Monthly Archives: October 2013

Casino Marketing for Dummies

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Steve Karoul is a recognized casino consultant with 35 years of hands-on experience with the best casinos both within the United States and internationally. He is also an authority on all aspects of casino marketing. Steve has lived in numerous countries and has conducted casino marketing activities in well over 100 countries around the world.   He is an author, a lecturer and an educator who often injects his own hands on experiences and openly shares his ideas and thoughts with fellow industry executives. Telephone +(1-860) 536-1828 or [email protected] or see www.euroasiacasino.com

I recently took up digital photography and wanted to learn more about how to improve my photos.  I went to the book store to look for an instructional book.  I looked in the photography section and I purchased a book titled “Digital Photography for Dummies” because it was written for an inexperienced new user.  I have used the “Dummies” books before to learn about many new subjects of interest.  Having worked in the casino industry for thirty five years primarily in casino marketing I realize that most of what I know today came from “on-the-job”, hands-on experience.  I am currently self-employed as a casino consultant specializing in all aspects of casino marketing.  I have written and published numerous articles over the years about casino marketing.  Never-the-less, I still feel that I am always learning new things about casino marketing and try to share them openly especially with younger folks new to the casino industry.

I receive numerous requests every month for help from young people who want to break into the casino marketing field, learn about casino junkets, better understand Asian casino marketing or who want to learn more to improve their present skills.  As a result of this I now realize that there is not a great deal of information available for young people who want to learn about casino marketing.  Therefore I have decided to try to offer some helpful recommendations and suggestions.

First, I think it is important for people to realize that it is often very difficult and frustrating to break into casino marketing in one of the better positions unless you have some unusual skill set, past work experience or speak a desired foreign language.  Most of the larger casinos around the world usually try to promote from within in order to develop career paths for their own hard working, dedicated, loyal employees. Marketing seems to be one of the more glamorous desirable positions that many people want.  Consequently, one strategy is to just get hired first by your company of choice; hopefully for a lower ranked position within the marketing division, and watch for any postings or listings of new open positions that the casino wants to fill.  It is a great way to learn from within and to climb the corporate ladder to a higher, more desirable marketing position.  Read More…

The Mystery Behind Casino Mystery Shopping

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Steve Karoul is a recognized casino consultant with 35 years of hands-on experience with the best casinos both within the United States and internationally. He is also an authority on all aspects of casino marketing. Steve has lived in numerous countries and has conducted casino marketing activities in well over 100 countries around the world.   He is an author, a lecturer and an educator who often injects his own hands on experiences and openly shares his ideas and thoughts with fellow industry executives. Telephone +(1-860) 536-1828 or [email protected] or see www.euroasiacasino.com

Mystery Shopping has been around for many years.  It is not a new concept. It is particularly prevalent in the retail and hospitality industries.  However, it is a relatively new concept for the casino industry.  I am now involved with a fair amount of casino consulting as well as lectures at various casino conferences.  I often stress to casino executives and casino managers that there are three important factors involved with success in the modern casino industry.  Years ago, I used to always use Conrad Hilton’s often coined expression that there were three key factors involved with success in the hotel industry and those three factors were #1) location, #2) location and #3) location.

Location is obviously a very important factor but in today’s dynamic casino industry I believe that three of the more important factors today are #1) communicate, #2) celebrate and #3) validate.  You can never over communicate in the casino industry especially with your staff.  Most staff are hard working, loyal and dedicated.  They want to be involved so I always recommend that casino operators communicate to the legal maximum allowed by law.  Casino operators that communicate well with their staff will reap the benefits and the rewards. Involvement from happy motivated staff is a critical success factor that will payoff handsomely for both large and small casino operators around the world. Neither location nor size matters when it comes to communicating well with your staff.  Improving upon this one factor alone can make a huge difference in your operation.

The second success factor that I mentioned is celebrate.  Celebrate both with your customers and with your employees.  Look for reasons to celebrate.  People want to have fun.  People come to casinos to have fun.  Celebration is a critical element of having fun.  Unfortunately it is an area that often gets overlooked or the almighty budget over-rules and the celebrations never take place with the casino staff.  What a missed opportunity.  I often advise casino operators to develop a new line item in their budgets called “Celebrations” and to budget an amount of money each year that you can keep in reserve to use for those “unexpected” opportunities that will always arise when you least expect them so that you can celebrate both with your customers and with your staff.  They will appreciate it. Read More…

Understanding the Basics about Casino Management Systems (CMS)

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Steve Karoul is a recognized casino consultant with 35 years of hands-on experience with the best casinos both within the United States and internationally. He is also an authority on all aspects of casino marketing. Steve has lived in numerous countries and has conducted casino marketing activities in well over 100 countries around the world.   He is an author, a lecturer and an educator who often injects his own hands on experiences and openly shares his ideas and thoughts with fellow industry executives. Telephone +(1-860) 536-1828 or [email protected] or see www.euroasiacasino.com

During my many years of consulting, I have witnessed a continued evolution and growth in the Casino Management Software needs of various casinos around the world.  It is an area that is often overlooked in the development stages of a new casino or during a pending software update.  However, this area should not be taken lightly.  There are actually many different options available but most suppliers only recommend a few of the larger systems to most casinos.  Sometimes this can be overkill as well as extremely expensive for some casinos who may be perfectly satisfied with a less expensive casino management system.

