Maximizing Non-Gaming Casino Revenue

By Mark Tapling President & CEO, InfoGenesis | October 28, 2008

Non-gaming casino revenue was once considered an oxymoron. In today's industry though, it has become a vital part of most casino operator financial reports. In fact, some top players in the industry have indicated non-gaming revenue accounts for 50% or more of total revenue.

Less visible to many in the hospitality industry is the important role that technology can play in maximizing non-gaming revenue. Certainly some of the standbys of technology value like flexibility, scalability, and reliability contribute. But they represent a small part of a bigger story. It is the guest-centric and integrated nature of present and future technology that will allow non-gaming casino revenue to reach its potential.

What's Happened in the Industry

As casino resorts and hotels have matured, evolved and segued into the luxury segment, non-gaming aspects of these operations have taken on stand-alone significance. Hotel rooms in Las Vegas, Atlantic City and other gaming destinations were once "comped" for many players or available at reduced rates. These rooms now command some of the highest average daily rates in the industry.

There have been changes in other areas as well. Investments in celebrity chefs and high-end restaurants to achieve a competitive edge have consequently demanded more than "respectable" bottom line results. Retail operations-far from the t-shirt and sundry shops of days past-carry designer names and, in some cases, achieve shopping mall size. World-class spa operations and entertainment venues are attractions in and of themselves as casinos have turned into full-fledged destination resorts. On the global stage, an explosion of gaming resorts in Macau and other exotic international locations have underscored the size and complexity of this rapidly expanding industry.

Of course there's a pattern here-a steady march towards better services, creating a destination for guests who increasingly participate in their own travel planning, and retaining guest dollars rather than seeing them go somewhere else. It's been an exciting and natural evolution. But by no means is the industry done changing. The next evolution will be a little more subtle in established markets, but no less important.

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Revenue Management: Getting it Right

Revenue Management has evolved into an indispensable area of hotel operations, chiefly responsible for setting forecasting and pricing strategies. Because the profession is relatively new to the hotel and hospitality industries, a clear-cut definition of what exactly Hotel Revenue Management is has only recently emerged - Selling the Right Room to the Right Client at the Right Moment at the Right Price on the Right Distribution Channel with the best commission efficiency. Though the profession can be summed up in a single sentence, that doesn't mean it's easy. In fact, it's an incredibly complicated and complex endeavor, relying on mountains of data from a wide range of sources that must be analyzed and interpreted in order to formulate concrete pricing strategies. To accomplish this, Revenue Managers rely on an array of sophisticated technology systems and software tools that generate a multitude of reports that are central to effective decision-making. As valuable as these current technology systems are, much of the information that's collected is based on past historical trends and performance. What's new is the coming of big, data-driven, predictive software and analytics, which is likely to be a game-changer for Revenue Managers. The software has the capacity to analyze all the relevant data and predict occupancy levels and room rates, maximizing hotel profitability in the process. Another new trend that some larger hotel chains are embracing is an emphasis on Booking Direct. For Revenue Managers, this is another new channel with its own sales and costs that have to be figured into the mix. The October issue of the Hotel Business Review will address these developments and document how some leading hotels are executing their revenue management strategies.