Many gamblers nowadays are introduced to cruising via free cruise certificates given to them by the land-based casinos they play at. At first glance, a land-based casino handing out certificates for free cruises (i.e. encouraging players to take a vacation somewhere else!) may seem odd, but it’s actually a common practice that benefits both the land-based casino handing out the certificates and the cruise lines giving away the cruises.
How cruise certificate events benefit the casino:
Most of the events that casinos put on to draw in players are expensive to pull off. Whether it is a slots or blackjack tournament with a guaranteed prize pool or a known musical act, the casino is usually stuck ponying up tens of thousands of dollars to put on an event that is actually attractive to comp-level guests.
The first and most obvious appeal of cruise certificate events to the casino is that they draw players in! “Want a free cruise? Great! Come on in and stay with us for two nights to pick up your certificate.” … and hopefully lose a few grand while you are here!
The second, and more unique, reason casinos love these events is that they are FREE for the casino. F.R.E.E. Contrary to what many players believe, the casino does not have to buy or pay a portion of the cruises that they give away to the players. In fact, in the increasingly competitive market of cruise lines competing for casinos to hold their certificate events, often times the casinos will get PAID to put on the certificate events.
Commissions to the casino usually come as a percentage of the gambling revenue from players that redeem the free cruise certificate and/or the annoying “admin fees” that appear when booking the free cruise and can add hundreds of dollars onto a “free” cruise. (Think of the admin fees like resort fees in Las Vegas, incredibly annoying surprise charges, but, thankfully, only one cruise line charges them regularly with their cruise certificates.)
To summarize: with most events, the casino has to fork out a bunch of money to create something appealing to draw players in. With cruise certificate events, the casino spends no money, and oftentimes will be paid, to put on an event that will get many of their top players to make a weekend trip. From the casino marketer’s perspective, cruise certificate events are an absolute slam dunk.
How cruise certificate events benefit the cruise line:
Think of the first time you received your first “comp” offer from a casino in Las Vegas. If you are like many players, you paid a couple hundred bucks to book a room at a casino for a long weekend, gambled during your trip and *voila* an offer to come back for a free stay showed up in your mailbox a few weeks later.
On your next trip (booked on that comp offer), you decided to wander across the street to a different casino to play a little bit and, like rabbits multiplying, suddenly you were receiving offers from TWO casinos competing to lure you back…
As this example illustrates, the casinos in Las Vegas have a much easier time growing their player databases than the casino departments for cruise lines. For one, the retail cost of a cruise can be thousands of dollars whereas one can easily find rooms most weekends in Las Vegas for under $100 per night. The cost of a first trip to a place like Las Vegas is much lower than the cost of a cruise trip, so it’s easier to get people in the door (and into the casino’s database) for the first time. Additionally, players know that the hotel casino can COMP the room at the end of the trip that the new player already paid for – which is something that casinos can do but cruise lines cannot.
The second BIG factor that makes it more difficult for cruise casinos to grow their database is the lack of “walk-in” play. Every day in Las Vegas there are players staying at Caesars Palace that wander over to play at Bellagio or Cosmopolitan and vice versa which creates a huge amount of cross-pollination of player databases. However, in case you didn’t know, cruise lines frown on players wandering onto the ship to try their luck in the casino – in fact, it’s impossible! So really the only way cruise ship casinos can get players into their database is a) through certificate events at land-based casinos or b) praying a big player happens to buy a cruise at retail price and gambles big… or, of course, the really smart cruise companies choose use c) URComped 😉
How does the casino cruise certificate event work?
Now that we understand the motivation for why the cruise line and the casino want to get together for the event, the next question is how does it all work?
The cruise line will generally hand out certificates for 3 or 4 different cabin categories (Inside, Oceanview, Balcony and sometimes Jr. Suite) with increasing play requirements to qualify for each level of offer. The casino runs a query of their database to select players that qualify at each level and then invite the players to the event where the corresponding certificate will be waiting for them accompanied by staff from the cruise line to help promote bookings and answer questions the players have.
A common threshold for certificate events are 250 ADT for inside cabin, 750 ADT for Ocean view, 1000 ADT for Balcony, and 2500 ADT for Jr. Suite. The casinos are generally very rigid on the dates to pick up the certificate – the player must show up during the event. This is not a requirement of the cruise line, in fact, the cruise line would love if the window to pick up the certificate was a month long as that would mean more players would be sailing with them. However, the casinos make picking up the certificate during the event a requirement in order to maintain the effectiveness of the event.
How else do cruise certificates benefit me?
While the certificate event is a win/win/win for the casino, the cruise line and the player, the downside is that many of these players that discover they enjoy cruising get TRAPPED into repeatedly sailing with the one cruise line that their casino decided to partner with. For example, NCL has built much of their casino business on the back of certificate events and a long-standing exclusive partnership with Caesars Entertainment. The cruise line LOVES being the first to offer a comp cruise, because then the players’ choices are to continue sailing comped with the same cruise line OR pay $2000 to try a different cruise line.
URComped was created to solve this specific problem for players by letting them easily pre-qualify themselves for comps with different cruise lines.
How URComped pre-qualifies players
URComped lets players pre-qualify themselves by uploading the offers they receive from casinos they play at. Essentially, URComped reverse engineers the offers to figure out what the casinos think they are worth and combine that info with a lot of other data based on tens of thousands of players and trips to predict how much those players will gamble. Once we analyze that data, we then deliver offers from our partner casinos and cruise lines to those players. Curious what NEW COMPS you qualify for? Sign up for free, upload your offers, and find out!