Coronavirus causes market downturn

by Noah Taylor Last Updated
Coronavirus causes market downturn

The Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak has spurred serious revenue downturn in Asia’s gaming sector.

In response, casino stocks in Macau and the Asia-Pacific have taken a brutal beating in the past week.

Casino.org reports that although Macau’s casinos reopened after a two-week government mandated closure, restrictions on travel to the area remain in full force.

Other countries in the region are also exercising their right to prohibit Chinese tourists from entering their borders.

Gaming operators will have to zero in on enhanced ways to draw in and keep players coming back, using specific and very targeted methods to do so.

In the hospitality industry – which of course includes casinos and integrated resorts – how customers experience their stay and play often hinges on the engagement levels and behaviour of employees, which in turn is a critical component of players; experiences.

The CLASS framework is an acronym for five key components casinos may be able to implement to rev up customers’ excitement about returning to and playing in Macau’s gaming venues.

It’s particularly relevant in Asian gaming markets, where several jurisdictions could be vying for the same customer.

Key components to boost business

The five key components are culture, loyalty, analytics, service blueprint and servicescape.

Culture should be employee-centric, as well as customer-centric.

Gaming operators could borrow from the playbooks of other industries – such as Zappos, Southwest Airlines, Nordstrom, and Enterprise Rent-A-Car – which have demonstrated strong bottom lines by looking out for their employees internally and extending that to ensuring that guests have a much better time.

Most casino loyalty programs are built on the “earn-and-burn” concept – where gamblers get rewarded after a certain amount of money has been played.

But in the wake of the coronavirus casino shutdowns and the need to do everything possible to spur play and keep customers in their seats, there will have to be a shift in business-as-usual if gaming operators hope to have good earnings reports at the end of 2020.

Attitudinal loyalty – where players stay because they truly love the casino and what it represents to them – will be best achieved by offering customers rewards that are specifically suited to their activities and interests, and most importantly, something they themselves cannot – or will not – buy.

By offering something unique that competitors don’t, and by responding to their interests and what brings them back, gaming operators can create longer-term brand loyalty from their players which is paramount to the recovery process.

Anything gaming operators can do to get inside their customers’ minds will benefit casinos in the long run.

Recent advances in analytics have made gathering and applying such customer data much simpler.

More Macau casinos will need to ramp up their voice of the customer program, in which players can give direct and immediate feedback when it comes to how they feel about any particular casino.

Without understanding the various voice of the customer segments from an integrated resort’s gaming – as well as non-gaming offerings, operators could miss out on key opportunities to expand their player base and ensure repeat business.

Player analytics need to be supplemented with controlled experimentation, of course.

Experiments help operators identify which promotions work best and for which customer segments.

Another key to pulling players back in will be making sure any given casino’s servicescape is top-notch and designed with player demographics in mind.

Servicescape refers to an integrated resort’s exterior – from landscape and the casino’s exterior design all the way down to signage, parking, and of course, the surrounding environment.

It also encompasses the playing floor’s interior design and decor, slot equipment, casino signage and overall layout.

Also important to players are things like air quality, the casino’s temperature, and lighting.

Macau’s gaming operators shouldn’t underestimate the impact of the physical environment when it comes to influencing behaviours and creating an overall environment that speaks to customers, which is particularly important for integrated resorts.

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