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Las Vegas is all a-Twitter over social media

The casinos are finally catching on to the marketing and feedback value of tweets and Facebook.

November 22, 2009|By Richard Abowitz

Jessica Berlin, a longtime publicist for the Vegas Cirque du Soleil shows, became one of the first full-time interactive social media representatives on the Strip about two years ago. "A lot of it was that we knew our brand was being discussed online, and we wanted to be part of that conversation."

So among other activities, Berlin set up every Vegas Cirque show with its own Facebook page. When Twitter came along, she chose to have only one account, Cirque, to represent all six of the Canadian troupes' shows on the Strip

"We went onto Twitter about a year and a half ago not expecting much. But while it is my voice, we are still just finding out in terms of the type of content we are putting out there. That took a little bit of trial and error."

Last week, "Cirque" offered its first artist chat to its nearly 8,000 followers, giving them a chance to ask in real time any questions of Felix, a performer in "Zumanity."

According to Berlin, "In the beginning, I thought it would be great for us to send out deals about any ticket promotions . But it turned out the best response we got was to insider information about the shows."

Of course, Cirque has not given up using Twitter for marketing specials, and Cirque's Twitter is probably the best place to find last-minute specials. This is also true of other Vegas brands on Twitter, like the Hard Rock Hotel and Luxor casinos.

Both properties offer Tuesday promotions to followers, calling these deals "Twitter Tuesday." On the last Twitter Tuesday, Hard Rock offered the casino's more than 10,000 followers rooms for $75 with a matching $75 resort credit (limited to the first 75 responders). Luxor's most recent 24-hour special for the resort's almost 12,000 followers for Twitter Tuesday were room rates starting at $38.

It wasn't until the end of this summer that Jade Bailey-Assam, the company's e-strategy development manager, launched the Wynn Las Vegas Twitter stream. According to Bailey-Assam, the company held off because it felt the experience with guests needed to happen in person.

Now, she said, "We try to do it in a way that is natural and fits in the conversation."

In the few months since she began using Twitter, "WynnLasVegas" has attracted more than 150,000 followers, far more than any other property on the Strip. Bailey-Assam admits being totally surprised by the popularity and has no way to account for it beyond the celebrity of Steve Wynn.

Celebrities, of course, can easily draw large numbers of followers; Penn of Penn & Teller is heading toward 1.5 million followers, whereas the Rio, where the duo performs, has only about 14,000 followers. But it is only now becoming clear to the Strip that a casino or a nightclub can also enjoy a large number of followers. Bailey-Assem was amazed to discover the dedication some customers had to Wynn Las Vegas as a brand. "In the first week of Tweeting, I came across a fan whose profile picture is the hotel and his daughter's middle name is Wynn."

Like Cirque, Pure Management Group (whose Strip nightclubs and restaurants include Pure at Caesars, LAX at Luxor, Coyote Ugly at New York New York) consolidates its various Strip businesses under one Twitter account, PureLasVegas, written by Andy Levey, director of relationship marketing. Until now, PureLasVegas has had a neutral business tone, which may explain why it has less than 4,000 followers, but the company may be adding more of a nightclub and Vegas attitude to its Twitter voice.

Perhaps, more than any other company, MGM Mirage, with nine resorts on the Strip and CityCenter soon to open, has taken the lead in using Twitter to speak for its properties in a variety of ways. Luxor, which has many offerings focused on a younger demographic, has LuxorLV, written by Danielle Consiglio, marketing manager for the property. Consiglio has developed a following on her musings on everything from fashion to pop songs mixed in with her plugs for the property.

The company has also created a Twitter account, VegasConcierge, written by Megan Tobin, Internet market manager, MGM Mirage. According to Tobin, "We do push out only our properties, but we will facilitate and help people find things at other properties. We will give them information about Body English (the nightclub at the Hard Rock) but also suggest they might want to try Bank (at MGM Mirage's Bellagio) the next night."

In the end, it's difficult to metaphorically loosen the corporate coat and tie, but Twitter is really only the latest expression of the perpetual goal of Las Vegas: being all things to all people.

calendar@latimes.com

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