Clubs in the year 2022 – things to plan for and the future of Gaming

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The amount of infrastructure development investment currently being undertaken by Clubs is only surpassed by the planned investment coming down the pipe. These development projects are diversifying the industry into areas we wouldn’t have thought possible 10 years ago – shopping complexes, hotels, day spas and 5-star dining are just the start. We are also becoming more adventurous with food, and Clubs that have invested in infrastructure like carparking, commercial kitchens and top line staff are now able to make food a prime driver for their Club.
While the great stories of industry growth are being written, the bulk of Clubs operate as a hospitality venue focusing on gaming, food and beverage. Competition on these fronts are increasing and evolving, and Clubs need to evolve with it. To keep your members coming back, you need to change and update, and in some cases, reset.
These are the top 5 areas venues should address to ensure growth and reflect our changing commercial environment:

  1. TAB – the days of the TAB being in a dominant and central location are subsiding, whilst Electronic Betting Terminals (EBT) have increased for convenience reasons. Venues need to evaluate the ‘associated gaming spend’ of those patrons to measure the true value of the TAB premises. Advice: adapt into a smaller area away from food outlets and the gaming floor. Good access to a bar, and own smoking area. By using EBTs effectively, reduce the amount of staff required during busy hours.
  2. Food offering – employ a shorter menu with fixed items, and a ‘floating’ list of quarterly items that are seasonal. Getting this number under 15 means less reliance on frozen ingredients, improved quality and consistency – the two biggest killers of any food offering is poor consistency of portions and sub-standard quality. Advice: visit a popular non-club restaurant and look at the size of their menu, then research your own sales over the last 12 months and look at the quantity and margins of each offering, then start culling. Focus group the offerings with staff and members.
  3. Separate Café and Bar – ideally these are at separate counters in separate areas, but if they are to share a common area, put them at opposing ends staffed by different people. A person lining up for a beer doesn’t want the person in front ordering four lattes. Advice: get your staff trained and enrolled in a Barista course. It’s 2017, we have evolved into harsh critics of coffee. Also, get a good tea offering.
  4. Car parking – a ratio of 2.5 car spots for every EGM is something to aim for. If you plan on expanded food offering, new auditoriums, gyms, kids areas and the like, make sure you have a parking plan with good lighting and access to the Club. Advice: parking should be well lit and offer security. Ensure it is clean as it is the first contact people generally have with your Club.
  5. Get yourself some Business Intelligence – we have perfected the art of analysing gaming floors, yet we are still struggling with member analysis. There will be a small group of members who generate 10% of your venue’s revenue. Know them, engage them and include them…or someone else will. Advice: include analysis in your management plan and charge management as the drivers of this. Become educated on the topic and learn to use pivot tables in Excel.

Member surveys, focus groups and general discussions are incredibly valuable due to the information and insight they harness. To engage people, start the conversation with food as EVERYONE has an opinion on it. Ensure to balance all feedback against actual data, but more importantly, understand where your Club sits in the market and what the challenges are for the future. Know your competitors – opening hours, promotions, rewards program, member offers, facilities and amenities on offer and future plans where possible.
Gaming, the prime economic engine of Clubs, will undergo many changes over the next five years as well. Here is a short list of some short and medium-term advancements we will see:

  • Near field technology – we have gone from tokenisation to TITO, now to cashless and next up is the utilisation of Bluetooth technology to use your smart phone as a vehicle for credits moving on and off a machine. The technology exists and has been developed by a handful of manufacturers, the next step is regulator acceptance.
  • Virtual Reality – manufacturers will now to look at allowing players to incorporate their smartphone VR product with the gaming machine as an optional extra.
  • Server based gaming 2.0 – the hot new thing circa 2009, server based gaming died with over engineering and a lack of standards. A single-minded approach to continually clutter the screen with offerings and games, and a lack of co-operation between manufacturers ensured server based gaming never hit critical mass. With that in mind, the underlying idea of controlling the floor has its merits.
  • Cohort analysis – advanced analytics focusing on player groups around what they have in common – time of day, day of week visitation, combining eating and drinking with gaming, machine types…the list goes on.
  • Cabinet size – dictated by global LED screen suppliers, the current 27” standard will move to 30” in the next few years. This will impact current floors as the standard bases will not support the width and custom made benches will replace bases as the requirement to have set aperture spacing underneath a machine is disappearing.
  • Club Apps as a portal – sports and wagering apps, and now a Keno app makes the smartphone the vehicle for any number of engaging opportunities. Club apps should look to move to the top of the apex by being the entry portal for members by allowing them to earn points on spend, but also engaging the member in a more consistent way.

Predictions and projections are a tough business, but the alternative is harder – waiting for the future to appear and then being unprepared. By engaging with members and manufacturers, going to conventions and generally being engaged with the industry, you will get a better understanding of what is out there. Contact us today to ensure your future planning takes into account all the possibilities.

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