Foxwoods Developing Social Media-Worthy Resort Experiences Amid Changing Customer Attitudes
Posted on: April 14, 2019, 04:00h.
Last updated on: April 12, 2019, 03:16h.
Foxwoods Resort Casino is embracing changing patron behaviors by developing new gaming and entertainment attractions that ideally creates a more social environment throughout the Connecticut destination.
In October, Foxwoods – owned by the Mashantucket Pequot tribe – hired gaming industry veteran Anika Howard to serve as vice president of brand marketing and digital. She spoke recently to Casino.org about the resort’s ongoing plans to incorporate innovative gaming technologies that the casino hopes will appeal to current gamblers’ demand, and lure in younger guests.
Research shows that millennials do not fancy traditional slot machines as much as their parents and grandparents. A YouGov study found that 47 percent of millennials agree with the statement that casinos are depressing.
Howard says it’s not just a millennial problem.
“Millennials want to be more engaged and empowered. But when you replace ‘millennial’ and just say ‘customers,’ these things are describing the changing attitudes in general,” Howard told Casino.org. “We see it less of a millennial problem, and more of the customer’s expectations are changing in general.”
“It’s a broad group of people who want things different,” she added. “At Foxwoods, what we’re trying to do is tap into what are those things that are changing in customer behavior overall?”
Casino Resort of the Future
Foxwoods has already taken numerous steps to offer guests much more than simply slots and table games.
The integrated resort features a virtual reality attraction that transports players into a world where they battle robots and dragons. A nearly one-mile zipline allows thrill-seekers to travel at speeds over 60 MPH. There’s TopGolf, indoor go-karting, and escape rooms.
In terms of gaming, Howard says Foxwoods is working closely with several gaming manufacturers to develop the next casino floor staple. It’s not an easy task.
Skill-based gaming, devices that incorporate elements of aptitude with luck, has been slow to take in both Atlantic City and Las Vegas. Casino execs hoped the offerings would lure in those millennials.
Caesars Entertainment Senior VP Melissa Price, who leads the product strategy team, said it was “a big learning experience” regarding the inclusion of skill-based machines at three of the company’s casinos. “If I install a game in the middle of the sea of slots, it just looks the same. Potential players just walk right past,” she explained.
Howard is focused on better marketing the innovative devices. “You can’t just set it and forget it,” she stated. The branding executive believes new technologies can “create multigenerational shareable experiences.”
MGM, DOI Concerns
Howard said Foxwoods rethinking the use of its floor space isn’t a direct result of MGM Springfield opening just north of the Connecticut-Massachusetts border. The $960 million integrated resort – she says – is “a gaming house.”
We’re gaming, plus-plus,” Howard told Casino.org. “It’s an asset to us, and provides us with a competitive advantage as we’re looking at properties like MGM.”
To MGM’s credit, its Springfield casino does offer TopGolf, retail shopping, a bowling alley, and spa.
In March, the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan tribes finally received formal approval from the US Department of the Interior (DOI) on their amended gaming compacts with the state. The endorsement clears the way for the Native American groups to jointly proceed with their satellite casino in East Windsor that was approved through a 2017 law to help keep gaming dollars from flowing to Springfield.
Connecticut lawmakers – including the state’s congressional delegation – argued that MGM Resorts successfully lobbied former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to not approve the revised gaming compacts. A federal investigation is ongoing into his inaction.
While Connecticut withdrew its lawsuit against the federal agency after receiving authorization of the refreshed compacts, the state might not be finished with the DOI. The tribes want sports betting, and it isn’t clear if that will require yet another approval from DC.
“I’m excited about it, because sports betting is one of the great conveners. If we have the opportunity, that will give us an advantage,” Howard explained of the gambling activity.