The casinos were still there, still filled with blinking lights and maze-like aisles of machines. The fancy restaurants still stood guard on the edges of the gambling areas. The shows still crowded the walkways with ticket-goers waiting for something special.
But there were three changes I noticed.
- Every casino had empty gaming tables. Not just one or two that they chose not to open, but whole pits of empty tables.
- Every casino had a burger joint. Not just some food court burger to grab on the go, but gourmet burgers. Expensive compared to the McDonald's experience, but a bargain compared to the $59 bone-in rib-eye.
- Every casino had a Night Club. Loud dance music pounded the casino walls, almost drowning out the cacophony of digital music from the slot machines. Oh sure, some casinos had clubs before, but that wasn't where the party was. The party was wherever someone got hot on a craps table or roulette wheel.
I remember going to Vegas in the days of the $1.99 steak dinners and $5 buffets. I remember going to Vegas when rooms were so cheap, they were almost paying you to stay. But times changed and Vegas reinvented itself into a high-priced, upscale city with Broadway shows, hundred-dollar meals, and $25-minimum tables.
Vegas is doing it again.
Gambling is down, but traffic is strong, so they are finding new ways to get the customers' money. Everyone wants to party, but not everyone wants to play, so night clubs and mid-priced restaurants are on the rise. I saw one casino where they had removed a whole section of gaming tables to put in "outside seating" for the night club. You could enjoy the music, drink and talk with your friends, and even watch the remaining gamblers.
The lesson here is simple...
If you aren't getting the customers' money the way you used to, reinvent yourself and give your customers what they want now, not what they wanted a few years ago. The smartest, most successful companies are already doing it.
PS I know some of you are going to say that Vegas has always had night clubs. You're right. but they were an after-thought behind Shows, Restaurants and Gaming in all the promotions. Now they are front and center. Now they are taking over gaming areas. Now they are top-billed on the marquee. You gotta admit that is new.