When it comes to suppressing a dying business there really are no bad ideas. Recently there was a study to see what what would get more, different, people to Atlantic City to spend money. The winning idea was to offer comps on travel expenses.
Perhaps Atlantic City’s casinos can take a cue from a new study that found providing vouchers for travel and parking paid more back per dollar than free rooms, drinks and food.
“Many of these gamers would have visited Atlantic City anyway,” said Seul Ki Lee, assistant professor of at Temple’s School of Tourism and Hospitality Management, of gamers who received room, food and beverage vouchers. “The travel-related comps help bring new demand into the Atlantic City market, although this demand increase is not exclusive to the rewarding casino as the comps are not as binding.”
The idea of reimbursing travel expenses isn’t a new one. Parking expenses has been a gripe of many for years. Reimbursing gas and toll expenses has never been something that the casinos have offered, but this can only help – in theory.
While it makes sense on some levels for casinos to charge for parking to keep beach visitors from taking parking spaces away from gamblers, it’s also a deterrent and irritant for many.
Recent casino economics show that it’s OK to market to non-gamblers. Offering free parking to everyone would increase foot traffic into the casinos. Smart non-gaming promotions inside by restaurants and other outlets to the beach goers may be able to make some of the missing parking money back.
Casinos, however, will most likely offer actual comps to players with a track record at their casino. The ACES train service was funded by the casinos and that flopped even though many people received free tickets, vouchers or reimbursement to use it.
Perhaps the way to have a real effect is to offer these reimbursements to new players. Perhaps a new players club signup package would entice new customers to visit. Sign up for a players card and receive the following on your first TWO trips:
- Toll reimbursement (with receipt)
- 1 $25 Gas Card
- Free Parking with any amount played (No point minimums, just spend something)
Depending on the time of year and the days the casino could offer hotels and/or meals. Two trips would encourage the visitor to sign up and a return trip.
This wouldn’t be a cheap endeavor for the casinos, but the cost of acquiring new customers must be high when you’re not a destination that people plan of visiting without the freebies.
I don’t see this, or something similar, happening because it’s expensive and I don’t think the casinos that have a customer base that would be attracted to something like this would ever do it. It’s also a slippery slope if not done correctly and I don’t think an Atlantic City casino has done much correctly in 10 years.