At one time, heading to the Grande Vegas Casino or any of the other Nevada casinos was a major experience in and of itself. The games, the theatre, the restaurants….all of these attractions added up to a high quality vacation package that attracted millions of casino enthusiasts every year.
Now the casinos have come to the conclusion that they must review their marketing and update the traditional vacation package offers. There are two reasons for this.
Market research shows that many younger millennials are simply not gambling. Playing games for money doesn't appeal to many of these people yet they like to travel, enjoy varied activities and look for vacation packages that offer them excitement and thrills. Now it's up to the casinos to think about how they can make that happen as part of their casino-resorts' promotions.
Since the '90s over half of the revenues from the Las Vegas Strip came from gambling. Now gambling revenues are declining and casinos are exploring new and different ways to bring people to their resorts.
In 2017, only 33% of Las Vegas Strip revenue came from gaming. The other 67% came from growth in hotel, entertainment, food and beverage and nightlife entertainment venues.
The casinos are aware that entertainment, nightclubs, celebrity restaurants, luxury accommodations, and other experiences have shifted the revenue mix away from gambling. This realization is affecting the entire industry.
Gene Lee, the chief analytics officer at Caesars Entertainment, sees this as a data challenge. He divides the issue into two categories: customer and product. He points out that the casino industry – the product -- must continually reinvent the product so that it continues to appeal to a shifting demographic. To reach those customers the casinos need to capitalize on intelligent marketing. The casinos must focus on offering the right incentives to the right customer through the right channel at the right time.
Lee explains that product development requires long-term planning. It takes a long time to experiment to see what works, change a casino, and find out how the changes are being received. Successful customer marketing is the key. “We have to make bets on whether the customer gets a free hotel room, slot credit, golf, food, transportation, sold out tickets, or a room upgrade” says Lee. “We need the marketing offers to be profitable and get the right margin for us.”
Data analytics is the key to carrying these changes off successfully. For the casino, it's important that the offers have a low variable close with high perceived value. Basically, says Lee, free upgrades. The casino has to carefully calculate those give-aways. For instance, at Caesars, the analytics are used to give the casino's marketers better predictive modeling techniques. They need to understand different customer scenarios in order to understand how to leverage the marketing to attract both travelers who are drawn to Vegas because of the marketing as well as travelers who would have taken the trip anyways but weren't set on coming to a specific casino.
Many other casinos are studying Caesars analytic capabilities because Caesars is viewed as the top in the field. Data analytics is new in Vegas and even the biggest casinos aren't finding it easy to consolidate as they go through the slow process of integrating data and technology. Small competitors are struggling to keep up while big casinos are trying to digitalize their data history into a format that will give them the answers that they need.
Caesars is the leader in casino analytics. They have the most extensive analytics capabilities in Vegas and those capabilities are expected to grow as their data gets integrated into the system.
Caesars is using the latest NVIDIA (NVDA) GPU Tesla cards which delivers faster chips and enables faster analytics. The casino is thus able to create real-time analytics as well as AI-driven analysis on live streaming data in seconds. Caesars merges this machine learning with business intelligence to uncover insights that are too time-consuming, too complex or too inaccessible for humans to explore without the technological back-up. This is done with Kinetica, a data analysis tool that, says, Lee, will deliver advanced analytics.
According to Lee “Our business is detecting needles in a haystack. Most people ignore outliers, but to us, that’s a million-dollar customer. A fast database can help with discovery analytics and fly through large amounts of data really quickly, to find the outliers that translate into big opportunities for us.”
Based on their research Caesars offers packages that they believe will draw in new players, help them retain their older valued customers and attract vacationers who want to expand their Vegas trip above and beyond the gaming floor.
Some of their recent promotional materials include offers for:
- Multi-night stays in luxury hotel accommodations.
- Transportation to and from the airport.
- Meals served en-suite along with extra meals for guests.
- Meals at Vegas fine dining eateries.
- Spa treatments.
- Special service at local night clubs .
- Shopping amenities including store credit and services of a personal shoppers.
As one casino's Director of Slots explained "To have the power to reasonably forecast future results and do those ‘what if’ scenarios convenience lets us make decisions about the timing and nature of machine replacements so as to achieve the most desirable business outcomes.”