A Casino Management System (CMS) serves as a focal point for the day to day processing and recording of operational transactions throughout the facility.   Realistically, there is no one single vendor who offers all of the software that a major casino resort needs to operate and manage their facility.  Consequently there has always been a need for a central management system that is capable of interacting and collecting meaningful information from the many “best of breed” operational systems commonly found in today’s modern casino facilities.  Some of the basic applications that should integrate with your Casino Management Software include Slot Monitoring / Accounting, Slot Ticketing, Cashless Gaming, eGames Platforms, RFID Table Monitoring, Live Point of Sale Systems for Keno, Bingo, Race and Sports Book, Promotional Kiosks, Hotel, Food and Beverage Point of Sale, Surveillance and Security, Responsible Gaming, On-line Internet Gaming, Third Party Check Cashing, General Ledger, and Data Warehousing just to mention a few..

Making sense of this entire complex subject can be very difficult and often overwhelming for many casino operators or casino developers.   I am often reminded by some of my software friends of just a few key items to remember when selecting a Casino Management System for your property: Read More…

Artificial Intelligence, Poker Bots and Wining at Poker

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Steve Karoul is a recognized casino consultant with 35 years of hands-on experience with the best casinos both within the United States and internationally. He is also an authority on all aspects of casino marketing. Steve has lived in numerous countries and has conducted casino marketing activities in well over 100 countries around the world.   He is an author, a lecturer and an educator who often injects his own hands on experiences and openly shares his ideas and thoughts with fellow industry executives. Telephone +(1-860) 536-1828 or [email protected] or see www.euroasiacasino.com

Approximately ten years ago I was approached by a company from Israel that was working on some artificial intelligence projects.  The owner loved to play poker so he started on a new venture to try to see if he could develop a program based upon artificial intelligence to help him to become a better poker player.  This project involved the development and programming of the software, physics, mathematical analysis and a variety of gaming and casino marketing experts including myself.  All of this was before the current boom and popularity of both online poker and casino gaming.  Einstein was ahead of his time as well as the father of modern physics.  Einstein was a genius; Einstein was a curious type of individual who liked to question “Why?”  My poker enthusiast friend was the same type of creative, curious individual but whose passion was playing poker and gambling.  He was convinced that with the help of computers, proper programming and software development involving complex algorithms, etc. that he could learn the secrets and teach himself to be a great poker player and a great gambler.  I am still not sure whether he wanted to learn these skills purely for enjoyment or to make lots of money as a semi-professional, highly skilled player.  He never told me.

Artificial Intelligence or “AI” can replicate or mimic many of the human brain functions.  Computer programmers have often played with new software applications to try to match or improve upon human brain functions.  This became very evident with the game of Chess. Deep Blue was the name given to a chess playing computer developed by IBM. On May 11, 1997, the machine, with human intervention between games, won the second six-game match against world champion Garry Kasparov by two wins to one with three draws. Kasparov accused IBM of cheating and demanded a rematch. IBM refused and retired Deep Blue. Kasparov had beaten a previous version of Deep Blue in 1996.  IBM used one of their faster computers in 1997 but that was sixteen years ago.  Computer chips, RAM and software have been improving dramatically and geometrically every year since 1997.  It is amazing how powerful some of the new computers for gaming are today compared to just a few years ago. Read More…

The Old Annual Casino Budget Dilemma

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Steve Karoul is a recognized casino consultant with 35 years of hands-on experience with the best casinos both within the United States and internationally. He is also an authority on all aspects of casino marketing. Steve has lived in numerous countries and has conducted casino marketing activities in well over 100 countries around the world.   He is an author, a lecturer and an educator who often injects his own hands on experiences and openly shares his ideas and thoughts with fellow industry executives. Telephone +(1-860) 536-1828 or [email protected] or see www.euroasiacasino.com

Casino budgets are an annual process that seems to come and go without too much ceremony or celebration. Depending upon your casino’s budget process, it can be a productive activity or an activity of futile frustration. I have researched the budget process in many different casinos looking for common denominators as well as common helpful hints to ease the pain. However, one common denominator that was heard was “I wish we could change all of the B.S. that goes along with the budget process”. So, you are not alone out there in casino land. It was the same comments from many different locations and many different kinds of casinos. Financial people view things one way, operations people view things another way and marketing people view things in an even different way. Further investigation did however divulge some common denominators as well as common complaints.

