Gulf Coast challenges and opportunities
In the 18 months since Hurricane Katrina overtook the shores of the American Gulf Coast, we, as a country and as an industry, have learned quite a lot. Many of these lessons have been sobering and trying, but they also have taught us about the strength, buoyancy and resilience of our industry and the people who work within it.
Looking back over the past year and a half, the progress our industry has made in the regional rebuilding efforts has been truly remarkable. Today, nearly all of the Gulf Coast’s casinos are back up and running, and various new properties are in development, and the efforts gaming companies have made to revitalize the Gulf Coast and our industry there have resulted in concrete and meaningful improvements in a long and arduous recovery.
Yet, in the wake of these important successes come new challenges, both for our industry and for the region itself. In fact, some community development plans along the Gulf Coast have been put on hold due to challenges ranging from public policy decisions to insurance issues, the increased cost of construction and more.
While many of these issues must be addressed at the broader community level, developing and re-developing casinos face additional challenges. They must deal with increased competition, work to meet the increasingly sophisticated needs of customers who demand a more diversified gaming entertainment experience, as well as navigate an overall industry landscape that is rapidly evolving. These realities raise questions that are significant and pose significant challenges for all gaming companies, and even more so for those companies with properties located on the Gulf Coast.
For example, how will the ongoing consolidation of companies within the industry affect new investment in the Gulf Coast? And what can the region do to rebuild and expand its tourism industry? Which customer experience upgrades are the most important for properties to be looking to integrate as they rebuild – is it new technologies, non-gaming amenities or a better mix of games on the casino floor?
While we already have learned much from the twin disasters of Katrina and Rita, these questions and challenges highlight the fact that there always will be more to learn. Thankfully, we are in the perfect position to welcome these new challenges and the lessons we’ll learn from them, and to make our industry and businesses better for them.
Many of the challenges encountered in the Gulf Coast region are mirrored by those faced in other gaming jurisdictions. But these challenges are most acute along the Gulf Coast, which what makes the region the ideal place to hold the 2007 G2E Institute, our unique, workshop-style conference event, which this year moves to New Orleans.
As it did last year when it debuted in Las Vegas, G2E Institute once again will offer the world-class educational content and dynamic networking events for which the G2E brand is known. The event, themed Gaming’s Next Era: Leveraging Innovation to Enhance Your Market and will feature cutting-edge conference programming that gives gaming professionals and community leaders the tools they need to build their markets into premiere gaming destinations. Scheduled for April 10-12, 2007, at the Wyndham New Orleans at Canal Place, the conference will examine how existing markets have harnessed the latest gaming trends to improve their businesses, and explain how those best practices can be applied to transform emerging and re-emerging gaming jurisdictions.
The sessions at this year’s event address many of the important questions I’ve already posed. For instance, in “When the Big Get Bigger: Industry Consolidation and Its Impact Beyond the Boardroom Door,” a panel of experts will discuss how the consolidation of gaming companies is fundamentally changing how our businesses operate, as well as the effects this consolidation is having in gaming jurisdictions across the country.
Tourism already is an important source of revenue, or is one waiting to be tapped, for many gaming jurisdictions. The session “Meeting Expectations: The Convention & Visitors Authority Roundtable” will feature a panel of convention and visitors’ authority leaders who will examine how to use gaming as a magnet for tourism and the convention market, and describe how to bring new business to your property by creating a mutually beneficial relationship with you local tourism group.
The 2007 G2E Institute also will feature several sessions designed to help you improve your customer experience and back of the house operations, including sessions on creating the right mix of table games and slots on your gaming floor; introducing new technologies such as server-based gaming and table-tracking capabilities to your gaming floor; and upgrading your property with the non-gaming amenities most sought by today’s commercial casino patron. Additionally, G2E Institute will maximize the opportunity presented by its surroundings, incorporating sessions that delve into the unique lessons that have been learned by Gulf Coast properties, both before and after the hurricanes.
The substantial rebuilding efforts underway in the Gulf Coast also make it an exciting place to hold G2E’s popular Casino Design conference, which is dedicated to the design and development of casino resort properties and will be co-located with G2E Institute 2007. This one-of-a-kind conference event will offer an exclusive look at what’s new in the world of casino design, construction and décor. Conference sessions will focus on everything from risk management and interior design to the most dramatic upcoming design projects around the world to a look at solutions to the top ten casino design and construction problems. G2E Institute also will host the 2007 Casino Design Awards Luncheon.
We already have received tremendous positive response about the event, with gaming professionals and community leaders in the region saying they think G2E Institute will play an important role in the overall revitalization of the Gulf Coast. At the same time, G2E Institute’s innovative and solution-driven approach will benefit gaming professionals nationwide who are looking to learn the best practices successful companies have developed to attract and retain more customers, improve back-of-the-house operations and further enrich the customer experience.
Author Louisa May Alcott once said, “I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning how to sail my ship.” That sentiment is exactly what G2E Institute 2007 is all about, as we remain committed to providing you with the resources you need to navigate your business safely and successfully into a new era of gaming entertainment. I invite you to ensure that you and your business are prepared for whatever lies ahead by joining us this April in New Orleans.