You are in:
It might not be a phrase you’re familiar with, but if the World Trade Organisation’s projections are correct, it soon will be. 100million Chinese tourists travelling overseas each year by 2020 – why not guide them toward your casino?
Riezouw Associates is looking toward that 2020 figure of 100million Chinese tourists and thinking, “What if…” The company, based in Austria, is looking for casino and tourism partners to initiate a new concept for European tourism. Robert Riezouw, Managing Director of Riezouw Associates, spoke to Casino International about the plan…
Casino International: Riezouw Associates is focussing on promoting casinos outside of China to Chinese tourists, is that right?
Robert Riezouw: That’s correct. We’re calling it casino induced tourism marketing. Effectively we are promoting European casino destinations to Chinese travellers who will be visiting Europe and other countries in their schedule.
CI: The visa situation for Chinese nationals – certainly with Macau in mind – seems to change reasonably frequently. Is that partly why you’re doing this? It’s a growing tourist economy.
RR: I don’t think we would ever think of competing with Macau as a gambling destination for the Chinese, but the reality is that the Chinese are becoming more and more affluent, and their interest in travelling abroad is growing rapidly. The World Trade Organisation has predicted that by 2020, some 100million Chinese will be travelling overseas. Our motivation therefore was not so much that travelling to Macau might be becoming more difficult for them, but rather that when travelling overseas, their love for gambling will certainly play a big role in their choice of destinations in the future.
CI: So what are you doing, and how are you doing it?
RR: First of all we are now the exclusive programming, advertising and sponsoring partners of Lotus TV, a privately-owned, Macau-based television network. Lotus TV services all of the hotels, casinos and households in Macau. The basis we are working on is that through Lotus TV we are reaching a very specific target group, namely: affluent Chinese with a passion for gambling, for travel and for luxury – the three main reasons they are in Macau in the first place.
Our aim is to develop a strategy of creative co-operation between the European tourism industry and the gaming industry, which traditionally have never really worked together because of the perceived stigma on gambling in Europe. In the past, casinos have not played a large role in the marketing mix of the tourism industry. With a primary focus on the growing Chinese tourism market, we are essentially trying to spotlight the casino as a key attraction of the tourism marketing agenda.
We are looking at different ways of doing this. We are currently developing a 20-minute travel & lifestyle program for Lotus TV that will specifically highlight international casino destinations and will run daily on the network. The show will typically profile different tourism destinations, each time showing the various attractions that will appeal to Chinese visitors, but in each case the casino will play a central role.
Basically, we are developing branded content or a branded format for Macau television, focussing on a very specific target group. We are already developing programming around two casinos in Europe.
CI: What kind of casinos are you trying to get on board? What are you looking for in a casino to promote?
RR: Well, we are starting with the casinos rather than trying to get everyone else on board first. We feel the casino operators are the people who will understand the potential of the Macau audience best. Other advertisers and sponsors will first want detailed viewer demographics, whereas the casinos know that Macau is their target group. So we’re approaching the casinos as the primary partners in this initiative.
We’re looking for partners who might be operating multiple casinos, and who are interested in developing an overall strategy to develop tourism to the regions where they have casino properties. Also, we want to include casino destinations that are a little off the beaten track. Everyone knows about London but there are so many other great European cities with great casinos waiting to be discovered. One problem is that the European casinos are quite different to the casinos that the Chinese are used to from Macau. In Europe we sometimes like things to be quaint and intimate, but the Chinese like casinos that are big, bright and noisy. So typical European casinos might at first not be natural destinations for the Chinese. Through our programme, we want to position the casino as a key part of an overall travel experience, which is uniquely European and exciting for our target group. At the same time we are hoping to be able to help the casino community gear up a little towards the typical Chinese patron of the future. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they need to expand, but they might look at offering Baccarat if they don’t have it on their floors, and providing the various facilities and services that Chinese players like.
It’s a bigger agenda, to help the casinos not only attract the Chinese players but also to cater for them correctly.
CI: Are you going to reach all of the people you want to – need to – if you’re just on TV in Macau, though? What about the rest of China?
RR: Lotus TV is a satellite-based network broadcasting throughout Macau, Hong Kong and Mainland China. The reason we are talking mainly about Macau at the moment is because it helps us clearly define the target group and the audience when we are speaking with casinos and tourist organisations. We are really reaching all of China with this.
The interesting thing about this network is that it is privately owned, dynamic and progressive. It is growing rapidly in popularity with audiences across China because of its excellent programming – showing Hollywood classics and box-office hits with very little advertising.