Vibrant, dynamic, fun and interactive.
As casinos continue to broaden their repertoire of non-gaming amenities, those are the attributes that such amenities must possess moving forward, if they aspire to stay relevant in a more competitive marketplace.
“Whatever you design, it needs to be high energy, social and it has to be able to attract different socioeconomic groups,” Joe Scibetta, vice president of development and operations at Rush Street Gaming, said during a recent webinar on the subject hosted by The Innovation Group.
In just a generation, non-gambling offerings have advanced from rudimentary buffets and lounge act entertainment to celebrity chef restaurants and extravagant shows like Cirque de Soleil.
That evolution shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon.
In five to ten years, panelists on the webinar predicted, attractions like TopGolf, bowling and marketplace-style dining areas that offer different flavors and can slice through traditional demographic boundaries will be imperative for attracting new customers and capturing more wallet share from existing customers.
But while it’s clear that casinos need amenities, it’s not as easy as just slapping a Starbucks and a millennial area onto your property and calling yourself an integrated resort.
Tom Wucherer, principal at YWS Design and Architecture in Las Vegas, said that more market-specific calculus – and a solid grasp of what one’s customers are looking for – is required to determine which amenities are the best fit at a particular property.
“It’s really about understanding what regional tastes are and creating venues for it,” he explained. “One client we had went down the path of over-designing a high-end resort that wouldn’t have gotten the customers they wanted because the clientele didn’t want that level of sophistication.”
It’s also not as easy as just copying tit-for-tat what successful casinos in southern Nevada are doing, either.
“Some casinos have tried to emulate facilities here in Vegas,” Wucherer continued. “Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn’t work, because of the competition and because of the volume.”
Scibetta said that the Hugo’s Chop House location at Rush Street’s property in Des Plaines, Illinois is an example of a restaurant that has performed well because of its strong regional appeal.
“Its loyal following in Chicago has been a reason for its success,” he said. “So it’s a mix of trying to figure out what works within the four walls outside of Las Vegas and Atlantic City.”
Giving customers enough options to build their own experience by trying different things is also a resounding trend.
“One thing we’re hearing on a regular basis is ‘We want choice,’” said Scibetta.
“The goal is to generate those social moments so your customers are generating your buzz for you,” added Wucherer.
Amenities like TopGolf, the panelists suggested, check all of those boxes and offer an intriguing appeal to a wide array of customer segments.
“The advantage that a venue like TopGolf has it that, yes it’s golf, but to somebody who isn’t a golf person, there’s enough entertainment there to make it fun,” Wucherer explained.
“Does that mean that you put one in the middle of a rural environment in a tribal casino? Probably not, because there’s not enough draw there.”