Archive for the writing Category

G2E on the move in V7

It’s a busy week, but I still had time for a Vegas Seven column about G2E moving:

Over the course of a week, Las Vegas hosts conventions and trade expos for industries from baking to sheet metal. So it’s not surprising that the world’s premier casino industry trade show, the Global Gaming Expo, is held here each fall. A recently announced change of venue for the convention highlights the important role the meeting plays in the national casino landscape.

via Gaming show finds a new home | Vegas Seven.

It’s a huge show, and I agree that the move will reinvigorate it. For now I’m going to enjoy G2E’s swansong at the LV Convention Center. Look for me to cover this in greater depth as we get there. I’m planning to pick out one, and perhaps two, stories to focus on, which will trade clarity on a single subject for a more comprehensive view. I figure that since the dailies will be doing the big picture stories, I can use my column to zero in on a single subject that might otherwise be neglected.

Look at quarterlies in LVBP

I’ve got another LVBP column up, in which I discuss whether looking at Nevada’s gaming numbers by quarters can yield any insights:

The financial quarter is a handy time measure for evaluating the Nevada gaming industry’s recessionary progress. Three months is long enough to absorb monthly volatilities, but not as long as a year. Looking at how different areas of the state have fared over the past three years may be the best way to forecast what will happen over the next three years.

via Las Vegas Business Press :: David G. Schwartz : Strip offers hope for recession-weary Nevada.

No matter which way you slice it, Las Vegas just isn’t looking very good right now. As much as I pooh-poohed analysts who offered sunnier outlooks earlier in the year, they might have been right in the short term, though it’s possible that we’re headed back down.

It’s really hard to use history to handicap the near future, but looking at these quarterly results really demonstrates the magnitude of the recession.

Recession luxe in Vegas Seven

This week’s Green Felt Journal is out–I talk a bit about marketing luxury properties during a recession. From Vegas Seven, as usual:

The laws of supply and demand aren’t sentimental, particularly when it comes to hotel rooms. No matter what kind of rate a suite might have gotten in the past, when there are more beds than bodies to fill them, the room rate will go down. But when running a luxury property, there are concerns beyond just filling rooms tonight: Long-term position of the hotel’s “brand” can make price-cutting a double-edged sword.

via Selling luxury in the Great Recession | Vegas Seven.

It’s been a busy week around here, which explains the fewer blog posts. I wanted to talk a bit about Bill Zender’s bacc protection seminar, which was profiled in the LV Sun. Some positive news is that instead of just doing a blog post about the kids unattended in cars thing, I’m writing a Vegas Seven article about it. I’ve already talked to Jerry Markling with the Gaming Control Board and look forward to talking with a few other people.

I also am working on a few work projects that I might talk about here, time permitting.

Casino Facebook games in Vegas Seven

At last I’m able to update my blog–it’s been a very busy day. I wanted to do a win/slot analysis to address the “fewer slot machines, but they have more games so it’s OK” idea, but that’s going to have to wait. Instead, read about my latest Vegas Seven column, which covers casinos breaking into the social games market:

Casinos in Las Vegas have been marketing through social media for some time now, mostly via Facebook and Twitter. Recently, however, two Las Vegas-based casino companies have taken their investment in social media to another level with Facebook applications.Facebook allows third-party developers to create applications, or apps, that users can access through their Facebook pages. Social games are some of the most popular apps available. Unlike sites that offer play-for-free or play-for-cash, these games require no download and can be played in a standard Web browser. By definition, they allow players to invite friends to join games and compete in friendly competitions.

via Casinos now playing Facebook games | Vegas Seven.

I played both games, and found the casino-builder to definitely require more attention as you play–no replying to emails in another tab while you play it.

This is probably going to be a big growth area, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see casinos big and small partnering with game developers.

Not a happy June in the LVBP

My latest Las Vegas Business Press column is out, in which I dissect the June Nevada numbers:

The June results are in, and whatever the national economic picture, one thing is certain: Nevada gaming remains moribund. The figures released by the Gaming Control Board aren’t much cause for optimism, though things look a little better for Southern Nevada than for the north.

via Las Vegas Business Press :: David G. Schwartz : Latest data provide little optimism for gaming.

Basically, even without the incredibly low bacc hold on the Strip, it wasn’t a good month for the state, as slot handle continues to fall and table handle is mostly kept afloat by high levels of bacc play, play which happens in maybe a dozen casinos. But even if the bacc hold percentage had been more in the house’s favor, it still probably would have been a flat month.

Also, an interesting article in the LV Sun about the decreasing number of slots in Nevada, something I’ve written about. I’ve got one question: if it’s just a matter of having more games on each slot, why has the statewide win per slot only inched up slightly ($108.76 vs. $110.04) since 2004? The total win is declining in addition to the total number of slots, so each slot is doing about the same about of “work” it was six years ago, multiple games or not. Sure, the counter-argument is that revenues would have declined more without the game menus, but still, there hasn’t been a real increase in per-machine revenue generation yet.

Creative El Cortez in Vegas Seven

It’s Thursday, so you’ve got more Vegas Seven goodness to read. This week, my contribution is a look into the El Cortez’s Design-a-Suite-Downtown competition:

Most casino executives view renovating hotel rooms as a necessary but disagreeable process. Room remodels are doubly expensive—they pull rooms out of the rental pool and incur labor and materials costs. It’s easy to see why few property owners look forward to them.The El Cortez, however, has found a way to use the renovation process to put the spotlight on itself and four Nevada design teams via its Design-a-Suite Downtown competition, showing again how it’s carving its own niche on Sixth and Fremont streets.

via El Cortez gets creative with design competition | Vegas Seven.

