The Battle for the Casino Customer

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Julia Carcamo
Julia Carcamo



casino-direct-mailHigh-end customers are the most important focus of casino marketers. True or False?

It's easy to think that given all the romantic images we see in movies and television. Good casino marketers understand where their bread and butter come from. Great casino marketers know how to divide up the business into manageable segments that help the business grow.

As always, I have to disclaim my statements as being general and applicable to regional operators versus the marquee destinations of Las Vegas and Atlantic City who typically have a larger variety of amenities and offerings. That being said...

"High rollers" (a term that makes me shudder) do not make up the largest portion of the casino’s profit. In fact, they typically make up a relatively small portion. Relationship marketing is a big piece of the high-end business. This is more related to one-on-one contact than it is about creative and advertising. The key to these relationships are the casino hosts and their network of contacts. I've known casino hosts who have had long-standing relationships with some of the people on their "list" — relationships that span years, sharing births, holidays, vacations, and (unfortunately) deaths.

The fact is that the battle for the most profitable casino customers is usually won or lost in the mailbox. My company probably mails about three million pieces of mail every single month. As the person in charge of brand marketing and the supporting creative, I know this is where the rubber hits the road. This is where that true partnership between a casino and an ad agency comes into glorious play. Casinos understand the science of what is motivating the customer in terms of their reinvestment strategy. The agency creates something that stands out in a pile of mail to be opened by the customer.

So, what does the agency do to become an even more valuable partner? Learn.

Agencies need to understand the science of the offers sent to casino customers so that they can then make the mail more attractive with their great creative. Understand the segmentation being used. Understand the tools and motivators for each segment. Understand the reinvestment mindset and how the players club program (I still question if it's driving true loyalty, but more on that some other day) comes into play. Then use all of that insight to develop the creative that will make people open the mail.

Direct mail: part science...part mystery if you take some time to understand it.

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