Azam Husain wants to make it easier for casinos to reward loyal patrons with valuable gifts to show appreciation and encourage more visits. He also has an incentive for casinos: a new way to reward uncarded bettors and motivate them to join the loyalty program.
Both involve the concept of “continuity gifting,” the practice of offering non-gaming rewards, such as crockpots and luggage, to players in hopes of coaxing additional visits and playing time.
“These programs work really, really well,” said Husain, founder of the gaming-analytics company Casino Science and of InfiGifts, an offshoot started in June of this year. Marketing studies show U.S.-based casinos spend as much as $2 billion a year on gift programs, he said.
While successful, continuity gifting presents “enormous operational challenges” for casinos, he said. Those include having to plan and pay for gifts up to a year in advance, incurring storage costs, and paying for extra staff on giveaway days. In addition, customers often have to wait in lines at kiosks, giveaway stations, or both, meaning they’re not playing, which was the point of getting them in the door. Plus, operators have limited options for providing higher-value gifts for higher-value play.
Husain said InfiGifts is designed to relieve those headaches by converting an operator’s continuity-gifting program into a type of online shopping experience. Casinos can determine which players are eligible for a giveaway and select various awards from a network of suppliers working with InfiGifts. Players use the InfiGifts app to choose from a handful of gift options available in various colors or sizes and the gift gets delivered to the player’s home via shippers such as FedEx, UPS, or DHL. A geofencing component within the app ensures that the player is on casino property to claim the gift. The player can complete the selection and ordering in less than a minute. The InfiGifts app offers package tracking and customer support, including returns of damaged items.
“You get your gift, but the way you get it and track it is different,” Husain said. Operators pay only for the gifts that are claimed and don’t have to shoulder the storage or staffing costs of traditional gifting programs, he added.
The InfiGifts approach also allows casinos to target additional segments of their player databases. “In traditional continuity gifting, you’re not able to provide tiered rewards to everyone. You’re only going to be doing it for a very narrow part of your player database,” Husain said, adding that gifts tend to skew toward older slot players and women.
For casinos hoping to attract a younger demographic, “offering just crockpots in black doesn’t cut it,” he said. “You have to offer different types of gifts to incentivize them to make that trip (to the casino).” That could include humidors, golf accessories, fishing poles, and hosts of other items.
He said continuity gifting differs from the free-play and food and room comps that almost all casinos offer. “You need to have something that makes you stand out,” he said. “We’re trying to get the player to make incremental trips.”
InfiGifts is working with TransAct Technologies, one of the top two providers of printing equipment in the gaming industry, on a method to reward uncarded players with a gift upon reaching a specified level of play. Tracey Chernay, TransAct’s senior vice president for global casino, gaming and lottery, sees a “lot of potential” as InfiGifts and TransAct work together. TransAct’s Epicentral software suite prints offers and notifications for players while they play, including food and beverage deals and information about upcoming events and entertainment.
Husain said that under InfiGifts’ arrangement with TransAct, uncarded players could receive a TITO ticket with a QR code for a gift. Players scan the code with a smartphone and are prompted to provide their name and contact details to claim the gift. He expects the InfiGifts-TransAct option to be available by the end of the year.
Depending on the casino, uncarded players can account for 40-60 percent of the action on a gaming floor. Getting a gift, despite not having a loyalty card, is a great experience for the player, Husain said, “but it’s also valuable data for the casino; now they’ve just captured that player.”