Millions of people from around the world come to Las Vegas to experience the city’s one-of-a-kind attractions and atmosphere. And they keep coming back, time after time. It’s not just because Vegas has that special je ne sais quoi-in Sin City, attracting visitors and keeping them there has been honed to a veritable art form. Here, author Jay Rankin reveals some common strategies Vegas hotels and casinos use to maximize profit and guests’ goodwill.
That “casino cachet” is calculated-right down to the carpet color. Nothing about a casino-its layout, its color scheme, its music, the placement of its staff-is left to chance. The patterned carpets, alluring noises, and lighting are designed to keep the senses stimulated. And heaven forbid that “unlucky number 13” makes an appearance! You won’t find it anywhere-not on room numbers, and certainly not a 13th floor.
“Hotels especially are experts in the science of human behavior,” notes Rankin. “They are masterful at playing into the ego, at making each guest feel as though he or she is special and different from everyone else. While a bellman might say, ‘I know you’re new in town; let me recommend a restaurant,’ what he’s really communicating is, ‘Tip me!'”
Big Brother is watching you play blackjack. It’s not as far-fetched as it sounds. In Vegas, you’re always being watched, whether you’re on camera, being tracked electronically, or being monitored by a dealer in a live game. Casinos’ surveillance cameras are very high-tech-so much so that they can count your eyelashes. So if there is sleight of hand going on in a game, it will be noticed.
Also, when you gamble, you are given a player’s club card. This enables casinos to see how long you gamble, what your games of choice are, and how much you’re betting. If you’re a high enough roller, you’ll be targeted for special treatment-after all, the last thing the casino wants is for you to walk out the door! You might also be researched by other casinos who are hoping to woo you to a new “home” on the strip. It’s a constantly evolving science of how to keep players at each hotel. The more you play, the more they pay. You probably know high rollers get the royal treatment. But the truth is, more moderate gambling is rewarded. Casinos track guests through their player’s club cards, and if you play enough, you can earn a free meal, or even a free room for the night! If you’re winning, you’ll be approached with these offers. If you’re losing, though, it’s your responsibility to go to
the office and ask whether or not you qualify for any perks.
“Incidentally, casinos would rather you play a $1 slot machine for four hours than a $100 slot machine for five minutes,” notes Rankin. “You have to realize that 40 to 50 percent of their revenue doesn’t come from gambling but from shopping, dining, lodging, and so forth. The name of the game is to keep you on the premises as long as possible.”
Slot machines are meant to mesmerize. In high-end casinos, you can be sure that you’re using a state-of-the-art slot machine. Casino managers work to make sure that their establishments’ machines are as enticing as possible, with moving images and unique sounds. Some slot machines even talk to you! What you might not know is that these flashiest machines probably don’t pay as well. Regardless, casinos are betting you’ll be drawn to them because you like what they do.
“People truly get addicted to the lights and the noise,” says Rankin. “They will sit there for hours feeding money into a machine. It’s kind of like watching a movie.
“Casinos also watch the traffic patterns of their guests, and relocate their most lucrative machines accordingly,” adds Rankin. “It’s just like a retail setting: It pays to move the merchandise. The highest-payout machines are placed near walkways and registration areas, closest to the highest concentrations of guests. So some machines really do pay better than others-but if you’re looking to win, you might want to avoid the strip altogether. Machines in local casinos aren’t as tight.”
As the sun goes down, the bets go up. Although most visitors never notice, the minimum bet at the same blackjack table isn’t the same during the day as it is at night. The table might start at $1 while the strip is sunny, but that amount will rise to $5 as the afternoon wears on, and then to $10 at night. Casinos know that their clientele is changing-families are going to shows and eventually to bed, while more serious gamblers are just coming out.
Once your butt’s in a seat, they’ll do anything to keep it there. Once you’re sitting down, the casino wants you to stay there, and so do individual employees! Cocktail waitresses vie for certain areas of the floor, and they’ll bring you drinks as long as you’re sitting at a machine. And not only that-they’ll give you “hints” to keep you there, drinking and tipping.
“A waitress might say, ‘This machine has hit the jackpot twice in two weeks; it’s been so long it’s gotta be due again,'” says Rankin. “Never mind the fact that-scientifically-there’s no way to predict when a machine will or won’t hit.”
About the Author:
Jay Rankin didn’t research Las Vegas; he lived it. His six years as an MGM Grand doorman gave him the insider’s view of real Vegas life, the grit behind the glitz. Jay reveals a Vegas few people know exists. Jay hosted a weekly television show, Las Vegas Business Week. That media experience and his connections won him the ambassador’s job out of 1,500 applicants. Jay holds an advanced degree in psychology. He began writing in 1993 and is currently working on his second book, about his life after escaping Vegas. He resides in Los Angeles, California.
For more information or to read Chapter 1 of Under the Neon Sky, visit www.jayslasvegas.com.
About the Book:
Under the Neon Sky: A Las Vegas Doorman’s Story (Jay Rankin Publishing, 2009, ISBN: 0984210911) is available at bookstores nationwide and from major online booksellers.
* For a review copy of Under the Neon Sky or an interview with Jay Rankin, please contact Dottie DeHart, DeHart & Company Public Relations, at (828) 325-4966..