10 TRENDS: ROI From IRs

Non-gaming amenities are becoming an increasingly important part of casino resorts in the face of fierce competition

With competition increasing in casino markets across the world, many of the more astute casino operators are expanding and/or repositioning their facilities to differentiate themselves from their competition to better meet the needs of their customers. These operators have realized that they must create compelling environments and engaging experiences to fully penetrate their marketplaces and improve property performance.

Globally, casino operators have utilized the phrase “integrated resort” as a catalyst to redefine the casino experience. This strategy is not new, as it has been employed in markets like Las Vegas, Singapore and Macau. However, recent developments in these markets have truly reimagined the concept.

At Wynn Palace Cotai, those that dine within SW Steakhouse’s elegant dining room are provided with a unique theatrical performance every 30 minutes. Combined, Macau features 18 Michelin star restaurants (most of which are found within Macau’s casinos). In Singapore, Marina Bay Sands utilizes iconic architectural design to bring the property to the forefront of the world’s tourism stage. MGM Cotai’s slogan, “Where Great Moments are Made,” fully encapsulates the vision behind this broader trend.

Some operators have even developed unique amenities and services to target groups of patrons within their markets. These operators have focused on tailoring their food & beverage programs, architecture, design, floor layout, game types, and even in-room amenities (e.g., providing bigger safes, dental care products, and robes/slippers in rooms) to attract certain market segments.

In Macau, operators have become increasingly sophisticated at creating products that are specifically curated for their market. Successful facilities in Macau have been designed and built in a way that adheres to the principles of feng shui and other relevant design philosophies. Colors like red and gold are utilized, as they represent good fortune and joy, while the numbers 6, 8, and 9 are often found in casinos as they are viewed to be auspicious. Multilingual dealers are recruited and trained to cater to a variety of market segments and allow customers to feel more comfortable on the casino floor.

These strategies are not unique to Macau. Globally, operators have noticed how important these strategies are in attracting new segments within their markets.

Just outside of Vancouver, River Rock Casino Resort worked to bring Sea Harbour Seafood Restaurant to their property (an authentic, award-winning Cantonese restaurant developed by chefs from Zhongshan in Guangdong Province).

In Northern California, Cache Creek Casino Resort has long targeted unique Asian demand segments in the Bay Area with a well-positioned food & beverage program, television channels that provide programming in Cantonese, Mandarin and Vietnamese, and even a website in multiple languages.

In Cambodia, NagaWorld offers an incredibly diverse mix of dining options that appeals to visitors from across Asia. They even maintain an academy that teaches foreign languages to the Cambodian employees.

At Wynn Las Vegas, the Red 8 Restaurant features a menu in which nearly every item’s price ends in 88 cents.

These strategies are not always successful, as several operators have attempted to penetrate their marketplaces by developing faux environments and experiences. Developments such as the Lucky Dragon in Las Vegas missed the mark in their attempt to attract the Chinese-American and Chinese visitor segments.

In other instances, developers have over- or under-built their facilities in an attempt to create unique and attractive experiences. Despite these attempts, operators will continue to innovate and reimagine their offerings to provide patrons with unique experiences and crafted environments in 2019.

Kit Szybala is director of research and analysis at Global Market Advisors. He can be reached at kszybala@globalmarketadvisors.com. A white paper presenting a more detailed examination of India, the Indian gaming market, and its potential can be found at globalmarketadvisors.com.