Scott Stratten of Unmarketing Unloads on Las Vegas Casinos for ‘Unethical’ Resort Fees at G2E
Posted on: October 16, 2019, 04:51h.
Last updated on: October 16, 2019, 10:51h.
LAS VEGAS – Scott Stratten made his 100th trip to Sin City this week for the Global Gaming Expo (G2E), and he decided to use the occasion to share how he feels about the gaming industry – especially the Vegas casinos.
In short, Stratten, a noted business author and president of the Unmarketing Inc. consulting firm, said Vegas casinos could a much better job in serving the millions of visitors who come to town annually to play their slot machines and table games.
To be great in the gaming industry, you only have to be average, because everybody else sucks,” he said.
He zeroed in on a controversial topic that’s been discussed a lot lately: resort fees.
He chided decision-makers for establishing a policy that is left to frontline personnel to enforce, so they don’t get the visceral reaction from customers for paying extra for such items as in-room WiFi, pool and gym access, and a daily newspaper.
Customers pay $30, $40 or even $50 a night for items they can get for free at a Ramada Inn, he said.
“Resort fees, if they are undisclosed at the time of purchase of the room, are unethical,” he said.
Analysts who follow gaming stocks claim that the fees only account for about 3 percent of a company’s revenue, and if casinos were forced to disclose, they fear it would deter business.
However, Stratten, known for his irreverent style, continued his rant against resort fees for more than 10 minutes of his hour-long talk to industry insiders attending G2E, and urged them to take better care of their customers.
“You know what I would pay $40 a day extra for? An outlet beside the bed,” he said.
Resort Fees ‘Delaying the Outrage’
While resort fees draw the ire of guests, companies aren’t planning on them going away anytime soon. In fact, Caesars Entertainment raised their fees just last week, following in MGM Resorts International’s footsteps.
Stratten understands why companies include resort fees, noting that if someone books a room on a third-party website like Expedia, that company doesn’t get a portion of the resort fee. Still, he reiterated that such tack-on fees, either at the beginning or the end of a stay, are bad for brands.
“Let’s just be on the up-and-up. If the room’s going to cost me 80 bucks all-in, then it’s an $80 room,” he told the G2E crowd. “The problem is that it looks good on the surface level when I book $39, $59 or even $189 when it’s usually $250. But all you’re doing is delaying the outrage and passing it along to your frontline, who create your stories.”
Rather than making them the fall guys, casinos should give them the ability to truly take care of their guests.
Coming at the Wrong Time
Stratten’s not alone when it comes to being aggravated by resort fees.
Timothy Lawson, who co-hosts The Bettor Life podcast, told Casino.org that his major issue with resort fees is that some places will still make their guests pay them even if their rooms have been comped.
The fact that Vegas isn’t necessarily taking care of its long-time and high-end customers doesn’t speak well for the market, and Stratten gave personal proof of that.
During his G2E keynote address, Stratten showed some of the player cards he’s received through his stays at various casinos. He’s worked his way up to earn top-tier status at several casinos, yet he said it wasn’t until he made after 92 trips over a 13-year period that he felt one, the Cosmopolitan, truly took care of him.
Resort fees are also coming at an inopportune time for Las Vegas, a time when people have more entertainment destinations from which to choose. While Vegas once dominated the bachelorette party market, Stratten said it’s now fallen behind Nashville as the location of choice for gal-pal getaways.
“We have all this increased competition, maybe less visitation, and now we’re going to throw something on top of it that causes a nuisance,” he said. “This is the worst time possible for resort fees right now. The worst time, but they look great on a balance sheet.”
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