Between gambling, food, booze and rooms, I spend a lot of money in Vegas casinos every year and yet I've never had a host that I could call to reward me for my loyalty. As a result, I haven't been shown much... and hey, as a 'journologger' (love making up terms), maybe I shouldn't be seeking that out anyway. I'm not too worried about myself but I definitely see a weakness here. Lets look more closely.
Over the past decade and especially since the Great Recession, we've seen some of the historical institutions of the casino industry remake themselves. These days, gaming revenue makes up only 39% of the average total, a shift from 15 years ago when it was closer to 58%.
What should be the next sacred cow to fall? The casino host.
Ok, maybe 'fall' is not the right way to look at it - how about transform instead? There was a time when the goal of these sales-oriented-sometimes-mercenary employees was simply to get you on property to sit at a slot machine or hit a dice table, plied by free drinks and a couple of comps to the coffee shop. At this point, that's old-style thinking.
Capturing every ounce of revenue from both gaming and non-casino operations should be the goal of every property GM or president. Why is it then that loyalty programs are still mostly gambling centric? How about a new class of 'property hosts', rewarding recurring visitors, not just to the penny slots but to the suites as well? The current system is a relic of a previous age.
Along with revenue diversification should come promotional and loyalty diversitifaction as well. We've seen some of that with new programs designed to highlight the 'leisure spend' dollar - but not nearly enough. Plus, they still charge for crappy Wi-Fi that barely works (no, I'm not gonna stop bitching about that).
Sure, Las Vegas casinos will always need a few high-end hosts to take care of the big players but there's a whole new and emerging market of customers who want to be taken care of for just spending money on stuff outside of the casino: Rooms. Suites. Shows. Clubs. Food. Retail. Better food. Golf.
Free tip: Care about these people, even if they don't gamble. You'll make more money.
If I spend $1,800 on a couple of nights in a suite, why is that worth less than dropping the same amount on Wheel of Fourtune? Sure, you had to pay a housekeeper to clean the room but the marginal cost there is negligable (or at least that's what they taught me in college). Sure, casino dollars may drop fastest to the bottom line but this a newly competitive economy. Money is money is money.
Now, there are definitely properties that have been working to moderninze along these lines, even if they still use the older nomenclature of 'casino host'. The Cosmopolitan, Las Vegas Sands (Venetian & Palazzo) and to some degree Caesars' Total Rewards and MGM, among others, have all started to credit for some non-casino spend.
Great but not enough. Looking at overall spend should be the standard, not a 'revolutionary practice' or half-measure.
This is not new ground to cover. Some Vegas casinos have affiliations with national hotel brands that have this mastered and in some cases allow customers to spend those points in Clark County. Learn from them!!
The traditional marketing strategy of casino-centric hosts is outdated. The sooner it is replaced by something that captures and rewards every dollar coming into the city, the better off the Strip operators will be, serving happier and more loyal customers.