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WHAT IS A COMP TICKET?

WHAT IS A COMP TICKET?

WHAT ARE COMP TICKETS?

Nothing reinforces a gambler’s addiction more than satiating their urges for instant gratification. And that is why the casino COMP is the single greatest marketing tool ever created. COMPs can be food, drinks, concert tickets, or even cash money that are awarded over a period of time, in real-time on the spot. Ultimately it’s part of a reinvestment strategy that helps retain and attract quality players. The average casino will consider reinvesting up to 25% for the average player, and for higher caliber players, reinvestment can go as high as 30%. When used properly in the right setting, a COMP (of any kind) alters behavior, has more impact, and is more influential than any promotion, advertisement, or remarketing effort. For non-gaming venues and most theatres, a COMP can be less welcome, however. That doesn’t mean all casino venues and theaters are completely different, it means that their COMP strategies are.

All concert venues, promoters, and casino talent buyers want one thing – to be profitable. With that being said, it is impossible to say you hate a COMP when it has the power to add value to performances and can be used to award or persuade even the most stubborn people. Remember, for the concert venue it is of the utmost importance to regulate and have a preset amount of COMPs that rarely changes. This will help with your ticketing and COMP strategy. A COMP should never be awarded to someone in exchange for the possibility of return. COMPs should only ever be given to those who have already earned them in some fashion. This is the single biggest misconception amongst directors, venue managers, and casino talent buyers. The secrets to applying and maintaining a proper COMP ratio are easily leveraged if you are working with the right entertainment strategist like SEG. The alternative is attempting to find the right balance while experimenting over a decade or two, and that comes with a steep learning curve and can be costly.

At some point, you will encounter a show that is so popular that you will feel have the urge to sell all of your COMP tickets. When that time comes, avoid such drastic behavior. Instead, raise prices gradually or scale higher form the beginning to maximize profit on the front end. Don’t forget that your COMPs have already paid for their ticket (in some way). The perceived deficit can be easily offset by increasing the price of the top tier(s) or last price levels before or after going on sale. Additionally, always encourage your casino host to research and decipher the value of your COMP patron before they offer the COMP. All hosts should have the most valuable player’s average coin in and ADT readily accessible in a spreadsheet or patron database. This info will have multiple uses. You can use it to help estimate your lift and for staffing purposes, since it is critical to understand how busy the floor might be should your COMPs decide to gamble before or after the show. 

Ideally, you’ll want to restrict the limited number of COMPs to players with a higher ADT. If your database is separated into tiers, always award the top two tiers first. This will achieve two very important objectives. First, it will reinforce your top player’s gaming behavior. Second, it will effectively show the lower level players that there is value in being a high-level player by dangling a carrot. Plus, all players love to talk. Use the reward envoy to your advantage.  After all, a meet and greet with Ringo Starr, Darius Rucker, or Dave Chappel isn’t typically awarded to just anyone. No matter what happens, avoid awarding COMPs the first couple weeks after a show goes on sale to the public (regardless of popularity or demand). In fact, if it is a popular celebrity, the longer you wait for the better.

Even though the play from the night of the show isn’t always going to be incremental, it still counts, therefore, it can be directly attributed to the performance. Just make sure you aren’t counting that money before it is spent. Always scale the price levels to break even before you consider any hypothetical gaming revenue. The best way to decide how many COMPs you should allocate to your top VIPs is by using the 80 – 20 rule. This means that your casino should sell at least 80% of your tickets, and the remaining 20% should be a combination of different types of COMPs depending on what ticket types you have programmed in your cloud-based ticketing system. The fewer COMPs you allocate, the more your VIPs will want to play up to earn them. 

HOW CAN I GET FREE CONCERT TICKETS?

The most common type of casino concert COMPs are:

  1. VIP – Your players keep the doors open and the lights on – give them good seats
  2. Employee – Raffle 2 front row tickets for your employees – This has immeasurable return               
  3. Affiliate – It is ok to have a small number of seats held important affiliates 
  4. Artist – Depending on venue size casino acts will request up to 20 COMPS or more
  5. Press & Media – Consider a few pairs of COMPs for radio promotions 
  6. Trouble Seats – We recommend you hold 1 – 2 pairs of trouble seats for, well trouble
  7. Sponsor – Companies like Coke will sponsor concerts in exchange for COMPs and worthwhile branding opportunities/impressions

COMPs can be your best friend and your long-lasting worst enemy. If previous or current management has decided to fill the room with COMPs every time a concert doesn’t sell, it can take years to correct the over COMP habit. Some venue operators may say there is value in having an extra 300 players otherwise empty seats. But the truth is the further you dig in the database to COMP the less desirable the tickets become and the less likely they are to show up. Also, the venue will start to look desperate, and eventually, guests will see no value in your COMP. Some venues over COMP since the average redemption is between 60-75% but that can be risky too. For example, if your venue usually COMPs 250 tickets every show and on average only 200 players show up, you can offer 300 COMPs if you want to risk a possible overbooking. A better strategy would be to monitor players who aren’t redeeming their COMPs over time and adjust your offerings accordingly. You don’t want to tell a million-dollar player that you aren’t awarding a COMP anymore (especially if their play warrants it), but you can tell them you are going to reduce their four tickets to two based on their poor attendance habits. Always have a discussion with your players before removing any of their regular COMPs. For the most part, high-level players understand that they are being wasteful. Monitoring the COMP attendance can also be used to your advantage when deciding what shows to book. Simply put, the more VIPs in attendance, the more they liked the show. That gives you a solid reference to the type or genre of shows your core demographic enjoys.

HOW CAN I GET FREE TICKETS?

Rewarding your players, radio partners, affiliates, and sponsors with a COMP should be used to reinforce an existing relationship. If you are a casino using COMPs for some sort of acquisition, you could be spinning your wheels. Historically, outsiders with no preexisting stake in your facility will look to take advantage of it as they typically see tribal casinos as a cash machine. The reality is most non-gaming professionals and casino talent buyers do not understand the process, value, policies, or regulations of handling and distributing COMPs. Understanding these complexities takes years of dedication and gaming experience to comprehend. Nearly all casino Talent buyers are oblivious to the Comp’s true purpose (and that’s okay) but at SEG we pride ourselves in being multifaceted casino talent buyers with a bias for understanding and implementing comprehensive ticketing strategies.

All casino COMPs are part of a check and balance system. This means that the COMP will be paid for twice. 

CHECK:

The first way a COMP is paid for is on the front end where the player spends enough to be awarded it. Like we said earlier, the value is based on the aforesaid reinvestment strategy.

BALANCE:

The second way it is paid for is on the back end where the marketing or accounting department transfers money internally to pay for the perceived value you’ve awarded. You cannot give out a COMP without the value being accounted for inter-departmentally.

HOW DOES THIS REALLY WORK?

This works like players accrued points on their player’s club card. The actual amount being charged to the department is usually less than the amount of the COMP spent on the floor.

FINALLY:

In closing, there is more than one way to handle COMPs in a casino concert setting. Additionally, there are some best practices and common regulations to consider. We recommend creating a structure as early as possible. To start, try identifying and monitoring who is allowed to COMP. This will help prevent your venue manager and employees from offering freebies to their constituents or family. You can encourage ethical behavior by offering a discounted ticket type for employees, friends, and family. Lastly, purchasing a box office check-in program will help you coordinate VIP RSVPs and redemption/attendance. If you are unsure about what to do next contact SEG for help and avoid any casino talent buyer who does not recommend using COMPs conservatively.

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