Everyone agreed that the budget process was in fact necessary and everyone agreed that some form of financial planning and record keeping is also necessary for every casino. Most individuals surveyed also felt that the casino business is different from the hotel industry, restaurant industry, manufacturing, etc. but do share certain commonalities. They also recognized that the accounting process must basically conform to certain pre-established standard accounting practices for record keeping and budgeting. Never-the-less, many casino executives felt that the overall process was in some ways counterproductive and could be improved upon. This common denominator or comment was intriguing.

Further investigation revealed that many casino executives felt that the budgeting process found in many casinos today is not always helpful since it sometimes may actually hide or hinder growth opportunities. It may mask the truth when market conditions change unexpectedly such as what we are experiencing today with gasoline prices in the $3.00+ per gallon range or higher in some States. Budgets force people to still try to “make the number” no matter what. This can cause undue stress throughout the casino organization and create a very serious and stressful atmosphere that oftentimes is conveyed to the customer in the form of poor customer service or an “un-fun” atmosphere. Remember, customers come to casinos to have FUN whether it is from gaming, entertainment, dining, etc. Read More…

Value – A Simple Word that all of your Players Understand Well – Do you?

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Steve Karoul is a recognized casino consultant with 35 years of hands-on experience with the best casinos both within the United States and internationally. He is also an authority on all aspects of casino marketing. Steve has lived in numerous countries and has conducted casino marketing activities in well over 100 countries around the world.   He is an author, a lecturer and an educator who often injects his own hands on experiences and openly shares his ideas and thoughts with fellow industry executives. Telephone +(1-860) 536-1828 or [email protected] or see www.euroasiacasino.com

One of my favorite sayings is, “The operation was a success but the patient still died.”  Oftentimes, in today’s highly competitive casino industry, balancing common sense with value or perceived value in a highly regulated environment can make the difference between success or having your patient (the customer) die (or disappear).  This may sound strange but one of my friends named Dennis Conrad who I think is one of the better casino marketing consultants (besides myself) in the casino industry today, also has a favorite expression; “Doing business today is not about making money, it is about creating value”.  I totally agree with Dennis.

One time, I received a telephone call from a small player that I knew quite well on a personal basis.  He called me to tell me that he was sorry but that he was going to have to cancel his reservation at Foxwoods.  I asked him why, and he informed me that he was offered a better deal from another casino.  He told me that he received a discount coupon in the mail and that he could use that extra savings for play in the casino.  The $20 difference in room rates represented value to him.  I was also intrigued because this customer was own brother.  So much for loyalty in the casino industry today; value won.  This made me think for a moment about what else do we take for granted that we often see day in and day out that may be perceived as “value” by our customers.  Every casino in the world has either direct or indirect competitors depending upon their location.

Foxwoods was rapidly approaching its annual strategic planning sessions. Therefore, I decided to issue a challenge to all Foxwoods management throughout the organization to first take a good hard look at our own operation within each of their own operating divisions and then to make at least three personal visits to our direct competitors or any other competitors on either a local or a regional basis.  I discussed this with our CEO, who immediately recognized the thought process, and issued a personal memo to all management to support our new Value Project and to accept the challenge. Read More…

The Casino Secret Formula for Success

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Steve Karoul is a recognized casino consultant with 35 years of hands-on experience with the best casinos both within the United States and internationally. He is also an authority on all aspects of casino marketing. Steve has lived in numerous countries and has conducted casino marketing activities in well over 100 countries around the world.   He is an author, a lecturer and an educator who often injects his own hands on experiences and openly shares his ideas and thoughts with fellow industry executives. Telephone +(1-860) 536-1828 or [email protected] or see www.euroasiacasino.com

I know that many of you have followed my ongoing series of articles about how to make money in the casino business today.  I keep repeating one of my friend’s favorite sayings that being successful in the casino business today is not about making money but rather it is about creating value.  And as always, many of you keep challenging me for more detail and more in depth information.  Therefore, since I was employed previously by Foxwoods Resort Casino, it makes sense for me to use Foxwoods as an example for this article.  Foxwoods is the largest casino in North America today.  Foxwoods, at the time,  had over 380 Table Games, 7,400 Slot Machines, 1,500 Hotel Rooms and approximately 12,000 employees plus a wide variety or restaurants, salon, spa, showroom and two Rees Jones designed golf courses.  Foxwoods is located in the middle of 2,500 acres of pristine virgin forest half way between New York City and Boston.  Therefore, due to Foxwoods remote location, Foxwoods aggressively marketed to every single segment of its different gaming markets ranging from Bingo, Poker, Slots and Table Games.  We also focused a great deal of attention and marketing on our non-gaming revenue producing areas such as salon, spa, entertainment and retail to help support the overall marketing efforts of the property.

