Casino embraces technology, social mediaWritten by Sarah Ottney | Managing Editor | firstname.lastname@example.org
The marketing team at Hollywood Casino Toledo likes to be ahead of the curve.
Whether it’s developing a free user-friendly mobile app, placing QR codes on slot machines so guests can track jackpots, allowing Marquee Rewards members to check their points online or generating a massive pre-opening online buzz, the focus is always on improving guest experience.
“I want people to get knowledge of our casino the simplest way, the most practical way, so they don’t have to go out of their way to get information,” said 28-year-old Eric Saliba, a multimedia designer with Penn National Gaming. “I always like to be ahead and having something out before everyone else is really cool.”
Many casinos have mobile websites, but only a few, including Toledo, have mobile apps, Saliba said.
“[Apps] are more mobile-friendly,” he said. “If it’s designed for your iPhone or iPad, it’s going to be a better experience.”
Available for both iPhone and Android, Toledo’s app was developed by Saliba in-house and has more than 7,100 downloads so far.
Penn National has expressed interest in replicating the app for its other properties, Saliba said.
“The delivery method of an app is perfect since it’s right on their phone and it’s always with them,” Saliba said. “They really liked this one. It’s in talks right now and it sounds like they are going to roll it out companywide.”
User commenting is one of the app’s most popular features, Saliba said.
“People love the comments. That’s definitely No. 1,” he said. “They comment on everything. They just like to get their voice heard, so that’s really cool.”
Users who create a free account within the app can like, comment, upload photos and more, earning points and badges for interacting.
“Right now, it’s just a set of accomplishments,” Saliba said. “It just encourages them to use our app more, but there’s potential for [rewards] in the future.”
Another popular feature is the how-to guides for table games, Saliba said.
“If you’re not sure how to play a table game you can actually go in and learn how to play, so that’s really helpful,” Saliba said. “Or if you have a question while you’re playing or if the dealer does something, you can look right in the app and make sure.”
Many gamblers appreciate being able to browse a list of available games, said Keira Finnegan, advertising and promotions manager.
“Most slot gamers are die-hard for a machine,” Finnegan said. “They call us and ask us if we have x, y or z, so this is really helpful.”
The app’s dining section allows users to make reservations, view menus and hours, browse monthly specials and more.
The entertainment section lists upcoming concerts and events.
“You can actually say you’re going to be going and can post photos and share your experiences there, so that’s pretty cool,” Saliba said.
Also available in the app is a floor map of the casino and hotel and weather information.
In mid-October, the casino installed QR codes on about 50 high-limit slot machines.
“It’s really cool. You just scan the little code and it shows the recent jackpots — anything more than $200 — won on the machine and the date and time it happened,” Saliba said. “We’ve had that planned since the beginning, but just rolled it out recently. We’re just testing it in high-limits right now and gathering feedback and if it seems to work, we’ll roll it out on all the games.”
Even though slot payouts are random, people are superstitious, Saliba said.
“It lets people judge which machine is hot, which one is a lucky one,” he said. “People will say, ‘I don’t want to sit at this one; it just paid out.’ They always want to know and they are always asking the slot attendants so now they actually can scan it and find out when it last paid out.”
Saliba said he believes Toledo is the first Penn National casino to install QR codes.
“This is the only one I’m aware of,” Saliba said. “You don’t see stuff like this popping up in the Detroit casinos. We just want to be on the cutting edge and keep our customers happy.”
The structure of the app allows room for future growth as well, including possibly adding geotargeting, a location-based marketing tool, said Marketing Operations Manager John McNamara.
“That’s one of the big reasons, when we were looking at mobile vendors, that we picked Mobile Roadie, because they had that geotargeting capability,” McNamara said. “For those who opt into receiving notifications, the app will automatically send an alert if you go within a boundary we set, to let people know, ‘Hey, you just missed us. Turn around.’”
The casino also recently started allowing its 222,000 Marquee Rewards card members to check their points online or through a link in the app. Previously, points could only be checked at kiosks on the casino floor.
“That will be helpful for people who want to see their points right now,” Saliba said.
Unlike points earned within the app, Marquee Rewards points can be redeemed at the casino for food, merchandise, slot play and more.
The marketing team built a big enough pre-opening buzz that Hollywood Casino Toledo topped Penn National casinos in number of Facebook likes before it even opened, Saliba said.
“We built the excitement really high,” Saliba said. “We did that by asking questions and encouraging people to comment and like and share our tweets. We made sure our Facebook was up-to-date way before we opened so people could check in and share, so that helped us a lot. Even the construction workers were checking in.”
Finnegan said the team is always trying to raise the bar for guests.
“We hope they gather all our information, all our promos, all our concerts,” Finnegan said. “We want guests to be able to have easy access to it since today’s world is definitely turning to social media, apps, things of that nature, and we want to be the forefront for Toledo here as a Penn property.”
For more information, visit www.hollywoodcasinotoledo.com.