As casinos around the country slowly re-open in their new Covid-19 incarnations, I am struck by how little communication there was between many casino operators and their guests during the pandemic. Yes, when most news is bad news, there isn’t much reason for communication and thus many chose silence. There was however one shining example of a casino whose patrons stayed engaged throughout the shutdown via there online rewards program. This large, first class Native Indian gaming operator stayed top of mind with their better players by keeping their remote redemption program active.
This casino’s merchandise rewards program had gone from being offered in a 4,000 s.f. store with a significant stocking position for immediate takeaway (vs. being drop shipped to their home), to a small rewards area with 7 web enabled redemption stations for remote fulfillment only and display cases of available merchandise, and finally to a purely online remote redemption solution. Patrons can now redeem their hard-earned points from the comfort of their home. And while the coronavirus shut down the casino in March, it could not shut down the interest in the online catalog, where thousands of patrons continued to shop and redeem their points while the casino was dark.
In years of talking up the benefits of a remote redemption solution, I have consistently heard one main argument against this strategy: foot traffic. “We want to get them here” I’d here, as if they could magically earn the points they were redeeming by not frequenting the casino. This “butts in the seats” mentality dismisses the following facts:
- Less time shopping a rewards program on property means more time on device.
- Freeing up floor space for another use or a paying tenant can increase revenue and maximize ROI.
- Offering a service your competitor may be unwilling to gives you a leg up.
- Rewarding your patrons with this luxury may make them more likely to visit your property.
Certainly, no one was earning points during the shutdown. But the idea that this casino’s guests could spend the points they had already earned, afforded them the opportunity to stay top of mind with their better players. The result was an increase in rewards website visits and redemptions that were equal to, and in some cases surpassed, year over year results for a given week. On top of which, the average duration of each online session was in the 13 minute range for that time period; valuable time engaged with the brand!