Casino 2030: merging entertainment and aspiration to win customers

| By Katherine Simmons
Speakers discussed how entertainment could be key to attracting and retaining customers at ICE Vox 2023.

Creating memorable – and aspirational – experiences for customers will be critical for the future success of the gaming industry.

From girls nights’ out to culinary analogies, the International Casino Conference panel on Casino 2030 Entertainment, moderated by Stowe Shoemaker, Dean of the Harrah College of Hospitality at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, traded ideas on how the industry could make itself more attractive to existing and future customers.

The session outlined how entertainment experiences could be used within the casino offer. On the panel were Simon Thomas, Executive Chairman – Hippodrome Casino Ltd; Colin Hughes, Director, Onboard Operations, Virgin Voyages; Mark Dvorchak, Managing Partner, Pro Forma Advisors LLC and Charles Read, Managing Director of visitor attraction news source Blooloop.

Simon Thomas said that customers’ first priority was safety and, once this need had been satisfied, they wanted an experience which was aspirational. He said operators themselves needed to gamble to make casinos relevant, using a culinary analogy of adding an expensive ingredient such as truffle, to explain his point: “Sometimes you need something really expensive to make a dish really fantastic, to make the whole dish, and what we offer, exceptional.”

One of the Hippodrome’s successes has been live show Magic Mike Live. Thomas explained: “I was worried about customers drinking too much Prosecco, falling onto the gaming floor and getting in the way… I was hoping that you’d get couples coming when the men go gambling or drinking or eating. Neither happened. It’s a girls night out, but it is absolutely fantastic for Brand Hippodrome. It makes a lot of money and drives young people into building. It makes a building acceptable and accessible and that normalizes it and we’re in the mainstream press at least once a week, it gives it that talkability.”

Colin Hughes explained that Virgin Voyages will have four ships by end of the year. The cruise company focuses on end-to-end experiences within design, food and beverage and also its wellness offer. However, Hughes said the demand for the casino had increased to the point where more space was needed and attributed this to including it within the ships’ entertainment offer.

But Mark Dvorchak, Managing Partner of Pro Forma Advisors LLC, said it was important for operators not to ‘overstep’ what they were promoting. “It is important to not forget what you really are delivering – the idea of the unique gaming experience. Yes, it’s entertainment. Yes, it’s an experience. But ultimately…I would say no one actually goes out and buys an experience. They go to a theme park and then they go out to the casino. So you have to just really understand that what you’re still selling and try to evolve that.”

He added: “Las Vegas has done a really good job over the long term. People go to Vegas, they know that it’s entertainment, they know that its a resort, but fundamentally, they still know the difference that they’re going to Las Vegas because there is gambling and the things that are associated with that. For better or worse, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.”

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