The president of Resorts World Las Vegas said casino properties need to offer more incentives to lure additional customers in this COVID-19 era and outlined how his property is taking a different approach to reward loyal customers when the $4.3-billion 3,500-room property opens in the summer of 2021.
Scott Sibella, the ex-president of MGM Grand, told an online audience Thursday at the ICE North America conference that he and his staff are excited to open the newest integrated resort in a decade and that it “will be something special to the city of Las Vegas.”
Sibella said what’s happening in Las Vegas since the June 4 reopening is the “loyalty casino customer” is returning, and the next phase will be the “leisure drive-in customer” from Southern California. He said it’s important to be transparent with customers and let them know what to expect when they arrive, and the city has done a good job with that.
“The casino customer will accept things that aren’t the way they used to be and that some things are closed as long as the casino is open,” Sibella said. “I think the properties today are going to have to give some great incentives to get the customers to come in. Hopefully, it is with creative soft-cost giveaways and incentives and staying away from hard costs. We don’t want to get into the premium customer when we’re doing discounts and heavy promotions.”
Sibella said Resorts World is taking a different approach to rewarding customers than has been traditional in Las Vegas. Instead of having a player loyalty base, Resorts World will have a guest loyalty base. “I think it’s important that all segments have some type of loyal base and not just casino customers. It’s about the guest loyalty base and making it meaningful and feel like value and recognition.”
Sibella talked about how gaming revenue in Las Vegas has become a lower percentage of total revenue every year and that trend will continue. “Non-gaming revenue has taken off in Las Vegas and we think it’s important to take advantage of it and treat those customers the same way we treat our gaming customers. We’re taking a different approach to this. Although the gaming customer will always be important to us, we want everybody to have some type of loyalty and get incentives to come to Resorts World. And it has to be meaningful.”
Sibella said he hopes COVID-19 is no longer an issue when Resorts World opens next summer, but his staff is preparing in case it is. It’s easier to make adjustments before the property opens and the biggest focus is air quality. It’s a priority to have the best air quality, not only in the casino, but in the rooms as well.
Resorts World’s casino design has barrel-shaped ceilings and doesn’t have covers over table game areas and can easily add table pits and move slot machines around, Sibella said.
“Healthy and safety—everyone is going to look at those, even when we get through this,” Sibella said. “We’re looking at how we can make this property the safest, or as good or better than anybody. It’s a lot easier to do with something that’s not open yet and make it the safest place to walk into.”
Sibella said it’s important that customers know when they come to Las Vegas that safety is important. He didn’t provide any details, but technology can help with that. “We talk about technology, but this industry isn’t known for technology,” he said. “We’re trying to make this property all about technology and innovation. We want the guest journey to be like no other, from the time they make a reservation. We want to know our customer and talk to them differently.”
Convention business has been hit the hardest by COVID-19 with limits on the size of gatherings today at 50, which many aren’t expecting to change soon. Even the Global Gaming Expo scheduled for October was canceled. Other conventions are expected to follow throughout 2020 and possibly into 2021.
“We’re learning we have to be very flexible and transparent with group planners,” Sibella said. “Some incentives may be needed, but what’s important is it’s going to be based on safety concerns and if there are any government guidelines going forward. When it does come back, it will be a different world with what attendees are looking for when they go to these conferences. Safety will be a top priority over everything. We’re hoping we get through this and the groups start coming back next year. We built some big boxes here also and when you build these big rooms, they’re not meant for 50 percent occupancy. They’re built for the masses. We’re watching closely and will follow it and make our decision on how we are going to react to what’s happening in today’s world.”