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Gaming Meets Hospitality

The intersection of gaming and hospitality entertainment districts

Gaming Meets Hospitality

A new age of consumerism and heightened desire for authentic and meaningful experiences has the gaming industry at a crossroads.

To get ahead of the increasingly competitive entertainment and recreation landscape, the intersection of gaming and hospitality has evolved into a crucial component for the success of gaming resort property owners and developers. While gaming continues to be the leading revenue driver for casino property owners, industry research suggests a steady decline in active casino gaming nationally.

The gamification landscape has shifted, and consumers, especially Gen Z and millennials, want more.

For casino property owners and developers to reposition themselves as a premier destination for all consumers, including non-gamers, integrating various elements and attractions within as a part of a broader destination experience, and designing strategic pathways, will offer a more unique and memorable journey.

The investment in a wide variety of visitor-generating assets not only positions properties for long-term diversification, but also leads to short-term financial gains. In a recent study of California casinos completed by tourism consulting firm CSL International, consumers spend 5 percent to 10 percent more at properties that offer more options for consumers outside of gaming during the week.

Weekend gaming continues to be the highest source of revenue, but properties can activate their spaces and bolster their revenues seven days a week and year-round by expanding their asset portfolio and offering more options for all types of consumers.

Gaming properties should be designed as hospitality entertainment district environments, which Tyler Othen of CSL International describes as campus-like settings with a variety of highly engaging activities outside of gaming. Hospitality entertainment district environments serve as premier destinations that can draw consumers from hundreds of miles away, or even states away if programmed correctly.

When properties offer authentic experiences for all types of consumers, there is also an opportunity to attract and convert new consumers to casual or active gamers. Hospitality entertainment district environments offer experiences for all types of consumers. Experiences and attractions in high demand that will increase revenue across a variety of audiences include:

Skyline Observatories and Rooftop Experiences: Rooftop experiences with scenic views, restaurant, pool, or nightlife experiences are highly desired when visiting lifestyle hotels. These offerings encourage higher dwell times and spending on food and beverage. These destinations also have the flexibility to be utilized as private event spaces, which can increase ROI potential.

Authentic Food Halls and Local Breweries: Open social environments that are authentic to the community and offer space for events and performances adjacent to the gaming floors provide more casual gamers a new reason to visit and extend their stay. Casinos can partner with local breweries or restaurants to create new food and beverage offerings to appeal to the growing number of gamers and casual gamers who prefer unique and local experiences during their visit.

Immersive Attractions: Spectacular and gamified nighttime virtual experiences appeal to all visitors and provide highly interactive options for consumers to enjoy. These offerings are high-throughput, high-dwell time attractions with high per-capita revenues.

Festival Plazas: Properties with available outdoor real estate are finding ways to activate their spaces year-round to offer farmer’s markets, live entertainment, food trucks and more. Casinos can utilize this open space and expand their property to create a vibrant atmosphere that attracts all audiences.

Amphitheaters: A rising number of casinos nationally are attracting younger consumers to their districts by booking top talent and vintage acts to perform at on-site amphitheaters.

Trending Event Spaces: Instead of solely offering ballrooms and meeting rooms, casinos and event properties are designing experiential meeting centers with multi-functional furniture, interactive games, innovative audio/visual, and colorful elements to create a unique experience for event-goers.

Outdoor Adventure: For remotely located casinos, there is an opportunity to tap into the surrounding nature and capitalize on the growing demand for scenic outdoor adventures. These properties offer guests unique experiences with on-site attractions like ziplines and glamping areas, as well as hiking and biking trails.

Sportsbooks: A spacious, vibrant sportsbook area is necessary at any popular casino destination. Sports gambling serves as a key draw for casual gamers and sports fans alike, and has increased casino revenues nationally.

Experiences that draw tourism and community vary significantly by region, but what remains consistent throughout is the need for the district to tell its own unique story. Owners and developers can start by taking a deeper look into what sets their destination apart from the rest. Casinos can draw consumers in, but an ever-changing, vibrant hospitality entertainment district environment with various attractions will provide them with a sense of place, and furthermore, a reason to extend their stay.


The Journey

In partnership with Suzanne Leckert of Convergence Strategy Group, we discovered that authentic storytelling woven throughout the framework of your property is the key to providing guests with an experience they can’t find anywhere else.

The fabric woven between key attractions is what creates a truly branded destination. This story must begin upon arrival as guests enter the parking lot, and further develop as they make their way through the district. Just like a captivating book or transcendent symphony, guests want to be enticed from the start.

Designing intentional pathways throughout your district is the key to unlocking a successful consumer journey. Direct paths to an entertainment node like an amphitheater, sportsbook or plaza may seem like an obvious solution, but the goal is to invite the consumer further into the experience, leveraging as many experiences, nodes and views as possible—allowing them to choose where their adventure takes them next.

Theme parks are first-rate examples of how this approach can be successful. Multiple or circular connecting paths diversify the experience and appeal to all guests. Often, there is a primary loop and minor or secondary loops which provide guests with a variety of appealing attractions. Interjecting kinetic pieces, overlooks or entertainment elements will add to the intrigue. Hospitality entertainment district environments’ navigation to other major resort elements like hotels, convention centers and gaming offerings should be seamless from multiple access points.

The intersection of gaming and hospitality entertainment district environments is where the journey begins. By identifying what primary and secondary entertainment offerings can best suit your development and meet the demand of your target demographic, adding a localized, authentic feel to branding, storytelling and experiential offerings, and providing consumers with seamless accessibility and choices through purposefully designed pathways, casino owners and developers can maximize the guest experience and ROI.




Thomas Hoskens, FAIA, is a business development leader at DLR Group. Over the past 30 years, he has designed hospitality projects with a particular focus on mixed-use gaming, resort and entertainment destinations that anticipate the future.

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