Motivations of a Gambler

As casinos compete for visits from their database, they need to realize there are a variety of psychological motivations that drive guests to choose one casino over another. I hear from marketers all the time that their customers just want their offers. We know from various research projects conducted in multiple markets that only a subset of the database chooses the casino they are going to visit based on offer strength.

Some customers are attracted to a particular casino for the socializing opportunities. It may be an event, program or promotion that facilitates the socializing opportunity, but in the end it is the chance to see and talk with friends. This type of guest can be affected by the marketer by ensuring there are a variety of opportunities throughout the month that give people the chance to spend time with friends as part of the event.

The second type of customers who visit casinos are there for the excitement. That excitement level can be achieved by appealing to all of the senses. Sights, sounds, temperatures, even smells have all been used to create an exciting atmosphere. Nothing adds to the excitement levels in a casino more than the perception that people are winning all around the casino. Jackpot meters and signs, as well as announcements as jackpots are hit, add to the excitement level.

Other customers use visiting casinos as an escape from their normal lives. In some cases, people are bored at home and use a visit to the casino as away to escape that boredom. In other cases, they work very hard and need to step back from that work and spend some time at the casino. Either way, service is going to be very important to these guests. This may be the opposite from the customers who are there to socialize. They are going to be as concerned about the speed a drink is delivered or a jackpot being paid quickly.

A number of mid- to higher-worth customers choose their casino based on the amount of recognition they get. Tiered players’ club and host programs appeal to this type of guest. Identifying these guests’ need to be recognized is key to increasing the percentage of their play to your casino. These players require a lot of attention, but they may not need as much reinvestment as some other types of guests.

Perhaps the opposite of the recognition seekers are the bargain hunters. They are primarily offer-driven and therefore are the least loyal of all types of guests. Marketers are adept at driving trips from this group, but unfortunately their loyalty is fleeting and their profit margins are very low. Sometimes winning the fight for these guests means losing the fight for profits.

There are guests who visit casinos based on taking the challenge of beating the game. They tend to be attracted to table games and video poker. These games have skill levels that enable some customers to do better over an extended period of time compared to other players. Live poker is even more appealing to these types of guests because they are competing against other players, not the house.

Finally, there are some guests who visit casinos just for the pleasure, the feeling of euphoria they get just by playing the game. In my opinion, these guests need to watched very closely as they may be the most at risk for developing a problem. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be marketed to. I have seen many people who enjoy playing and are not creating any sort of problem for themselves or their families.

For a variety of reasons, it is very difficult for any casino to compete for all types of guests. Advertising budgets prevent getting all messages out to the potential customers. Even if you could, it would wind up being a very jumbled message and therefore prevent customers from understanding what your casino is all about. Additionally, creating amenities and marketing initiatives that are appealing to all groups becomes financially difficult and we rarely have the human resources to pull off all of these requirements.

You must, then, decide what type of customers you are going to focus on. That does not mean you have to pick one, but you cannot attract all seven. In making this determination, we need to understand what the market perceives us to be. What do our guests currently like about us, and what do they think we do poorly? Market research conducted by firms who understand the different motivations of casino customers is the tool we use to get the insight we need.

Combining the results of the market research with granular analysis generated by a high-quality business intelligence tool will enable the marketer to have a very targeted market. From there, you can design an effective direct mail program and combine it with a special event schedule that will appeal to your guests. A players’ club structure and player development program can be designed to support those efforts. Once the structure is in place, advertising messages can be crafted to ensure all potential guests know who you are and what your casino is all about.

If you go through the process described in this article, you will narrow down your target market. That means you will be passing on some customers. Many operators say we can’t afford to pass on anyone. To that I say, if you are targeting everyone, you are targeting no one.

At best, targeting everyone is expensive. At worst, it is confusing and ineffective. We welcome all customers, but we are targeting specific subsets. That targeting means marketing programs, messages and amenities are designed to appeal to certain customers. We optimize our results when we create an environment that allows us to dominate our targeted market segment and disregard the desires of the guests we are not targeting.

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