By Lauren Hall, Founder & CEO, iVvy
Casino resorts have long been known as the ultimate one-stop shop for some of the best accommodations, food, entertainment that a given city has to offer. Bright lights, delicious food, local flair, incredible entertainment, lavish lobbies and luxury accommodations – these are just a few of the trademark elements that have attracted individuals and groups to casino resorts over the years.
With this in mind, it’s no surprise that modern casino resorts have become something of an event and meetings hot-spot. Recent studies project the casino hotel market will see significant growth by 2025, yet that growth isn’t attributed to the gaming sector alone. In fact, the business model shift to non-gaming revenue started in Las Vegas roughly a decade ago. According to the UNLV Center for Gaming Research, from 1999 to 2017, Las Vegas’ casinos’ non-gaming revenue has risen from 52% to approximately 66%.
Be it business or leisure, regardless of one’s reason for a hotel night stay, ensuring guests have access to the best food, entertainment and amenities can become somewhat overwhelming. This is especially apparent when we consider group travel, as prospective planners are burdened with so many moving parts to piece together the ‘perfect trip’.
It’s clear that casino resorts are taking a much-needed step in the direction of diversification in their offerings to appeal to the evolving, robust demands of modern guests. This has inspired many modern casino resorts to shift away from legacy technology and embrace more innovative, guest-centric solutions to empower their service model, ensuring everything from the booking process, to the stay itself, is seamless.
Effectively, the modern casino is one which utilizes emerging technology to attract events, group bookings and those who desire a truly unique, share-worthy experience.
A New and Improved Model to Meet Planner Expectations
Group business often brings with it high revenue potential. Yet, it’s group business that does tend to be more complicated in nature. Planners and the hotels which they vet must consider the unique needs of all attendees while identifying the package(s) and property that is best equipped for their meeting or event.
For casino resorts to be successful, they have to be dynamic, flexible and capable of providing a personalized service with a fast turn-around on inquiries, requests and guest demands. Guest expectations of hotels and travel brands are influenced mainly by an on-going penchant for instant gratification across all industries and touch-points. Planners especially, are often working within tight deadlines while also managing budgets and high expectations – so quite simply, they don’t have time for legacy processes. In fact, 75% of proposals are won by the first five properties to respond, requiring casinos to be incredibly efficient in managing leads.
Success in optimizing sales and catering management performance starts with a next-generation technology solution that can equip hotel personnel with automation, marketing and reporting. A manual approach to a travel segment which is so dynamic in nature just won’t cut it anymore, as planners expect a more connected, personalized and ultimately tech-savvy booking process.
This perhaps could not be truer as we look to the modern casino resort; as the casino model was once notorious for legacy processes that could not keep pace with the evolving demands of groups. Not only should planners have access to everything they need to search, vet and book a casino resort online (via a single easy-to-navigate system), but those resorts should also have access to everything they need to manage, market and gain data-driven insights from the same platform. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship, brought to you by new-age event booking software that’s finally establishing a modern industry standard for the group booking segment. Legacy systems drag down sales teams and clog the RFP pipeline and automation is key when it comes to solving that costly dilemma.
Group Hotel Bookings Shift Online
More than half of event planners say the web is their primary source for finding a venue. Rather than adopting a “let them come” mindset in regards to prospective planners and groups, more and more casinos are finally investing in an online group booking platform that allows them to publish live availability for function space. After all, which model would you expect to generate more bookings? One that waits for the reservations to roll in at their own accord, or one which provides global visibility to attract a larger audience? This new technology creates a comprehensive, interactive online marketplace with everything a planner or group would want to know about your resort, in one visual, responsive platform. Instead of chasing down sales reps, planners can easily search the database according to their criteria and narrow down a list of vetted, qualified properties that boast the amenities, packages and ‘wow’ factor that their event requires.
Given both the challenges and opportunities, there is no excuse for casino operators that fail to harness the power of new-generation solutions to optimize the group bookings and management process. Casinos must be equipped to accept online reservations and payments, and easily curate (and market) customized packages that are strategically designed to resonate with prospective planners. Not only does this streamline a process that was once unjustly complicated and often rife with delays, but it helps resorts to maximize on previously untapped revenue potential with each booking. Regardless of the type of event, the process of finding and booking the right casino resort should now be smooth and frictionless.
Taking F&B to the Next Level
A recent IACC survey indicated that event organizers ranked hotel F&B as one of the most important considerations when planning a function or event.
Expectedly, food makes up the majority of catering-and-banquets revenue; as reported by STR’s research, it accounted for 57% of revenue at luxury hotels, 59% at upper-upscale properties and 58% at upscale hotels. Beverage revenue accounts for another 10% of C&B revenue at luxury, 8% at upper-upscale and 6% at upscale hotels in the sample. Not only that, but reports show that F&B revenue makes up about 22% of a casino’s total yearly revenue, and on average, casinos employ 1,200 F&B-related staff members.
Casino resorts are ideally positioned to optimize this valuable piece of the pie by leveraging the right technology and strategies. After all, casino food and beverage operations are much more than just servicing meals. With the help of new-age management systems, casino resorts can utilize food and beverage as a strategic tool in generating additional revenue. Furthermore, by relying on the F&B segment to curate unique, local experiences, casinos are well equipped to tap into the modern attendee’s desire for share-worthy moments. Using analytics to better understand each group and their particular desire and those subsequent trends, casino restaurants can serve as necessary amenities that powerfully influence the guest experience.
Casino resorts are, quite possibly, in the best position to cater to the evolving (and ever-profitable) demands of modern groups. With new-age technology and policies in place, we look forward to witnessing the continued rise of the modern casino, as a sought-out destination for events and meetings of all size and scope.