Meet Jan Talamo, co-founder and chief creative officer for Star Group. As the lead creative strategist for the agency’s Gaming & Hospitality division (The Media & Marketing Group), he has become a bit of a non-gaming gaming industry expert, having worked on behalf of over 100 gaming properties around the world.
I pick his brain on a pretty regular basis. I thought I’d share some of his more recent insights. He inspires me daily. I hope he does the same for you as we take a peek into the world of regional casino operators and marketers.
Q: What do you see as the biggest challenge locals/regional casino operators have right now?
A: Jokingly….Not being in China. Think about it…most of these vaunted casino companies are making the lion’s share of their money in China: Wynn. LVS, MGM. Reality…jobs is the biggest threat in my mind’s eye. The uncertainty in the election. And…the lack of amenities at some smaller players. It’s becoming more about the totality of the experience. So how local operators “frame” the argument (or make their case) will make the difference. They also need to stay true to their brands. Turnover and schizophrenia at the marketing post could kill any operator. Talent is at a premium in these smaller local/regional markets.
Q: What do you think is the solution?
A: Innovation. Creativity. Empowerment. Transparency.
Let’s take them one at a time.
Innovation: Find new ways to tell your story. There are a multitude of channels to engage your audience today. Be brave. Use them, because If you don’t, your competition will.
Creativity: There is no substitute. Surround yourself with the best talent. Make sure everybody gets the strategy. Look for exciting and different ways to “frame” your message to break through.
Empowerment: Lead your customers into the digital age. If they aren’t there yet, incentivize them by creating promotions and games that they would want to be a part of IF THEY WEREN’T LUDDITES.
Transparency: Create instantaneous feedback channels with your guests. They exist. Demonstrate a willingness to hear their voice and you will have a customer for life.
Adopt these principles and you will attract better talent at the marketing post as well.
Q: What do you see on the horizon that could change the way casino marketers approach things?
A: They have to change their behavior beyond the status quo and recognize that this is a “land grab.” Small regional gaming venues are all competing for a share of the same customer’s time and wallet. And, it goes beyond just managing costs. It’s like the old Southwest Airlines story about Braniff Airlines running $13 fares to compete with Southwest’s $26 fares. Instead of cutting their costs to compete with Braniff, they kept their price….and offered any business traveler a bottle of booze to go with their ticket. Braniff (in reality a high-end carrier) eventually left the market. They deviated from their brand and their focus because Southwest caused them to. Local operators need to INNOVATE and find NEW WAYS to attract players. And…like Southwest… nothing should be off the table.
Sampling of gaming product online. Now, granted, we all have the same games. But, we need to ingratiate a new audience to these games. Walk the casino floor in AC and you see more men with cigars playing slots. But the products they are playing are the more progressive electronic gaming platforms. They like technology. Lure them in.
Finally, “Gamification” as an extension of the bricks and mortar experience is where it’s at..and more importantly…WHERE IT IS GOING. Just look at the recent IPOs for gaming companies.
Finding more ways to connect with your customers ELECTRONICALLY by offering and empowering them to be a part of this NEW AGE will not only plant seeds for the future, but attract customers you might not have today.