Old-School New Media

It’s not easy for the little guy on the Las Vegas Strip these days. Of course, the little guy’s still a casino that makes millions of dollars each year, but compared with the megaliths owned by the big boys (MGM Resorts International, Caesars Entertainment), places such as the Casino Royale are the neighborhood corner store.

The problem is, there’s not quite enough business to go around these days. With the economic slump in its third year, competition for visitors is intense.

Just about everyone on the Strip has made the jump to social media; for the major corporations, that may mean a team of dedicated employees who spend most of the day Tweeting, status updating and curating content. The Casino Royale’s got a social media department of one: director of facilities J Barnard, who also runs a host of departments from security to engineering to porters. He’s adopted a common-sense approach that, while breaking all the rules of the game, is nonetheless striking a chord.

Most casino Tweeters try to carefully strike a balance between conversation and promotion; they’ll share news of what’s going on and pitch Twitter specials to their followers, but disdain from full-press advertising.

Barnard does it differently. Every day, with a barrage of 140-character announcements, he spreads the word that the Casino Royale is a bargain-hunter’s paradise: $1.99 foot-longs, $50 free play for new slot club members and dollar beers abound.

His approach might lack finesse, but it’s been successful.

“The food court is jamming,” Barnard says. “The lines for Subway never end.”

Going back to the Old Vegas, food-and-beverage-as-loss-leader approach is working for the Casino Royale, and it’s a good thing: Without bargain plays to distinguish it, the joint would be swamped by the wake from its massive neighbors, the Venetian and Harrah’s.

Despite its small size, the Casino Royale has found a niche and sends out a consistent, easy-to-understand message to its audience. It’s an approach that some of the bigger operators might want to emulate.

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