Preparing for re-opening: things to consider

Several hotel-casinos across the states in the US are re-opening this week, offering a glimpse of how the industry will recover amid social distancing.  

As your property emerges from hibernation mode, build a phased recovery plan that ramps up slowly as your casino reopens. Do this in collaboration with all relevant teams so everyone is aligned and ready to hit the ground running as a cohesive unit. 

We recommend three phases of varying lengths, determined by the date of reopening and how long it takes for the business to gain momentum: 

Re-opening. Reassure people and show what’s being done to ensure safety: thermal screenings, spacing between patrons at tables and F&B, 24/7 cleaning rotations, staff health screenings. Encourage loyalty visits with targeted packages that won’t affect price integrity. Consider full-press on loyalty, including comped rooms to get guests on property, spending money and sharing their experience on social media. Maintain a cautious marketing tone and work with sales on direct outreach to large groups/conferences. 

Ramp-up. Shift marketing to be a bit more aggressive and focus more on fun/escape messaging. Work with marketing on influencer campaigns. Work with sales on outreach to conference organizers and meeting planners, moving from the largest to the smallest opportunities.  

Recovery. Full speed ahead. Resume familiar revenue management strategies. Adjust strategies to account for any changes in segments, inbound markets, passenger demand data, or other data, such as the speed of economic recovery. 

Tactics:  

Get your marketing ready. Due to the unprecedented nature of the global health crisis, your team will need to have lots of meetings around the right tone and pace for reopening. So, start planning your marketing strategy right away! Build out your budgets, craft your re-opening promotions, draft your campaign creative and construct your channel plan. You’ll want to get eyeballs on all of these things so that they are accepted and approved far in advance of reopening. Develop plans for: 

Mass-market. Initial campaigns should focus on drive markets. So many people will be cooped up and ready to get out of the house — and yet, likely still reluctant to fly. Give them a reason to jump in the car and get back out in the world! To attract casual gamers, emphasize opportunities that give them more chances to win and more ways to play. You’ll also want to emphasize meaningful offers, such as generous point redemptions, higher levels of points earned, and bundling other on-property amenities (such as food and beverage vouchers once restaurants re-open). 

Loyalty. Your direct outreach during hibernation mode should pay dividends here. As you reopen, reach back out to those very same contacts and give them a clear plan of action for what they can expect in the weeks and months ahead. Next, refresh your menu of promotions to provide fodder for your loyalty member outreach. Then, dive into your loyalty CRM and build “we’re open for business” campaigns, personalized to each segment.  

We also suggest building two campaigns, an initial outreach campaign that tests the waters and gauges interest. If the initial campaign is less successful than expected, then launch another campaign with more aggressive offers and lucrative packages. As you build out these packages, keep in mind that they should fit within your total revenue management strategy. Even with the downturn, you want to maximize overall revenue; so carefully consider which packages correlate with which segments. 

Regional differences. If you’re working for a company with multiple casinos, be sure to create a marketing plan for each property. Even if those casinos are in the same region, there are likely nuances for your most valuable guests.   

Adjust your comp set. helpful reminder: your comp set is flexible, not static.  During the ramp-up phase, pay close attention to the marketNot everyone will be as strategic as your organization, so change your compset based on who is relevant and navigating this unprecedented re-opening phase with intelligent, precise pricing strategy. Those are the ones to benchmark!  

Monitor demand data. Create daily demand reports to share widely. These should include demand data at both the property and market level, as well as relevant data, such as passenger traffic, booking windows, comp set pricing intelligence and other travel trends. During reopening and ramp-up, this report is the “single view of the truth” to support cohesive and unified strategy.   

Account for shifted business. Flexible cancellation policies mean that many guests and events were given credits rather than refunds. You’ll need to account for this shifted business in your forecasts, as these reservations will take up space and thus affect your revenue strategy. 

Unite with your peers & community. Your peers are also hurting, as are your local communities. During the recovery effort, schedule regular virtual meetings with revenue managers from other brands, as well as local tourism organizations. Keeping those lines of communication open is essential, as it will take a group effort in the months (and possibly years) ahead to regain momentum. These lines of communication become even more important as most are working remotely. Use video conferencing to maintain that personal connection and don’t let remote work prevent deeper collaboration. 

Looking for more advice? Download our Hotel-Casino Crisis Survival Guide.  

Author
Casey Munck

Casey Munck is the Director of Marketing, Americas. In her role at Cendyn, she manages content marketing, lead generation, communications, social media and thought leadership.

Casey Munck is the Director of Marketing, Americas. In her role at Cendyn, she manages content marketing, lead generation, communications, social media and thought leadership.

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