by Kristian Nygaard
Casino Transportation – How to attract the out-of-towners.
Are you in the unfortunate situation of having a casino placed in a rural or outback area with low population density?
Not to worry…. The possibilities of getting customers outside of your local area are pretty good.
The first thing to consider is where to get them…. Later in the article we will examine the practical aspects of moving your customers from their home area to your casino.
So where could your customers come from? These are some of the areas which to target.
a. Larger metropolitan areas
b. Areas with high-income level
c. Areas with large concentrations of ethnic segments (Chinese, Greek etc.)
Also remember to consider your casino as being part of a complete destination.
A good example of this is Laughlin, Nevada, that although being situated basically in the middle of nowhere, has evolved into a known gambling destination. Being located near Las Vegas, it has managed to develop a distinctive image when compared to the ‘Father’ of all gambling destinations. Situated on the shores of Lake Mead, it has a much more natural feel about itself with open spaces and water surrounding it, than the often claustrophobic areas in downtown Las Vegas.
Worth contemplating are the attractions of your local area (destination). And can they be used in attracting holidaymakers who in turn will use some hours or more at your casino? Or perhaps your area plays host to a major event?
Then why not try to hook up and get some of these visitors into exactly your casino!
Get in contact with any other ‘player’ who has an interest in creating a destination. Very often these include other tourist companies, but also local shops and other businesses. Work out a destination plan that take these matters into consideration.
Who can do what? And what can you do together to attract more visitors to your ‘new’ destination? And who can you attract and how?
Very often a destination will have an infrastructure that is already in place, i.e. a bus route or a municipal airport, perhaps even railroad and ferry lines.
Analyze it from the point of view of your potential clients. After all, a destination can only be working if your customers can easily get to and from.
A destination network can potentially have a strong influence and co-operation with transportation suppliers, which a single tourist company often cannot.
Thus being part of a well-functioning destination has numerous benefits, not least in the way of transportation.
Among the components that can possibly make people travel to (and gamble at) exactly your casino are:
1. Higher odds
4. Special deals
This could especially be useful when attracting seasoned gamblers. Be careful though when using this as revenue very easily could drop. Also higher odds are difficult to discriminate when dealing with different segments.
Events are really good for making the potential customers open their eyes towards your casino.
This indicates that it is mainly useful for attracting new customers.
Major Las Vegas casinos have for years used top-class artists such as Celine Dion, Tom Jones and many others as well as major sporting events, such as heavyweight championship bouts to attract the high rollers.
On a smaller scale this could also prove useful for your casino. Anything from local boxing matches over Country and Western concerts to beauty pageants could create needed publicity in local media about your casino and ultimately attract gamblers.
Be aware though that any event should encourage people to gamble not detain them from that. The best events are the ones that work as a ‘magnet’ and make people enter or perhaps just make them aware of the casino.
First step when planning an event for your casino is:
Determine the trends and fashions within your targeted segment.
What is hot?
African tribal music?
Arrange it and preferably do not let any event last for longer than 2 hours. Remember, it should serve exclusively as a magnet.
And do not schedule it for days, when you know that your casino will be full anyway. Better choose a day where there will be fewer visitors, yet where there is a unfulfilled potential, such as weekend mornings or workday evenings.
Again it is useful to look at your target groups and examine the trends of the time.
One very popular item is spa or any other wellness installation.
These will often be able to attract new clients, sometimes those who are not usually visiting casinos, and will thus be able to create new gains for your casino in the long run.
Free breakfast? Complimentary chips? 2 for 1 prime rib?
These are just some of the special deals that potentially could be used towards attracting new clients to your casino.
Naturally one should always consider the following:
- Are these special deals really going to get me new clients or am I just going to lose money on present clients?
- Am I potentially going to earn more money at the casino than what I am ‘spending’ at i.e. the restaurant?
Now let us have a look at the specific ways in which you transport your customers from their home.
Among the transportation methods available to a casino are:
III. Inclusive tours
Flights have many advantages. It is one of the fastest and most far-reaching methods of transportation.
Airplanes make it possible for your casino to reach out to customers thousands of miles away and to those closer to your casino, it makes it possible for you to offer products such as weekend getaways or even products without overnight stays due to the speed of aviation.
However, airlines are also the most expensive option and the least flexible one in terms of volume. You will often need a minimum of 100 persons at a time in order for this to be economically viable.
And the competition is getting harder these days from the local casinos and it is hard to make a business out of flying your customers to and from the casino, if this was the sole purpose of any given airline.
One of the forerunners in this business, used to be Casino Express, which was based in Elko, Nevada. Catering primarily to a network of local casinos, it flew in customers from around USA to Elko.
Though, in an interview in December 2005, David Zornes, Chief Executive Officer of McClaskey Holdings, admits that the competition from local casinos are getting tougher and tougher.
Thus the airline had it last flights on February 1st this year. From now on McClaskey Holdings, which comprises such Elko establishments as Red Lion, Gold Country and Thunderbird, have decided to target local markets as well as out-of-town customers, who can be transported by bus.
Also when considering aviation one must take into consideration that planes many times can only produce a part of the journey. This due to the fact that airports are often located outside of town, which implicates additional transportation at both the beginning and termination of the flight.
Although not as far-reaching as planes, busses have the advantages of being less expensive and more flexible than airplanes as well as being more able to make the entire journey from start-destination to end-destination.
Among the major casinos, probably none has as good a transportation system as Foxwoods. Although the casino in itself is situated basically in the middle of nowhere (in the forest of Connecticut), then major American cities such as Boston, Hartford, New Haven, Providence and New York are within driving distance of the resort. Running a very effective bus network to and from these major cities, Foxwoods has a very strict ‘order of appearance’ where busses arrive and depart on the clock – a very similar system to that of a major airport running slots for the aircraft.
Very effective way of attracting customers, although only useful in case of having a casino situa
Date Posted: 08-Jan-2007
Kristian Nygaard is a Tourism and Gambling consultant, based in Copenhagen, Denmark.
His company International Tourist Consultants (http://www.touristconsultants.com/) has been working with numerous tourism companies, including casinos in Scandinavia and the Baltic Countries.
Specializing in the development of gambling-related tourism and transportation, Kristian Nygaard has published several articles and has advocated for the development of 'popular gambling', a term used by him to describe casinos and other gambling enterprises that cater for the large middleclass segments.