How does all of this new communication fit into my website?

Casinos all over the world are faced with a challenge they’ve never seen before as we weather the COVID-19 epidemic. Information changes daily. We find ourselves thinking about a reopening strategy, what new communication looks like and there are three basic questions to ask:

  1. What can our website do, while our property remains closed, to prepare ourselves and our guests for our reopening?
  2. What should our website do during the initial stages of our reopening?
  3. Looking into the months after the reopening, what could our website do to respond to our guests responsibly and intelligently?

There’s a lot that you can do right now, and quite a few things to start planning for. Let’s get into it!

Recommendations During Closure

  1. Persistent global stripe. As a first piece of information, we recommend a global stripe, somewhere near the top of the page, to be displayed on every page. It should contain the most recent headline information, a link to learn more, and a datestamp. As guests can access a website from any entry point, simply making changes to the homepage is insufficient. The stripe should be on every page, updated as frequently as changes are made, and should exist until reopening.

  2. COVID-19 info page. As there is more information than that stripe can contain, a separate page should be created for all COVID-19 information and updates. This page should have several pieces of information in it:

    • Current status. What the casino is doing, what steps are being made right now, what the current reopening plans are, and how they are subject to change.
    • Newsline. As updates occur, they should also be put on the page, with date and time stamps. Let your guests know that things are happening.
    • Questions & Answers: A lot of guests have questions related to concert tickets, hotel bookings, prize drawings, and the like. For all those questions which have been asked and sufficiently answered, collect them in a list.
  3. Use and encourage subscription to your mailing list. With futures uncertain and information incomplete, use your website’s own mailing list as a way to keep those guests in the know. Use your existing list to let guests know of changes in status, and encourage guests not on the list to sign up in order to be informed. As updates are made, post those in the newsline previously mentioned in the point above, and sync that with an email update.

  4. Offer social as an alternate learning source. This strategy can extend out to your social channels as well. Let Facebook, email, and web all work as one collective unit.

  5. Strategize timely content. For website realities such as promotions, drawings, and concerts, keep on top of their status. If a promotion was scheduled to start during the closure, include a note about its postponement and the date, if known. In the event of cancellations, remove that particular event from the public view. An example is included below:

Recommendations For Opening

  1. Build excitement. If you’re dealing with a situation where the reopening date is known in advance, use the website to create excitement for that date. Create a countdown clock. Make that date known on every page. Make that date important.

  2. Announce any new COVID-19 policies. Whether you’re spacing out your slot floor, eliminating blackjack, operating at reduced hours, or any other change to the previous operational procedure, let your guests know that going in. Include sections about these procedures on the corresponding pages (slots, table games, entertainment, etc.).

  3. Catch-all policy shift page. If there are several of these policy changes, collect them all on a single page for post-COVID-19 procedures. Link to this all-in-one page from other pages, and have a top-level navigation element to it as well. This policy page can indicate steps that are being taken and steps that are being considered. This could also have a newsline if policies are shifting over time.

  4. Highlight staff frequently. Your casino staff become even more important during this time. Highlight their successes and compliment their diligence. Cleaning staff get a thank you for protecting guests’ well-being, food and beverage staff get commendation for taking new measures, and management staff get applause for diligence and overseeing. The website is the most public-facing view your casino has. Use it to congratulate those who do good work.

  5. Promote and CLOSELY monitor performance on first events. Whether it’s a “Grand Opening” page or the first set of promotions your casino has planned, build in some inbound traffic referrals for those pages. Measure those against the inbound rate of other pre-COVID-19 promotions, as a guidepost for how these changes are being perceived.

Recommendations For The Coming Months

  1. Measure, act, measure. As has always been the case, measuring the actions of your guests and using that to inform next moves will always be a good course of action. Look at your page hierarchy and see if that interest has changed over time.

  2. Think about the website, not a webpage. Your casino’s website needs to address all sorts of concerns, both internal and external, and should branch out to cover all of them. Spin out individual pages for as many things as needed and monitor each page’s performance.

  3. Consider a helpdesk/live chat. This may or may not be appropriate for your casino’s website, but it’s worth considering: An integrated website feature (either through live chat or a ticket system) where guests can communicate with the casino directly with questions and concerns. This not only answers questions a guest has, but also will identify questions that come up more than once, so that the casino may figure out how to better answer that question so guests don’t have to go to the helpdesk.

  4. Follow general best practices. Websites are going to be even more important this year than they have in years previous. To that end, the following strategies should be implemented:

    • Optimize page speed. Minimize files, use cloud DNS, and bring down image sizes.
    • Keep all content updated. Use a content manager to allow all parts of the website to be editable by those you trust to do so.
    • Robust monitoring. Use both a server-side monitor (such as Awstats) and client-side monitor (such as Motomo) to ensure that you see all user interactions. Give monitor access to those you trust.

These are unprecedented times, and one thing we’re learning is that people are responding strongly to innovative online solutions to problems. We at Red Circle hope that you can use these strategies alongside your own, and we can all get better together.