In addition to all of this, many people still believe that there must be a secret formula for success in the casino industry.  This made me reflect for a moment to try to think about exactly what are the critical elements that would make up some magical formula for Foxwoods phenomenal success at that time that could be replicated by other casinos around the world.  In retrospect, I did come up with my own interpretation of that secret success formula:

The Casino Secret Formula for Success = 

The 3 P’s (People, Product & Profit) X Marketing / Financial Analysis, Training, Motivation & Fear Read More…

Coupons, Groupons and Daily Deals for Casinos – Which one works best?

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Steve Karoul is a recognized casino consultant with 35 years of hands-on experience with the best casinos both within the United States and internationally. He is also an authority on all aspects of casino marketing. Steve has lived in numerous countries and has conducted casino marketing activities in well over 100 countries around the world.   He is an author, a lecturer and an educator who often injects his own hands on experiences and openly shares his ideas and thoughts with fellow industry executives. Telephone +(1-860) 536-1828 or [email protected] or see www.euroasiacasino.com

In today’s economy it’s tougher than ever to acquire new players, re-activate old ones, and increase visitation to your casino.    To stay competitive in today’s market, and to maintain and build your property’s “share of wallet” many casinos are anxiously trying to reinvent themselves, and evaluating new business development opportunities. So how do casinos find and develop new business in today’s fiercely competitive market?  How do casinos retain their existing base without sacrificing the bottom line? And what is the best way to reactivate your existing base of customers who may be frequenting your competition?

One new tactic employed by businesses is the revolution of the “Daily Deal”.  This recent phenomenon led by Groupon and Living Social has changed the buying process for budget conscience consumers.  Many industries have adopted these models including the travel, restaurant, and salon and spa service industries.  You can even buy a coupon for a discount sky-diving jump.  So what they have proven is that with the right incentive, consumers are willing to try anything once.

With the overwhelming success of Groupon and Living Social, daily deal websites have popped up like wildflowers in the past two years.  These sites offer a no-upfront cost advertising opportunity to businesses that are willing to provide discounted products or services to be sold on the daily deal website.  They tend to focus on small businesses with small marketing budgets.  Oftentimes, it’s the small business owner who is also the marketing director, the advertising manager, and the bean counter, so the opportunity to reach a wide audience of potentially new customers is appealing. Read More…

Asian Casino Marketing: I’m not Chinese, I am Vietnamese

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Steve Karoul is a recognized casino consultant with 35 years of hands-on experience with the best casinos both within the United States and internationally. He is also an authority on all aspects of casino marketing. Steve has lived in numerous countries and has conducted casino marketing activities in well over 100 countries around the world.   He is an author, a lecturer and an educator who often injects his own hands on experiences and openly shares his ideas and thoughts with fellow industry executives. Telephone +(1-860) 536-1828 or [email protected] or see www.euroasiacasino.com

Asian Casino Marketing is not as easy as it sounds.  In fact, it is a fairly complicated process and if not performed properly it can actually be perceived as offensive to the intended recipients. There is an old expression in Asia that when translated goes something like this, “Asia is not Asia”.  When you think about it you begin to better understand its subtle message; one size does not fit all and Asia is neither one country nor one culture.  Asia is a vast melting pot of numerous different countries, languages and cultures.  Some of them have marked differences based upon thousands of years of history and cultural evolution.  Asians are extremely nationalistic and proud of their own cultures and customs.  Therefore, it is extremely offensive to generalize all Asians as one in the same.  They are not.  Successful casino marketers will understand this up front and make every effort to research their target markets before jumping into any new Asian marketing campaign.

Chinese is normally the largest Asian culture in the United States but this may vary when segmented by geographic locations or from city to city.  In some instances, Vietnamese or another Asian culture may dominate on a local basis close a particular casino.  Never-the-less, many uninformed casino marketing managers still insist upon copying and implementing marketing strategies specifically developed to target and satisfy Chinese gamblers.  However, this approach may backfire on you and actually be offensive if your Asian players are not Chinese.  The cultural mix of Asian players residing near your casino may vary dramatically.  Do your homework first to determine if you want to attract Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Filipino, Thai, Cambodian, Laotian, Malaysian, or other Asian players. Read More…

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