Affinity Gaming is one of the industry’s best-kept secrets. With properties in Nevada and several other states, Affinity is using unique marketing techniques to attract customers to its diverse casinos. Vincent Lentini, chief marketing officer and senior vice president, explains how the company uses the latest technology combined with unmatched customer service to create loyalty among its players. He spoke with GGB Publisher Roger Gros at the Affinity offices in Las Vegas in January.
GGB: Affinity Gaming has so many diverse properties: destination resorts in Primm, Nevada; a convention/locals casino in Las Vegas; locals casinos in Reno and several Midwest states. Is there an overarching marketing philosophy for all?
Vincent Lentini: To understand our properties over the last three years has been a journey, which involved fixing the properties on the marketing reinvestment side. When I first arrived, we had properties that were giving 110 percent in marketing reinvestment. We had to change that, and that was very painful for customers and for employees. They didn’t understand why we were doing it. But now in our third year of a new management team, we’ve completed that task. So we’re calling 2018 our pivot year, which means we’re going to focus on quality, value and experience for all of our guests, no matter what property you visit.
How do you segment the properties?
This is going to be a property-by-property approach. We’re going through a brand-positioning exercise at Silver Sevens (the Las Vegas property) and Rail City, our Reno property. For the first time, we’re going through consumer insights and brand development hypotheses, and they test that to set up a framework of what it means for these properties for value and quality for our customers. It’s pretty exciting, and we’ll be doing this for all our properties, but will approach each of them differently.
Marketing a property used to be relatively straightforward focusing around advertising and direct mail. What has changed in today’s world?
What has changed for us is our reliance on technology. This year, we’re building a data warehouse that will allow us to give specific offers to specific customers based on their preferences and what they play. We’ve created CRM technologies such as pinging cell phones to send a host out to greet a customer who hasn’t been there in 90 days, for example. We’re moving casino hosts to a more sales-oriented experience where we try to discover how we can extend the stay, convert more trips, or to simply thank them for being there at each stage of their trip.
What is some of the technology that has really performed for you?
We’re lucky because early on in our tenure, we brought in Duetto, and as soon as we plugged it onto the cash side of the business, we saw a 30 percent increase in our cash revenue. We have a motto here: “You can’t beat the machine.” So as a yield manager, the computer program and the machine are always going to be more perfect in the pricing strategy than we could do on our own. And now that Agilysys and Duetto are integrated with our booking engines, we make sure we take advantage of all the technology they have available.
How effective is social media?
It’s pretty important now and becoming more important within our demographic, which is mostly 55-year-old female slot players. Facebook is huge. It gives us the opportunity to interact with our customers at a level which is unprecedented in the marketing world. We use Facebook Custom Audience to go after specific entertainment acts that we have at Primm. For example, we target everyone who likes Styx. And oh, by the way, Styx is at Primm sometime in 2018. It’s an incredibly powerful tool that allows us to target a great but specific market.