Casino Company Gambles On Gamification

Via David F. Carr @carr2n, Informationweek.com

“National casino chain Boyd Gaming uses Gigya’s gamification platform to keep players hooked on its loyalty program.

Casino developer and operator Boyd Gaming Corp. is betting on social gamification to boost its loyalty program and keep players coming back for more.

Boyd has just launched a new version of its B Connected Online loyalty website featuring social gamification components provided by Gigya. Social software developers use the term gamification to refer to game-like elements included in a Web experience that encourage users to compete in systems of ranking and social recognition. The most active users often are recognized with badges that appear next to their profile pictures or placement on a leaderboard.

On Boyd’s site, people earn points for booking a room online or sharing a link to an upcoming event at one of its properties. Those points, in turn, win them entries into drawings for giveaways ranging from spa treatments to free slot play.

“What we’ve done is add a social element into B Connected Online that will reward them for their online, as well as their social activity,” said Brian Best, VP of e-commerce at Boyd Gaming. “Booking a room online saves us a substantial amount of money versus them calling into the call center, and B Connected Social will reward them for doing that.”

Given the company’s expertise in running games that people want to play again and again, “it was a very natural fit to layer social gamification on top of our loyalty program,” Best said.

Boyd is a publicly traded owner and operator of 17 gaming entertainment properties located in Nevada, New Jersey, Mississippi, Illinois, Indiana, and Louisiana. Although other gaming companies might also be including elements of gamification in their websites, “nobody has done that on a national scale like we have,” said David Strow, director of corporate communications for Boyd. The company believes it will pay off because there “is a lot of overlap in our core demographic” with the people who play online games such as Farmville, he said.

In addition to awarding points for desirable behaviors, the social gamification program also recognizes status as an important motivator, Strow said, in much the same way that the company’s player’s card recognizes advancement from ruby card holders to sapphire and, ultimately, emerald. “It’s the same concept, really, in the use of this product to give people a way to stand out on the website,” he said.

The use of points as entries in drawings for giveaways, rather than as a more straightforward currency for redemption, also makes sense in terms of the psychology of gamification, where variable or unpredictable rewards are often the most powerful motivators.

Best said the loyalty website already had won multiple awards. In October, B Connected Online won an American Gaming Association award for best website, and its mobile app was named the best mobile marketing tool. However, until now it was more of a straight transactional website for booking stays and looking up reward point totals.

Gigya offers a software-as-a-service suite of social software capabilities including gamification, social sharing, and single sign-on that its customers can embed in their own websites. Other prominent deployments include the social website Pepsi built around the X-Factor TV show and the Comcast SportsNet site for fans of local sports teams.

Best said Boyd didn’t take advantage of the single sign-on Gigya offers for authentication through Facebook, Twitter, and other services. For regulatory reasons, it was better to keep tight control over authentication to the website, he said. However, the Gigya gamification and social sharing modules have been implemented broadly–not just on the B Connected site but on those of other hotel casino properties where actions such as social sharing also will be tracked.

The latest update to the website also adds realtime notifications through email, text messaging, and the B Connected mobile app. “We’ll be letting you know as soon as a new slot product hits the floor, or, if you like country music, as soon as an act is booked at the Orleans or one of our properties,” Best said.”

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