Click (or clip) this: Coupons pay off for casinos, customersMark Gruetze, CDC Gaming Reports · May 23, 2018 at 9:59 pm(One in a series)Frequent Las Vegas visitors Laurine Cox of San Diego and Frank Weston of Berlin, Conn., know a good deal when they see one.So do the marketing crews at the Plaza Hotel & Casino and nearly all its Downtown Las Vegas brethren. Ditto with the Strip and near-Strip properties as different as Caesars Palace and Ellis Island, as well as the dozens of neighborhood casinos, including those operated by Station Casinos and Boyd Gaming.In this case, the good deal is the same for players and casinos: coupons offering food and show discounts, table game match-plays, slot free play or a variety of other inducements to visit.For customers, coupons save money on purchases and give them a chance to win a little extra at gambling. For casinos, coupons can increase visitor traffic at virtually no cost, giving the facility the opportunity to reap additional revenue and generate a little good will in the face of rising costs and fees.Cox, who owns two Las Vegas timeshares with her husband and recently returned from a Las Vegas trip with five other family members, said coupons “allowed us to do things that we normally would not have done,” including taking the two grandchildren to a magic show and all six eating at several expansive casino buffets.Weston, who recently returned from Las Vegas with his wife and plans another trip in the fall, said he uses coupons more for fun than for economy. He enjoys Las Vegas because it offers a chance to “gamble with an edge, eat at a wide variety of excellent ethnic restaurants, and find almost nightly entertainment.”Plaza spokeswoman Amy Maier said the coupon program “gives the property exposure to players that might not visit or know about the resort and what it has to offer. Overall, the Plaza has found offering these promotions has been an effective means to raise brand awareness and attract new customers.”Anthony Curtis, publisher of the Las Vegas Advisor website and monthly newsletter, compiles the best Las Vegas coupon package: 128 printed coupons, each good for one use during a calendar year, plus a dozen or so online offers available for briefer periods. The book is available only to Advisor members; a one-year membership costs $37 or $50, depending on receiving the newsletter online or as a 16-page hard copy. Many offers are unique to the Advisor, and certain individual coupons more than cover the $37 cost. Las Vegas Advisor has roughly 15,000 members.Another coupon source is the annual “American Casino Guide,” published by Steve Bourie and his son Matt. The guide currently sells for $13 online and at traditional bookstores. The guide provides details about casino/resorts, riverboats, and tribal casinos across the country and includes discount offers in multiple states.In an interview, Curtis said the Las Vegas Advisor package brings casinos “the right kind of customers.” He said subscribers spend more and stay longer in Las Vegas than typical visitors.The 2017 Visitor Profile Study, authored by GLS Research for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, found visitors stay an average of 3.5 nights and those who gambled had an average gambling budget of $541. Curtis said Las Vegas Advisor subscribers are almost triple those figures, staying close to nine nights per visit and having an average gambling budget of around $1,500. Subscribers also tend to visit four or five times per year, compared with the 1.5 average for repeat visitors in the LVCVA study.“We’re getting middle (class), upper-middle, lower-high, people who spend a lot of dough when they come here,” Curtis said. “If they don’t have a lot of money, they’re not going to spend $37 for a membership.”Cox, who describes herself and her husband as “not whales but not cheap people,” said they occasionally play at the Wynn, Venetian and other casinos that don’t offer coupons. But they don’t stay in those resorts very long and won’t spend money at their restaurants or gift shops.Casinos that impose parking and resort fees, but refuse to offer discounts, send a message that they’re “not really pro-customer,” she said.“They think they’re good enough to get you in the door without offering any incentives unless you are a big gambler,” Cox said. “I’m not going to be, because quite often they won’t even get me in the door.”Conversely, casinos that offer incentives “go the extra mile to get your business and get your money,” Cox said. “I am much more willing, if someone is willing to work with me and give me a benefit, to patronize these establishments.”Cox and Weston are Baby Boomers, the generation that for years has provided the most casino customers. She is 63, a retired police dispatcher. He is 74, a retired field office supervisor with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.While advertisements and comedy skits mock the image of an older person fumbling for a coupon, millennial shoppers are more likely to use coupon while shopping for consumer goods, according to the 2K18 Coupon Intelligence Report by the marketing company Valassis. The company has subsidiaries that provide coupons nationwide for groceries, restaurants and consumer products.Valassis found 50 percent of millennial shoppers always, or very often, use coupons, compared with 45 percent of the population.“Coupons in a book are passé for millennials,” Curtis said. “Coupons online or coupons mobile, they use them like crazy.” The Advisor plans to expand its coupon book by adding casino offers from outside Las Vegas and by providing more discounts over phones and mobile devices.“It’s a matter of the casinos getting up to date,” he said. “If they want millennials, then they’ve got to get mobile.”He has a simple answer for the best types of coupons: Money and food.“Give them a match play or some free play and give them a twofer for the buffet, and you’ve got them. They’re there all night,” Curtin said. “It’s human nature, man.”Frank Kroger, vice president of client marketing for Valassis, said diners at full-service restaurants, like those in casinos, often choose where to eat based on a coupon offer.“Coupons drive traffic, including traffic to restaurants within a casino,” he said in an email. “They bring valuable consumers. More traffic driven to a casino location is a good start. Giving consumers another reason to consider coming to the location (i.e., taking advantage of the gambling, entertainment and restaurants) will increase opportunities for future visits.”Kroger added, “Additionally, coupon savings from a restaurant located inside a casino offer (customers) the opportunity to spend in other areas – gambling, entertainment, lodging.”Operators should track their coupon offers and how they’re used to ensure they get their best return on their investment, he advised.Curtis describes the Advisor’s coupon program, which started in the early 1990s, as “a marketing tool that works very, very well for casinos.” The proof is in the book, which maintains its variety and customer value year after year.“When you look at the list of (casinos) and at the level of what they’re offering,” he said, “they’re not doing it because it doesn’t work.”Coming Friday: Las Vegas Advisor to expand coupon offerings nationwide.