I think that what the El Cortez is going deserves notice. Between Emergency Arts, the Cabana Suites, and this, they’ve really done a lot of interesting things. It’s ironic that one of the most “old school” casinos–with coin-pay slots, no less–is also one of the most innovative. Or perhaps it’s not…

LLAP in V7

It’s Thursday, so the new Green Felt Journal is up at last:my weekend at the Star Trek convention, condensed to about 760 words, for Vegas Seven:

Anthony and Deidre Flood Jenkins are about to have the moment of a lifetime. Pavilion Room 4 at the Las Vegas Hilton might seem a funny place for this, but that’s where George Takei and Walter Koenig—who played Sulu and Chekov, respectively, in the original Star Trek—are taking pictures with fans. Anthony, who watched the show in its original run, is a bookseller; Deidre is a schoolteacher. Takei’s unmistakable baritone carries all the way through the line. The Jenkinses are about to meet their heroes.

via Trekkies teach Vegas how to live long and prosper | Vegas Seven.

Please click through and read it–this one was a lot of fun to research and very difficult to write. There were at least a dozen stories that I could have told, but this one–what we can learn from what goes on at the convention–seemed the most appropriate to the audience. Talking to Scott MacDonald and Randy Oglesby, the underlying truth of what they were saying dawned on me: this isn’t what we planned for, but this is great. It seemed that was an attitude we could use more of in Las Vegas today.

I’d like to thank everyone who talked with me over the weekend for sharing their insights and experiences. Even if they didn’t make it into the final cut, those thoughts helped me understand the convention much better.

Trying to edit this down, it occurred to me that this would make a great chapter in a book about Las Vegas–it would take five to seven thousand words to do it justice and really get into what’s going on.

I’m going to look at another facet of the convention for the Las Vegas Business Press in next-next week’s column, so keep your hailing frequencies open.

Bacc talk in LVBP, thoughts on empiricism

This week’s Las Vegas Business Press column takes a closer look at the game of baccarat, which is becoming more and more important on the Strip:

At the level of the individual casino, there are even greater swings of fortune. Unlike Nevada, New Jersey discloses separate results for each of its casinos. This allows analysts an eye into what can happen in a given month.

via Las Vegas Business Press :: David G. Schwartz : Baccarat and its wild swings crucial to Nevada.

You can read the original baccarat longitudinal microstudy here, if you want to see the numbers behind the column.

One question I sometimes get is what the value of all of these statistical studies are. The answer is that they add a very important dimension to understanding what’s happening around us, which gives us better insight into how to change it for the better. Becoming more reliant on baccarat–as its currently played in Nevada–has definite consequences for the industry and the state, some good, some bad. It’s important to talk about this as the trend is unfolding, rather than waiting until after it’sp already arrived. If everyone had been looking closer at the revenue jumps in 2005-2006, we’d probably had reacted much better in 2007 and 2008.

But numbers never tell the whole story, which is one of my issues with the “purely empirical” approach outlined by Gary Loveman in this Bloomberg profile. Gambling and tourism are hospitality industries, which start and end with customer interaction and creating an experience for the guest. Metrics are an important part of running the business, but they should support, not define, the approach. Whether you call it action, fun, or excitement, that’s what your “core message” should be.

In other words, it’s not “gamble at our casino, because we’ll offer you a competitive package of comps to get your $529 theoretical loss per trip.” It’s “come here and have fun.”

I’ve been thinking a lot about this angle because I spent much of the week at the Star Trek convention at the Hilton, where I was able to really immerse myself in fandom and talk to the people running the show. I’ll be spinning Vegas Seven and Business Press pieces out of my observations, which will also relate back to the “empiricism vs customer-centered” argument.

There were really a ton of great stories there, from both the fans and the actors.

AC aeronautical history

I’ve got a pretty interesting Atlantic City History article this month–it’s about the original Atlantic City Airshow, circa 1910. From Casino Connection:

The Atlantic City Airshow, “Thunder Over the Boardwalk,” has become a city tradition. Since 2003, the spectacle of U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds and scores of other military aircraft buzzing over the Atlantic Ocean has drawn hundreds of thousands of spectators to the city each year. Fittingly, this summer’s edition is the biggest yet. It’s the 100th anniversary of the extravaganza that put Atlantic City on the aeronautical map.

via High-Flying History | High-Flying History | Casino Connection Atlantic City.

I always learn something when I write these columns.

Trek to the Rescue in Vegas7

It’s Thursday, so I’ve got another Green Felt Journal in Vegas Seven. This week, I take a look at the surprising success of hobby-related trade shows, with a focus on Creation Entertainment’s upcoming Star Trek Convention:

Things haven’t looked good for business travel to Las Vegas for a few years. Since 2006, the city has suffered a 29 percent reduction in convention attendance. But amid the gloom, one sector of group travel has weathered the storm surprisingly well: hobby-related trade shows.

Creation Entertainment, which puts on conventions across the country for fans of genre television and movies, has seen attendance at its annual Star Trek convention in Las Vegas climb steadily in recent years. In fact, thanks to the company’s efforts, the city holds the world’s largest Star Trek convention each year—and is shooting for the record books again during this year’s event, set for Aug. 5-8 at the Las Vegas Hilton.

via Trek to the Rescue | Vegas Seven.

Fun article to research–I learned a lot about the thriving genre TV convention circuit. I’m doing a follow-up at the convention that should be even more interesting. If you decide to go, you might run into me–with or without a Gorn costume (almost certainly without, but you never know).