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Improving Connections

Guido Berghmans, CEO, CASINO 2000, chats with Damien Connelly about its connected entertainment

We are the only casino in Europe where you find the Las Vegas concept implemented 100% throughout the property. Everything we offer is behind our entrance control; our casino and bingo, our hotel, our F&B, and our Chapito events facility. The most important thing is we now have our Chapito directly connected with our venue.”

Since 1999, the owner has invested over €60 million in CASINO 2OOO. From expanding the casino floor, through building a second hotel tower, to renewing the restaurants and adding the Chapito for events, CASINO 2OOO has improved significantly over the years. From my first visit to my latest, I am always amazed by the efficiency of the team.

As Bob Ambrose has been writing about in his Casino Life articles, a great team makes a huge difference to any casino…and for me, the CASINO 2OOO team is the best I’ve come across in Europe. From the floor staff to the senior management team, they know their customers, take great pride in their work, and great care over their customers’ wellbeing. They seem to be telepathic to me, as they anticipate where and when individual customers will need their assistance before those customers know it themselves. You have to go and see this team in action.

The benefits this team brings spread beyond the casino, with investments being made in the region. As Guido commented, “They are making changes to the autobahn that will make it easier for people from the City of Luxembourg to travel to Mondorf-

“les-Bains.” The casino is located in Mondorf-les-Bains, a small spa town with a population of 4,500. When you walk around the town, you can see the economic gains to the town; not least the raft of construction underway that will significantly increase its population. CASINO 2OOO is strongly connected to the economic wellbeing of the area.

“With our reception and the new welcome area finalised, we now connect all the spaces in our building. When an event finishes and people are leaving the Chapito, they walk through through the ‘Passage’ and see our new ‘petit casino’ which offers a taste of our main casino floor.”

When I visited, I attended a live concert in the Chapito with hundreds of other people and saw how effectively this connection happens. Many visitors stayed in the building after the concert to extend their evening’s entertainment by visiting the casino and using the F&B facilities. The latest F&B facility is the Indigo Bar: “Our new Indigo bar offers a great space for our customers to sit down and relax. It is also very popular with our hotel guests and for people who come for an event.”

I can testify to this. I sat and watched people leaving the concert and, the following day, I sat in the Indigo bar area and watched CASINO 2OOO’s customers come and go—a bit like you do in a Parisian café. One of the subtle elements of this space that I never even noticed until Guido pointed it out to me is the attention given to noise; important given this is a transition area focused on keeping people in the building. The background music is low key and relaxing, and all the slot machines have had their volume set to zero.

“We asked our customers what they like about this new area. All of our customers said they liked how we have turned the sound off on every slot machine. And they like our choice of music playing in the background at a low level, which is deliberately chosen to be relaxing.”

Another point of detail that caught my attention is the request service concept, where you can call a staff member by pressing a button; exactly the same as the call service buttons on slots. This allows the Indigo bar to be open yet not permanently staffed. And the service is rapid; I waited only a few minutes to be served every time I used this request service.

Connecting Events

The Chapito gives CASINO 2OOO a flexible event space that can accommodate up to 1,300 people seated and 2,100 standing. It is used for both corporate and customer events, like the concert I and several hundred other customers attended. The focus on events is being ramped up by CASINO 2OOO, as Guido noted: “About 40% of people in this region know of the CASINO 2OOO brand name. We hope to grow this by using events such as we had this evening to attract new customers.

“We are working on an event programme that covers the next 12 to 18 months, whereas before we used to work on a programme that was only for the next 2 or 3 months. As our total concept is now finalised and we have joined all our spaces together, we are working hard to use the entire building. We don’t want to have a Friday or Saturday evening where we have no events or shows. We have at least 100 musical events organised in our programme. We also have blackjack tournaments and regular bingo events, so we always have something happening to attract people. We are also increasing our use of communication activities, such as Facebook and Twitter, to attract more customers via our events programme.”

Then there’s the 3-day Festival Culturel organised by CASINO 2OOO, which is now in its 11th year. Growing in strength every year, this is a key tactic in helping to change people’s perceptions of the kind of entertainment they can experience in a casino resort. With a view to constantly improving its Festival Culturel, CASINO 2OOO is partnering with Francofolies de Spa with which it is able to share ideas and knowledge.

Its desire and willingness to share ideas and knowledge helps explains why CASINO 2OOO is a leading member of Casinos Créateurs d’Émotions, a federation of casinos whose membership spans Europe and North Africa. The federation started in 2004 and is open to independently owned casinos, as well as small casino groups. Members discuss and share knowledge and best practices, book the same entertainment acts, and even share concepts: for example, the Purple Lounge operates in several of the casinos in the Casinos Créateurs d’Émotions federation, including CASINO 2OOO.

Casino Developments

“We are adding Novomatic V.I.P. machines and an 8-seat electronic roulette from Alfastreet. We discussed electronic roulette options within our Casinos Créateurs d’Émotions federation. We came to the decision that the Alfastreet product was the most suitable for our casino. We chose the Alfastreet product as the software seems to offer everything the customer needs, e.g. particular bets can be cancelled, which we think our customers will really appreciate.”

Another thing CASINO 2OOO customers really appreciate is winning; an average day sees customers winning over 300 jackpots. “Our customers like playing for jackpots, especially multi-level jackpots. King Kong Cash is very important for us. We keep our machines on average six or seven years. We now add only machines we know have a proven performance level in Europe.”

As customer behaviour changes, so does the casino and the equipment it has on its floor: “We have 80 machines which still accept coins. Some of our customers prefer to play with coins, but this number is reducing every year. Probably within three years our casino will be completely cashless. Our DRGT cashless system is working very well; it’s easier to have cashless, and our customers like it.”

Future Opportunities

“The last time our gaming laws were updated was in 2002. They are working currently on new rules that will allow us to offer all the gaming options we have previously not been able to offer, such as poker, Caribbean Stud poker, semi-automatic games, and being able to place used machines. This will allow us a lot more flexibility in our operations. And we hope that for the coming years there will be a development in our gaming laws to allow skill-based games.

“The first things we will be able to do is to have payback on the slot machines allowing us to offer free games to our customers. There will be certain types of slot machines that we will be able to add to our machine park to make our offer more closely resemble that of the large casinos people are used to playing in in markets such as Las Vegas. Ultimate Texas Hold’em Poker or Caribbean Stud poker could be something interesting. We will add poker, targeting people 30-years plus.

“We are still working on the extension of our hotel; our President Tower. This will be completed in a few months and will add a new product. Our President Tower has a Board Room allowing us to offer to businesses a new venue where they can hold business events and meetings.”

One other thing that amazes me about CASINO 2OOO is its constant drive to improve the products it offers. As I was leaving, the team were starting a review of their buffet to improve it for their customers. I often think too many European casinos underestimate the value in buffets and in providing a quality food offering…but not CASINO 2OOO. It knows what its customers want.