Contributed by Paula Perrin, Sr. Market Analyst, SHR
The Casino model that naturally revolved around gambling revenue is changing. For the first time in history, room profits are outpacing gambling profits in Las Vegas. In Macau, the traditionally easy flow of gaming revenue has been steadily falling for at least the past two years. Though these trends might seem to mark the end of an era to some, for the savvy casino owner, they are indicators of the beginning of a more sustainable, room-centric casino business—one that becomes more possible with the right booking technology used to its best advantage.
A Changing Landscape
To fully grasp any solution to this trend, it’s important to first understand the major factors that are contributing to it. One of the more obvious comes down to legalities. In Macau, a city that boasts the world’s largest gambling concern at $29BB, a new nationwide anti-corruption campaign has unintentionally put more brakes on an already slowing casino market, prompting owners to look elsewhere for revenues. Added to this globally, and perhaps a major factor in the Las Vegas market’s slowing, is the rise of younger, more “experience-centric” travelers who are looking well beyond the confines of a gambling parlor when planning their next adventure. But whatever the reason, one thing is clear; the path to boosting house revenues is going to depend on aggressively marketing the hotel itself to an audience far beyond just high rollers.
Fortunately, much of this marketing can be done by making your CRS and booking engine the heart of your new strategy. Here’s one reason why. According to a recent study from think with Google, a full two-thirds of Millennials are comfortable using a smartphone to research and book an entire trip, with 64 percent saying that they regularly book a hotel room on a mobile device after shopping on one. Considering that these are the same people who may be skewing your revenue picture right now, the following are some features and techniques to look for and master in your booking plans to woo them over as you work toward the new casino model.
Responsive design helps you make sure that your conversions can happen on multiple devices. This means keeping content relevant across all mediums. Hoteliers need to look at their own hotel on every device to see what the guests see. Doing so can give you the right perspective for making your most productive changes and updates. Add-Ons are an easy way to add revenue and improve your guests’ experience, and consist of virtually any hotel-sponsored products, i.e. shuttles, bicycle rentals, special room prep, foods, wines, etc. Just remember to use “limited inventory management” so you don’t oversell your add-ons, and to set limits for multi-room amenities through your tech platform.
Upgrade availability lists top upgrades for each booked room, and allows for gentle up-selling, making booking more costly rooms less stressful for guests (and more appealing) by taking it in smaller steps. Guest recognition means you are making sure guest profiles are “recognized” via your CRM. This also allows you to generate specific rates for loyalty programs per guest. It’s helpful to have your email authentication for guest-sign up right in the booking flow to streamline the process.
Persuasive messaging features like strike-through, which show immediate savings and value on-screen for the guest, can help you compete in OTA-style. The goal, after all, is to get guests to convert in the moment, so showing true value in that moment is vital. This kind of messaging also gives you the ability to craft personalized offerings for each guest group, i.e. tours, weddings, clubs, etc. Customized branding allows you to have an interface that is a seamless experience for your guest because navigation should blend into your site, not break away from it. To do this, your booking engine must share some visual aspects of the hotel website to not jar the guest as they explore. No one wants to feel they’re being re-directed out of the hotel website. Blended Rates is a capability that can save guests from the dreaded “non-available” messages, helping to curb booking abandonment while also encouraging longer stays, which means healthier revenues.
The Future Looks Bright
The time to embrace the new casino model is now, and Las Vegas seems to be the proof. According to David G. Schwartz, Director of UNLV’s Center for Gaming Research, if current trends continue, by 2023, Las Vegas Strip resorts are expected to make about $2 billion more from their rooms than from their gambling. Macau seems to be putting their hopes and dreams into this new basket already, pouring millions into three new resorts featuring a mini Eiffel Tower, gondola rides, and a fresh supply of elite shopping and dining locales. By having and making the best out of your booking technology now, you can reinvent your casino strategy from the inside out and far beyond the roulette wheel—gondola optional.