By Arjan Korstjens

Win this car! Win this visit to Las Vegas! Win this city trip!

Wherever I go – and I have seen quite a few casinos around the globe – the Grand Prize is… a car! Most of the time, of course, not just a regular car, but something special: a Ford Mustang, a Porsche, a Mercedes, etc.

But do our guests want to win a car? I don’t think so. In nine out of ten cases, the winner will take the cash instead. (Because every casino has learned by now to also offer a cash alternative.) After all, winning a car does not mean that you can afford to drive that car, or actually want to drive such a car.

So why do casinos keep offering cars as Grand Prizes? Time and time again, I get the same responses when I ask this question. “We are a casino. Here you win exceptional prizes.” “We always give away cars.” “We always have a very busy night when we do the draw.”

To be honest, this sounds like a lack of fantasy, a lack of knowledge, and possibly even laziness. Are we really unable to things better or think of something different than our predecessors?

As a marketeer, the lack of knowledge is the one thing that bothers me most. Very often, casino marketing departments simply do not possess a solid knowledge of different player groups and their distinct motivations and expectations. For if they would, they would think of other prizes to give away.

Of course, winning a car is an attractive proposition for younger, occasional visitors who drop by at the casino a couple of times each year on a Friday or Saturday night. But will such visitors come back on the night of the draw?

Frequent visitors, who are the backbone of any casino, spend between €50 and €200 per visit. If they win the car, they take the cash, give part of it to their grandkids, buy a new sofa, and come back to your casino with the exact same budget as before.

For frequent visitors, high-frequency/low-amount prizes are far more attractive than a car. This is also true for the casinos themselves, for it offers them a chance to win the prize money back. A car is money driving out of the casino.

Does this mean that casinos should never give away a car or trip to Las Vegas? Of course not. In order to attract specific target groups, Grand Prizes are important; and, for some, it is also part of the expected casino experience.

But when casinos do want to give away Grand Prizes, they should first think really hard on which target group they seek to attract. And then they should get creative.

Do you want to attract younger visitors that are concerned with the world around them? Here is a free idea for you:

Win your own elephant!

When you win this Grand Prize we will fly you to Thailand, buy you an elephant from a tourist attraction, rig it with a GPS transponder, and set it free in a nature park. It will be your elephant for the rest of its life and at every subsequent party you can show the exact location of your very own elephant.

That is a Grand Prize that changes lives, including the life of the elephant!

Arjan Korstjens is a consultant, speaker and trainer in the international casino industry. Arjan’s company Explayner assists online and land-based casinos in improving the effectiveness of their marketing. Arjan is also a course leader at the Casino Marketing Academy.

Image by Remy Rossi