Get in the (Big) Game

Chris Picone, beverage director for Caesars Entertainment, knows a thing or two about how to put together a successful promotion. With 50 casinos around the world and 150 food and beer concepts, Caesars hits on all the senses, especially for sports fans. For example, Caesars partners with MillerCoors for its NFL “Now…Get in the Game” promotion, which offers giveaways for player merchandise (where legal), collectible logo glassware and, in some locations, meet and greets with professional football players.

From understanding how to attract guests not just for one drink but also for a few pints to knowing how to throw a large event, including a profitable sports promotion that has imbibing guests entertained throughout the evening, Caesars promotions are one of a kind and always successful. With the Big Game only a few weeks away, Picone talks with us about what it takes to create a sports promotion that will give guests myriad reasons to come to your establishment for Super Bowl Sunday and beyond.

Promo Power (PP): How do you run a successful sports promotion that really engages the customer? Promo Power

Chris Picone: The first item of business is providing the guest with value and something experiential.

PP: Tell me about the sports promotion you ran last year. How did you measure its success? 

Picone: The success for our program is measured on many fronts: revenue, beverage and food sales, new total reward signups (Caesar Entertainment’s Loyalty Program), guest feedback etc.

PP: How long does it generally take you to plan a big sports promotion?

Picone: Our planning begins right after the previous football season ends. It is usually a six-month process for us. 

PP: Any tips or lessons you have learned that can help other bars planning to run sports-related promotions?

Picone: The key is quite simple: Provide a unique value offering tied to something experiential. You want to make it as simple as possible for both the employee to execute and for the customer to obtain.

PP: What are the biggest costs in planning a sports promotion?

Picone: The biggest cost is the advertising needed to promote what you are doing to the consumer.

PP: As a bar owner or operator, do you make any profit from putting on such large and time-consuming events?

Picone: Football season is our most profitable event. During this time, we benefit with increase check averages, increased hotel occupancy and for us  our gaming revenue from sports betting is quite substantial.

PP: When planning a sports promotion, finding sponsors can benefit a bar or club. Do you have sponsors to help you out?

Picone: Yes, we leverage our strategic alliances on many fronts. On the beverage front for the last couple of years, we have aligned with MillerCoors (prizing and advertising support, where legal) and spirit companies like Brown-Forman and Diageo to assist with point of sale that showcases their brands with our drink specials.

PP: What are the main things people do wrong when planning a sports-themed promotion?

Picone: It is important that you are willing to try something new every year, keep it fresh and simple. In today’s environment there are many places the consumer can go and watch a sporting event. Create something unique that they can only get if they come to your establishment. Everyone offers pricing specials. Instead, promote something that will make them want to get off their couch and sit on yours. For us, this year was an opportunity to win tickets to a football game each week, with the final prize being a all-expense-paid trip to see the BCS Championship game in New Orleans.

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