On March 8th, 2016, our sister site mGamingWatch and Michael Laffey, a 20 year veteran of the gaming business and president of Indigeony , will present an insightful new webinar on the opportunities and obstacles inherent today in casino marketing.
Ahead of the webinar, we caught up with Mr. Laffey — an expert in branding and promotions who has worked for and with some of the biggest names in the casino world — to discuss the forthcoming webinar and the state of casino marketing in early 2016.
According to Laffety, the way that we have been marketing casinos for the last 20 years does not necessarily work in the modern era. Increased competition, aging of core guests, millennial lack of interest, and media fragmentation has forced us to think of new ways to communicate with our guests, he says.
One of the marketing-related topics mGamingWatch covers frequently the casino and gaming arenas is data acquisition. And we wanted to know what grade Michael Laffey would give the industry today for its general ability to procure and capitalize on data for marketing purposes.
“I would give our industry as a whole a C-“, he says, “but some properties out there excel at this, not to mention any names but look who is on the top of the revenue growth and market share lists and you will find brands that are doing it right. We all have millions of dollars into our data base system no matter which vendor we use, but very few properties use these systems to their full capabilities. Sure we all ask for emails and mobile phone numbers at the players club, or offer free play in exchange for joining mobile clubs, but they key is the analysis of this data and acting on your findings is a proactive way. Our Guests are willing to share their data with us if they find value in doing so. With many properties I have visited this year hovering at or well below 50% in carded play it tells me that from the 10,000 foot level that what you are offering to the guests has no value to them.”
Over the last two decades, Michael Laffey has witnessed a lot of changes in how guest engagement is approached. As a result, he has an expert handle on the most effective tactics and strategies used by casinos to bolster guest engagement today.
“Player development departments are becoming very savvy with the use of technology to interact with their guests,” Laffey asserts. “The days of a host plowing through telephone calls to their little black book are behind us. Today we can email, SMS, tweet, comment, post, the list goes on and on and is not shrinking. The properties that I see doing the best with their strategies are the ones that allow their guests to choose the way that they want to be communicated with. Players personalities vary greatly when it comes to communication, some prefer direct mail, some want to be texted, called, or met in person. But what I do know is that no guests wants all of them. So properties that have options are winning in the engagement game. Also I think that moblieStorm has some very interesting capabilities with mobile that go beyond just being able to connect to the current Kiosk system their geo-fencing strategies are going to make engagement very interesting this year.”
Although we’ve seen a massive migration to all things mobile for casino marketing today, not everyone is doing it well.
“The weaknesses that I see is that many directors and agencies are treating mobile as a stand-alone add on to current media and communications strategies,” Laffey tells mGamingWatch. “I think that mobile needs to be part of the overall media plan and treated as an equal to other forms of media, not an afterthought. Now we all know that our traditional media is not nearly as powerful as it once was, and that our competitors like to get in wars with us over dayparts, billboard locations and sponsorship exclusives. If we treat mobile marketing as just another tool in our media mix, pay as much attention to it as we do TV and Outdoor, than we can more effectively drive traffic and revenue at our properties. Oh and traffic that I can directly attribute to the mobile effort with detailed ROI reporting, and actionable collected data. I really cannot do that with a TV ad. I would like to see my team, and my clients make a concerted effort this year to implement mobile and spend as much time on it as we do with traditional media.”
Depending on where you go in this country or anywhere in the world, the difference between one casino and the next in terms of their deployment of modern technologies for marketing and gaming can be pretty drastic. Some are cutting edge, others seem trapped in the 1970s. What is the paramount reason why some casino properties drag their feet for so long to embrace new marketing platforms and strategies that are working so well for others?
“That is a fantastic question,” Laffey says. “New technologies are essential for player development in modern casino marketing. Some casinos find that these new technologies are risky and expensive. Generally many casinos are not up for quick changes. But they all eventually come around when it comes to moving the revenue needle. Many casinos are weary of new technologies because of the investments that they have made in the past that have not worked out. Not everyone embraced player tracking right away, not everyone moved to TITO tickets quickly, or some guest got nervous when we went from reel machines to the state of the art digital graphics that we see today. We saw some things come and go like QR codes. Properties that embrace new technology with ROI in mind and find ways to use technology to drive revenues and stay one step ahead of their competition will be rewarded with market share increases.”
Michael Laffey will delve deeper into these issues and many others during the March 8th webinar, a presentation that Laffey says will explain why mobile marketing is not going away and will only get better as casino marketers “find new and interesting ways to engage guests.”
“The mobile industry will get better at adapting products for use in the casino vertical because we constantly are challenging ourselves to enhance guest experiences,” he concludes. “I want people who attend this webinar to realize that mobile needs as much attention as traditional media. We cannot spend 6 weeks developing a story for TV and have some intern spend 20 minutes putting together mobile content. That will not be effective.”
To learn more about the webinar or to register to attend, click here.