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Rymax Exec: Brands, Employee Engagement Keys to Gaming Success

RRN can verify that Rymax Marketing Services was one of the first master fulfillment companies to see the potential of the gaming industry. Paul Gordon, Senior Vice President of Sales, shares his perspectives on this important industry category; he says that brand-name products and employee engagement are critical to the success of player promotions. 
RRN: How and when did Rymax get into the gaming business?
Gordon: Rymax has been involved in player loyalty in the gaming business for over 20 years. When we first started there were few casinos in various geographic pockets. As we saw the growth in gaming, now in over 40 states, we created a sales team dedicated to this business. We also created a different product offering that moved away from what the casinos were doing with off-brand rewards and items with their logo. We offered aspirational brands that created a completely different program.  
RNN: Can you briefly describe how gaming engagement has changed over the years?
Gordon: The changes are related to the situation. Whether it’s a saturated or emerging market depends on whether the casino needs to initiate trial or lure people from different destinations. The “mother-in-law” research that assumes what will drive play cannot withstand the complexity of the gaming market today. Information about players is abundant and the methods for reaching the player varies based on the situation. 
RNN: How do practices today compare with practices in the past?
Gordon: Information and access to it has changed the approach to player loyalty by the casinos and access to the value of the premium shapes the perspective of the player. The formula for the spend-per-player level is better defined, and segmentation and concentration has become very important. 
RNN: What do you believe are the essential elements for success in gaming engagement? 
Gordon: There are several key elements:
Communication of the program to the players and the player hosts, front-desk personnel and all employees that interact with the players. When the employees are educated in the rewards program and have a recognition program for them that allows them to be rewarded, they become the drivers of the program.
Next, a comprehensive communication strategy needs to be used to consistently deliver the message and keep the program top-of-mind. All forms of social media and traditional media need to be deployed.
The critical piece is to make sure that the rewards are desirable and are brands that people want. The lifecycle of product and brand popularity grows shorter, so the program needs to be continuously updated.
RNN: What is the role of brands and experience in gaming promotions? Do brands and the reward experience make a difference?
Gordon: Name brands make all the difference. Today’s players are savvy about the quality of the item and the perceived value. They spend their time and money in the casinos and want recognition that mirrors their expectations for their loyalty. Also, it’s important to give them a choice so that the reward truly is aspirational. 
RNN: How and why do casinos use non-cash rewards? 
Gordon: From a profit-and-loss statement standpoint, non-cash rewards have a higher perceived value versus the actual cost. This makes the promotion more efficient in terms of reaching the player at a lower out-of-pocket cost. There’s also the trophy value of the product that cash and free-play offers can’t replicate. When the player interacts with the product it will always be associated with the casino property and that’s an additional return-on-investment. Desirable brands and products are the most effective loyalty tools from that standpoint. 
RRN: There’s talk in the industry that casinos are trying to push people away from non-cash awards toward giving them free gaming dollars.
Gordon: It is the exact opposite. Free play programs don’t differentiate the loyalty program. As markets become saturated, these programs become ineffective as they’re easy for the competition to counter. Players want an experience and a communal atmosphere in the casino. Although slot play is a solitary experience, the player wants to be a part of the gaming property. That’s why shopping sprees, play-up promotions and bulk giveaways, and year-round redemption sites are critical. Studies show that free-play programs take away from the intended spend and have no trophy value.
RNN: What do you see as some of the future trends in gaming engagement?
Gordon: Over 40 states now have casinos. It has exploded as states seek tax revenue and see the positive impact of casinos: increased casino employment equals housing growth equals increased employment in other sectors (teachers, restaurants, automotive, community infrastructure). These are all huge positives when casinos open. Now, with sports betting, we’re seeing a broader audience that can frequent casinos and use other non-gaming services. All these factors mean that casinos need to have a greater understanding of their players and a diverse rewards program. One size no longer fits all. It’s a very exciting time for the casino industry and for the loyalty and recognition business.
For More Information:
Paul Gordon
Senior Vice President of Sales

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