Offering personalised service and value for money is key to running successful small-scale slot venues in the midst of casino giants, says Andy Crisafi, Vice President of Operations at Weike (G) Management Macau LtdTuesday, 15 February 2011
On December 20th, Weike (G) Management Macau Ltd took over the operation of the slot machines and electronic table game (ETG) terminals at a major Macau casino—which had previously used a different third-party slot operator. The new operation adds to the 237 slots run by Weike (G) Management at a recently-expanded venue also located in the vicinity. Working swiftly to create the new setup, Weike (G) had the full complement of 170 slots up and running by Christmas Day, though as Mr Crisafi points out, “this was a staged install in which we already had a few machines running on the 20th, so there was no real downtime for the operation, which was great.”
Although it’s early days, there appears to have been a marked improvement in the performance of the slots since Weike (G) Management was handed the reins, and Mr Crisafi credits that to a greater focus on customer service. “We’re committed to providing improved personalised VIP services and are achieving greater results out of our high-limit play. We’re also seeing good results from the mass market, which is our base”
Although Weike (G) Management’s new slot operation is located right next door to much larger slot operations at Wynn Macau, MGM Macau and StarWorld, Mr Crisafi is undeterred by the competition. “At the end of the day, it comes down to the players’ experience. Are they having a good time and value for their money? They can play the same products anywhere around town, so what’s going to keep the players happier in a particular casino is their experience.
“At the bigger operations, it’s hard for each staff member to know the names of every player who walks in. They’re big casino operations with over a thousand machines. There are a lot of different customers that come in to those big operations. With us, we’ve only got 170 machines and offer a boutique gaming experience. I put a lot of time and effort into developing my staff, so they know the customers by name, they know what they like to eat and drink. And if they want a drink, we’ll get them a drink within a minute, which is not so easy to do at the larger properties. Those are things that give us an advantage.”
Of course, sitting next door to bigger and more established slot operations does have the benefit of giving Weike (G) Management access to slot players wishing to casino-hop.
The bottom line
Mr Crisafi recognises Macau’s increasingly savvy slot players are also acutely aware of value for money, and Weike (G) Management’s slots are set to offer competitive returns to player (RTPs). “So we give the players time on device. We don’t want to rape and pillage our players. We’re out to build up our loyalty. We’re here for the long term. We’re doing different things with our product here as well. It’s not just RTP, but we’re very aggressive with a lot of our mystery links and our marketing strategies.”
With just over 400 machines currently running at two Macau sites, Weike (G) Management plans to expand its presence to other local casinos, with a goal to have around 1,000 machines in the city by the end of the year.
Although slot revenues in traditionally table-dominated Macau have surged over the past few years, the gains have been concentrated at the newer and larger casinos, which are better endowed with the resources and know-how to serve and market to slot players. Weike (G) Management offers smaller casinos a one-stop solution to improve their relative slot performance. “We’ll handle everything, from the slots to staffing to marketing,” comments Mr Crisafi. “This is an important time for casinos to really establish good, strong slot operations, so they can build up their loyalty base and benefit from the growth of slots in Macau. We are committed to providing high quality, reliable and customer-centric services and solutions for our Macau operations.”
As Weike (G) Management widens its Macau presence, it also hopes to establish sufficient critical mass to enable it to “offer cross marketing promotions and build loyalty programmes across those properties, and possibly introduce wide area links.”
Weike in focus
Weike (G) Management is backed by Singapore-based Weike Group, a holding company with several investments in the leisure and lifestyle sector, and which owns Weike Gaming Technology, a leading Asiafocused manufacturer of slots, ETGs, and gaming management and jackpot systems.
Of the 170 machines at their newest location, 65 are supplied by Weike Gaming Technology, providing a Macau showcase for the manufacturers’ wares. Weike’s products have a strong following in Singapore, Malaysia and Indochina, and Mr Crisafi believes there is clear potential for Weike to improve its share of the Macau gaming machine market. “The advantage is it’s an Asian based company, specifically making games for the Asian market. Weike has come out with a great catalogue of games and is in a position where it can customise games for this market—and it has been doing so. Weike in conjunction with Paltronics is just about to release a new linked product, ‘Winner Takes All’, that’s an exciting, innovative, unique tournament product that has never been done before in Macau.”
In addition to the Weike slots, Weike (G) Management’s latest operation includes a wide selection of popular games from other suppliers. As Mr Crisafi points out: “Variety is very important to have in any casino. You have to have a good mix of products from all the manufacturers. Customers look for that variety. For us to compete with the other properties around town, we’ve got to at least offer the same products that they offer in addition to new and exciting innovative products.”