Why Are So Many Casinos Bulk Buying Promotional Items …

Screen Shot 2014-01-10 at 2.06.19 PMWhen giving your players a lot of choices is better for everyone?

Flashback: Atlantic City, 1984. Come to Boardwalk Casino on Saturday, November 18th, and pick up your turkey basting pan (while supplies last)!

Flashback: Las Vegas, 1994. Cordless phone Friday! First 1,500 patrons to enter the casino …

Flashback: New Mexico, 2004. It’s burger time with our George Foreman grill giveaway!

Flash-forward: Any Casino USA, 2014. Come visit us on Sunday, June 22nd, and choose a gift from a collection of …

In case you haven’t noticed, one of the most recent trends in gifting for casino event giveaways and promotions is the gift of “choice.” As we have become accustomed to in our real world purchasing endeavors, telling us what we want vs. asking us what we want or need is frowned upon (not a reference to Obamacare, but if the prescrip- tion fits …). The idea that 4,000 of your patrons can show up for a Saturday gift event and all walk away happy with another toaster oven, 49-pc. tool set, or a no-name MP3 player, has long since left the building.

Yet despite this trend, why are so many casinos still bulk buying a single widget to give away?

Purchasing people hate choice. It takes the power out of their hands to negotiate amazing deals by dangling large orders in front of vendors and may involve cutting multiple purchase orders after the event. Truth is, with such low margins on most electronics and housewares today, there isn’t much of a cost difference between purchasing 200 or 2,000 of an item.

Less thinking. It takes far less marketing time or merchandising skills to pick a single item, rather than display a number of items. Or to install web-based terminals for patrons choosing from hundreds or thousands of items, than it does to drag a bunch of pallets in to an event space, cut them open, and give the stuff away.

The reality is that the gift of choice should be embraced because it is appealing to players and event coordinators alike.

  • Despite the uncertainty of what will be redeemed, there is no worry of buying too much or too little of an item.
  • Receiving staff will love you. If you’ve never been at a loading dock when a tractor trailer of“stuff”arrives, you’ve missed some serious grinding and gnashing of teeth, not to mention some colorful language. Unloading, storing, and eventually moving dozens of pallets of these priceless gems is difficult and tedious.
  • Event staff will love you. No need for an army of events and promotions staff with box cutters to arrive at the ballroom in order to break down the pallets and master cartons, leaving behind a mound of corrugated cardboard, shrink wrap, and shipping pieces, not to mention a few cuts and lots of dry hands!
  • • Most importantly, patrons love it! Instead of gambling on that 1 in 20 chance you’ll give them something they need, you are ensuring that they will choose something they want.    This item is not likely to be regifted, and will linger around the house providing “trophy value” for the recipient.

    The last thing you want your patrons to think is that they got stuck with a purchasing department’s closeout opportunity of the month from some shady product source. We’ve seen this stuff end up being refurbished goods, having scratched out retail tags on it (or worse, they are still there showing how they were marked down to half of their initial value!), in damaged packaging, etc. And most importantly, avoid no-name brands! We are a brand-conscious society, and offering patrons well-known brand choices will leave a better taste in their mouths and feeling more valued than no-name knock-offs will.

    To bulk ship or drop ship? Execution of gift events where choice is involved can get tricky. Ideally, you choose a vendor that can drop ship to the patrons’ homes, adding more value to their casino experience. This makes more sense as the value of an item increases. My gen- eral rule of thumb is that if the individual drop shipping charges exceed 20% of the value of the item (this typically happens at around $50), then drop shipping is not the most cost-effective way to go.

    Many clients want to offer choice and drive a second trip. In this scenario, the vendor would coordinate the order- ing from the event and ship in bulk back to the casino for patron pick-up. This even allows for the opportunity for individual gift wrapping, as was the case for a recent “Pick a Purse Party” at a Midwest casino. And for those casinos near the Canadian border, this is a cost-effective way

    to let your patrons from north of the border participate in your giveaways. Freight duty and taxes for a U.S. to Canada drop shipment are cost-prohibitive.

    So, get your merchandising hats on, or bring in those of that persuasion, and display a number of exciting gifts for

    your next giveaway. Better yet, create a cyber café with comfortable chairs and web portals in the event space where patrons can sit down and choose from dozens or hundreds of items at a product picking site in the budgeted price point. Now that’s a choice event!

    Written for the 2014 Raving Magazine www.ravingconsulting.com

    Gary Galonek


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