Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Time Poverty Affecting Casino Biz

September 2, 2009: summarized from Hotel Interactive -- Turns out the gambling business isn’t recession proof after all. The industry has clearly been hit in this economic downturn as well as by the proliferation of legalized gaming throughout the country. Now in most places, folks can travel a short distance to play games of chance rather than have to board an airplane to visit places such as Las Vegas and Atlantic City.

But interestingly enough one result of all this tumult is that casino companies are getting more engaged in creating winning experiences that ups the ante on fun, and hopefully puts more dollars into the casino resort owner’s pockets.

During the last decade many casino resorts have done a tremendous job of upping the percentage of revenue taken from off the casinos floor – that’s industry parlance for cash earned in places such as the hotel, shows and F&B. However, many are looking to get people back on the casino floor by making games more user friendly an personalizing the gaming experience.

It makes sense too. Hoteliers have quickly caught on that creating highly personalized experience immunizes against industry downturns, protects pricing and gets people to spend more. Now casino resorts are using that same concept to more fully engage people with better gambling experiences.

"Given that a lower proportion of U.S. travelers are planning to take an international trip during the next two years, the results of this year's MONITOR underscore the high degree of interest in travel within the United States. And the data suggest there is a wonderful opportunity for preferred destinations to capitalize on this trend," says Peter C. Yesawich, chairman and CEO of Ypartnership.

Casinos resorts have proven time and again to be a favored destination for travelers. It’s a good thing too because according to the 2009 Active Gambler Profile by WMS Gaming, nearly nine in 10 active casino gamblers have taken one or more overnight leisure trips at least 75 miles away from home during the past 12 months. Over four-fifths of active casino gamblers played in a casino on one or more overnight trips, averaging nearly two overnight trips during the past 12 months. Among those who gambled in a casino on an overnight trip, nearly one-half spent an average of $100 or more per day on gambling during their visits. Approximately eight in 10 active casino gamblers have visited a land-based casino that is part of a hotel or resort during the past 12 months.

Additionally, about one in five (18 percent) are Active Avid gamblers who take 10-or-more day or overnight trips to gamble each year, the survey said. Active Avid gamblers are primarily non-Hispanic Whites, married, have an annual household income from $75,000-$149,000, and are Boomers (39 percent).

“There is a sense of time poverty that is changing the way people behave,” said Rob Bone, VP marketing with WMS Gaming, a company that makes slot machines.

So how can resort operators keep people playing longer – and thereby create more profits?

Nearly half (45 percent) of active gamblers also said they feel they don’t have enough vacation time, while almost as many (42 percent) agreed they don’t have enough personal time, or time just for themselves. The sense of “vacation deprivation” is not without foundation. Americans average 13 vacation days annually despite having 18 available to them, according to research conducted in 2007 by the World Tourism Organization (WTO). By comparison, Italy's vacation day average is 42 days; Germany's 35; and Japan's 25, WTO found, said Bone.

“We have fought through the economic downturn by taking the gaming experience to a new level. Slot machines are much more interactive these days,” said Bone.

Take the recently introduced Star Trek game. Players can get a unique log in for the game (more than 500,000 so far) and can return to their game at a future time or date. The benefit here is the game unlocks new levels and experiences making it more appealing than other slots where people simply play long enough to play a bonus round and then consider moving to a new machine.

According to the Profile, active gamblers are drawn to unique and unduplicated gaming experiences. They’re also interested in playing on machines tied to others nearby for a more shared experience and are craving sensory immersion.

“The lines of separation are narrowing more and [casino resort operators] can take advantage of elements from in-home entertainment experiences and leverage it on the casino slot floor,” said Bone.

Read more at: http://bit.ly/nh24N

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