I want to start off by mentioning this article is primarily focused at casino marketers (my background). This may be a bit too basic for you hard-core digital marketers, but I think the information and suggestions here are great for the first timer using location-based services.
In Macau specifically, we see very little use of mobile location-based services. However, there is a high use of mobile phones amongst tourists from the Mainland who come here to play. The only type of service that currently utilizes any sort of "location" aspect is the location-based SMS that is sent to tourists as they travel across the border from the Mainland. Costly and difficult to measure it's effectiveness, location-type promos seem to stop at that.
With the ridiculous growth of LBS and mobile in general, entertainment operators (read casinos) need to see this technology as a new way to reach players and reward loyalty. In a market as competitive as Macau, every consumer message counts!
How can a casino or entertainment operator utilize this service, and how can they develop a database of loyal customers? Here are a few casino-specific ideas to help get your LBS promotions rolling.
1. Pick your LBS service and claim your location: As in other social channels, you have a choice to make. Multiple LBS services exist, with Jiepang currently taking the lead and being quite similar to its Western counterpart, Foursquare. Register your venue and claim your location to begin building your profile.
2. Offer tips to customers via LBS: Utilize tips to drive a specific marketing message to customers as they check in to your venue. This could be the promotion of a new outlet, game, or any other call to action that makes sense. Customers will see this message as they check in.
3. Reward loyalty: This is where you get creative. Start offering your most loyal customers (those that check in often) rewards, special access, and other promotions. Those that become your "Mayor" or other significant title (via frequent check-ins) should be approached. Are these potential gaming customers? Are there other things you should be doing to reward them? Have a plan in place based on the type of customer and reward them for their loyalty to your establishment. This is a great way to identify potential social influencers and utilize them to further promote your venue (see #5 below).
4. Reward new customers: For the first time check-in, develop a simple promotion or incentive. Give people a reason to check in to your venue (similar to the strategy of developing a reason for people to friend you on a social network like RenRen or Facebook).
5. Access your customer's friends... and their friends! Understand who your loyal customers are online, and work with them. Develop a plan to utilize these "influencers" and tap into their social networks. Casinos do it offline all of the time; develop a similar approach for high-valued customers online through social connections. Encourage your followers to promote their checked-in status to their friends via social networks and micro blogs like Sina and Twitter.
6. Promote your services both on- and off-line: As with any social promotion, make sure your customers know you are utilizing this technology. In a place like Macau where most venues fail to realize the power of this channel, you're going to need to do some work to get people engaged. Advertise your promotions being run via LBS and get offline involved to help promote the incentives for customers who regularly "check in."
I re-emphasize that a lot of this is straightforward, 101-type information; nothing too ground-breaking here. But if you work in an industry (like gaming) where finding and developing a customer loyalty program is paramount to your success as a marketer, you may just want to take note and start to develop some of the basic services available to you via location-based service providers. This, along with other social channels, seems to be the fastest growing area with regards to digital marketing and Chinese consumers.
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Chris Wieners comes from a 10-year background in hospitality and tourism digital marketing working in the USA and Asia for companies including Starwood Hotels and the Las Vegas Sands Corporation. At Starwood Hotels, Chris worked for 18 properties across Hawaii and French Polynesia managing digital marketing campaigns including several aimed specifically at the Japanese and Korean markets. In his most recent role, Chris was responsible for over 4,000 hotel rooms across three casino resorts in Macau. Chris is currently the vice president of Hogo Digital, an organisation that specialises in helping clients reach the Chinese consumer via the digital space. For more information on Chris or Hogo Digital, check out their profiles on LinkedIn or the company website .
March 19, 2014