Survey results troubling for Vegas casinos

Feb 3, 2009 5:09 PM
by David Stratton |

Over the past few months, Las Vegas casinos have had to deal with fewer guests and declining revenues, but now, according to the results of a new survey, they have to deal with shrinking customer satisfaction.

That doesn’t bode well for a town and industry that depends on quality customer service.

According to the Vega$AT Index Survey conducted by Clear Seas Research in conjunction with Consumer Opinion Services of Las Vegas, visitors rated their satisfaction level as mediocre at best, while foreign visitors to Las Vegas were actually less satisfied than their domestic counterparts.

The survey is based on interviews with 1,000 visitors and was conducted last fall on the Las Vegas Strip. The survey is ongoing with additional interviews currently being conducted.

The results are in line with last year’s Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority’s (LVCVA) Las Vegas Visitor Profile, which revealed visitor satisfaction was at an all-time low.

The 2008 LVCVA survey won’t be released for several weeks.

The Vega$AT Index Survey is unique in that it identifies specific casinos and their satisfaction level compared against each other, while the LVCVA survey doesn’t distinguish among individual properties.

"That’s pretty much our role," said John Thomas, executive director of Clear Seas’ Gaming Insights Practice. "Casinos like to know where they stack up against their competition."

Another trend revealed in the Vega$AT Index Survey is that the percentage of visitors from outside the U.S. is increasing. Unfortunately, foreign visitors spend significantly less of their travel budget in the casino, and more on other activities such as shopping and dining.

Other trends that might not be welcome news for casino managers include:

• Fewer than half the visitors to Las Vegas say they take in a show. That’s a troubling statistic, even though show attendance has slumped in recent years (it was down from 76 percent in 2006 to 63 percent in 2007, according to the LVCVA survey).

• A large proportion of hotel guests do their gambling in a different casino. Ouch! Naturally, visitors to the Las Vegas Strip spend a lot of time walking and taking in the sights, but casinos apparently aren’t doing enough to entice their hotel guests to use the on-site amenities.

• When asked why they chose to visit Las Vegas, the majority of respondents said, "for the fun and excitement." That’s the city’s promise, even though other survey results indicate the visitor may not be leaving fully satisfied.

As noted by Clear Seas’ John Thomas, individual casinos like the Vega$At Index Survey for its versatility, especially in rating their competitive advantage (or disadvantage) in the marketplace.

"The Index is useful in that it reveals to casinos how they can maximize revenue from non-gaming activities and how to cross-sell those activities, why hotel guests often gamble at other casinos and what to do about it, and how to reconnect with gamblers who have strayed out of the casino’s target market," Thomas said.

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