurements such as ROI, ROE, ROS, RoomPar, RevPar, ShowPar, and FSM, but also continuity with the spirit or "vibe" of a property, traditional archetypes of market segmentation and group delineations may need to be tossed out the proverbial window.

Just as a Nielson study might demonstrate an unnerving number of 20-somethings who enjoy Matlock not on an ironic level, and just as surely as there are a few silver foxes basking in the rhinestone glow of hipsterism as reflected-on-high by Carson Daly and Ryan Seacrest, the tangoing casino guests’ and property ethos needs to be analyzed and understood.

For example, nearly every casino has a 50+ club of some variety. Typically, this segment’s naming rights are deemed worthy of some clever word play referencing the theme of the property and/or the target groups’ elder status.

The new Hard Rock Biloxi’s could have been known as "Golden Oldies," and Hooters Casino Las Vegas might have gone the way of the self-deprecating entendre with "Support Foundation."

The more interesting and differentiating variable approach for either property would be to address the key growth market for incremental revenue and provide an under-40 club, a niche grouping that appeals to the target youthful audience.

This club, established for people who can sing along to The Who’s "My Generation" lyrics of "Hope I die before I get old" without being self-conscience. The young bucks might be branded "The Live Fast, Die Young, Leave a Good Looking Corpse Krew" in Biloxi, or "Never Known a Girdle" for Hooters.

Tag lines could accentuate the positive (using imagery of a mock-family-friendly restaurant) such as "You’re big enough to order off the adult menu" or a ribbing like, "Why should the kids and the geezers get all the breaks?" The campaign and collateral nearly create themselves.

Not all casino players in Colorado and elsewhere are kind old grandmothers like the "Frugal Gambler," Jean —The Queen of Comps — Scott (whose real name I know, but will not reveal) or diehard slot jockeys like the dynamic duo of Jeffrey Compton and Bob Dancer (also an alias.)

Or even the diabetic primary consumer of Quaker oatmeal, Wilfred Bramley.

No, there are players who might not be, to borrow a term from Brittney and her older, more haggard looking "sister" Madonna, "In the Zone" quite yet, but when these players that make the pie o’ gamblers larger (i.e., total market size) see something that is authentic, genuinely innovative and truly directed toward them, they will know and respond with loyalty in kind.