A recent social media comment on one of my posts from Josh Duffy, aka YouTuber Slotaholic, got me thinking. His comment was in response to my post about a player increasing play, but seeing offers decline. Here’s what he posted:
Casinos need to up their offers across the board. $40 offers don’t entice people to go. Plus, slots have higher minimum bets now and it doesn’t take more than 2 minutes to burn through your offer. I think it’s a far better strategy to give players a real shot of winning on the house and in return the player will feel better about spending more than they intended to since their offer made the trip worthwhile.
I think every casino player has had their share of frustrations around offers, and I thought it’d be great to take a look at some of those frustrations. Among the people who read this site regularly are casino marketers, and they might find some of these notes helpful as well. So let’s dive in.
Offers Not Representative of Play
Let’s start with Josh’s comment about offer value. Josh is a bigger player than some of us will be, so focusing on the $40 isn’t so much as important as the relative value of an offer vs. the play that went into it.
For instance, for the last couple of years now I’ve played at a pretty similar level at all three local casinos. Two of those casinos give me pretty similar offers to each other, while the third gives me half. Of the two that give me a similar baseline offer, one has stackable kiosk offers and other overlapping opportunities, whereas the other doesn’t.
It is basically the same amount of driving to get to any of them, so why would I go to the one that gives me half the base offer the others do? And if all else is equal it’d be most opportune for me to go to the one with the stackable offers (although things have recently improved at the other in a way that has balanced it out).
But if you go to a casino and play for awhile and spend a few hundred, and then get a $10 or $20 offer, is that going to entice you to come out? Probably not. if you bring $50, maybe it would.
Offers That Come Late – Too Late
I recently was attempting to secure a comped room for a casino trip at a property hours from home. I went in early December, but the offers didn’t show up until November 23. By that time, other players had gotten offers and booked up all the available comp rooms.
Unless you have a host, or are on an offer cycle that gives you more lead time, this is a frustrating disadvantage for players who aren’t, and my end result was to stay off property, reducing how much I spent on property as a direct result of them not making things more convenient. Over time that can be a very expensive mistake.
Players need time to plan. Some casinos wait a bit too long to get those offers loaded so players can plan and book rooms. Perhaps that’s strategic when demand is up at a time like this, but I just find it frustrating, personally.
Surprise Offer Changes at Key Times
Focusing on that same casino, I had received three months of offers where I was getting free play 3x a week at $90 (on the high end for me). The very month I was slated to visit, I was switched to a six week offer with one-time use free play that was $115 – that amounts to a massive reduction.
I’m told other players had their free play slashed, but to me it was another slap in the face, given I hadn’t visited the casino to play any differently than before. I could see adjusting the offers when they realized someone hours away wasn’t going to be visiting 3x a week, but the combination of the size of the cut and the timing right before my trip was frustrating.
They also knocked me from two comp nights to one (which I couldn’t use, as noted above), so it was just insult to injury. On the bright side, I had an upside trip so I didn’t feel so bad after that.
Offers will certainly change – my Mlife offers have evolved over the past few months. But evolve is more the key word there – they’re not drastically different than before, and when talking with other players they’ve seen tweaks too.
My one exception to this complaint – if you’d like to bump my offers up unexpectedly, I will happily accept this. Feel free to do it whenever you’re ready. Unfortunately this happens much more rarely.
Offers That Don’t Align with Visit Frequency
If you visit a casino once a month, if your offers are dripped out in very small amounts on a daily frequency, would that entice you to visit a lot more often? It wouldn’t to me.
Conversely, if you visit weekly and only get a monthly or twice monthly offer, would that encourage you to go more or less often?
It seems often that casinos fail to factor in a player’s visitation and what’s realistic when setting up the offers. While I get an offer needs to be a realistic number based on what a visit can prompt, the frequency of the offer availability many times seems to misalign with what the reality can or should be.
Most of my home offers nowadays are once or twice weekly setups – that seems to strike a careful balance for players like me. But in markets like Atlantic City, I have some casinos that offer a daily free play allotment, whereas others offer a monthly allotment – it’s all over the map, but I play the same at whatever casino I’m at, more or less, so it’s confusing.
Offers That Don’t Align With Interests
Even though two of my three home casinos offer similar offers, they feel on the light side for what they are, as they ultimately achieve about 10 percent of my expected budgetary loss for the trip. Many times casino offers will be calculated factoring in things like free play, food and beverage and room discounts or freebie offerings.
It makes sense in places like Las Vegas that these things are bundled in a package – most people are going to travel there and avail themselves of all of it. But locals casinos are a different animal, and tend to work differently for many. Many times the room isn’t needed, for example.
In my case, I will stay at a home casino perhaps once a year, so most of the value comes from those free play offers. But then the free play is undervalued to my spend vs., say, Atlantic City, where I’m also vastly more likely to use more room nights. And my home casinos have been dealing with increasing competition, so it’s even more puzzling the offers are underweight.
Can’t See Offers or Book Online
One last one, although this is the more tech forward part of me talking – I hate when I have to call a phone number to book an offer I can do perfectly well on my own, if you give me a way to do so. I also find it frustrating that there are casinos out there that still don’t give you a way to check offers, balances, or status online.
The big companies certainly have more resources available than the smaller ones, but casinos that have companies that manage these things at other properties are among those that have this limitation, and that’s just an impediment.
What Complaints Do You Have?
Casino offers are a nice benefit, and can pad your bankroll, but they can also be a frustrating journey given they’re a key part of the loyalty aspect of visiting a casino. What do you find frustrating about casino offers?