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April 20, 2014

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Station Casinos turns to loyal customers to help boost its image

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Jennalyn Schilke, of Las Vegas, is among regular Station Casinos customers appearing in the company’s new ad campaign. The ads feature testimonials from local patrons.

Jennalyn Schilke started going to Station casinos at age 7, romping in the Kids Quest child centers while her parents went to the casino floors.

Now 23, she’s still a Station regular. You can often find her playing the slots at Station’s Fiesta Henderson.

"I've just always been around Station Casinos," she said. "It's always just been about having a lot of fun."

That kind of loyalty has helped Station Casinos remain a mainstay in the locals market over the years.

Now, Station is featuring longtime customers like Schilke in TV ads aimed at portraying the company as part of the community fabric in Las Vegas.

Schilke became part of the new promotions in the same way she became a Station customer — by tagging along with her mother. She was featured in the commercials, in which customers talk about how they spend their loyalty points, after accompanying her mother to an audition for the campaign.

"I didn't know I'd get picked," she said. "My mom was the one who actually got the invitation (to audition). She asked me if I wanted to go along, and I said, 'Sure.'"

Station casinos were built around the idea that not everyone in Las Vegas is a tourist and a lot of people in the city might like a casino closer to home than the Strip or downtown. Station expanded a bingo parlor on West Sahara Avenue into the Bingo Station in 1976, which eventually became Palace Station. The Frank Fertitta family added other Station casinos through the 1990s and finished Red Rock in 2006 as the first $1 billion casino aimed at the locals market.

David Schwartz, director of UNLV's Center for Gaming Research, said it wasn’t likely that getting lifelong customers was a long-term goal when Fertitta started Station.

"Frank Feritta saw a market that wasn't being served at the time, and he served it. Then, as Las Vegas grew, the company grew with it," Schwartz said. "Casino executives are more likely to market for this quarter than for the long term. If you walked into a boardroom and said you had a marketing plan for the next 60 years, you'd probably be laughed out. But when their customers say they want something, like a bowling alley or a movie theater, these casinos have provided that."

Station has survived a bankruptcy battle that ended with the Fertittas surrendering minority interest to their lenders. The company's ongoing battle with the Culinary Union over the union's efforts to unionize Station workers has been bitter, with both sides taking direct aim at the other in advertisements.

Station's new ads featuring Schilke and other loyal customers come on the heels of a campaign that characterized the Culinary Union’s actions as being bad for both Station and the Las Vegas economy. But company officials say the new promotions were unrelated to the Culinary campaign.

“Our ‘We Love Locals’ advertising campaign is all about what the title suggests, which is a celebration of the affection and appreciation we have for our loyal guests and that our guests have for our team members," said Lori Nelson, vice president of corporate communications for Station.

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  1. Part of the community fabric as in take your kids to the casino????? In an insane world the sane are insane and we do live in a huge insane world!!!!!

  2. Well said Jeff. They can appeal to locals all they want but when they treat employees with zero respect while the Brothers brag that they can write checks for millions (it's their casinos they should pay the bills) I sit out of Stations as you are.

  3. Employees don't want the union. They are treated as well or better than any casino in Vegas. Customers like Station because they give the best rewards (except possibly for South Point) and because it's easy to earn and redeem points. The Culinary thugs will never win, so they should just fold their tents and go home.

  4. Does anyone see a pattern to the above comments? While they profess to "love locals," Stations has the impression -- no, make that reputation -- for treating locals like crap. A good ad campaign is a start, which they don't have yet. Loosening up their machines, improving their customer service and giving better comps all need to be done to bring back the local market. I refuse to visit any Stations casino. I just don't like how I'm treated there. Stations has a long way to go.

  5. The owners of the Station Casinos have went union busting. Because, in the long run, it will save them money, affording more for profit.

    Their bottom line is making more and more and most and most profit they can. If they have to fight unions to make sure they keep the wages low to their employees, denying them health care coverage, removing collective bargaining off the table and other perks that the average working person of Nevada enjoys that unions provide so they don't get hammered to death unfairly, they will do it.

    Look at the incredible advertisement campaign that Stations Casino is throwing out there! They have decided to spend money to try to influence people to go against their best wishes. This decision was reached in order so they would reap millions of dollars profit to themselves.

    I can just imagine how the employees are treated right now.

    I guarantee if the employees at Station Casinos don't draw a line in the sand and say enough is enough, then look for years and years of unfair wages, no employee benefits and other predatory employer practices.

    From what is seen right now, Station Casinos have decided their employees aren't important. To them they want the profit, and if an employee gets in the way because they want fair treatment, too bad. They're gone. The way they think, they can get someone else.

    Fight them now. Because if you don't and roll over, you're playing their game. There is absolutely no excuse for unfair treatment at work. Union is the way to go.

  6. Maybe the people in the food service side might want a union, but the dealers sure don't.

    I'm not a slot player, so I can't really speak to the machines being tight or not. I like to play low-limit poker and have no complaints about Stations poker rooms. And now that Stations has opened up the rewards system so poker players earn status points it's even better.

  7. JeffFromVegas,

    The process you propose would be a "secret ballt" vote on a union....which is exactly what Station Casinos management has agreed to.

    The issue is that the Culinary wants a "card check" process where instead of each employee getting to vote in private, they sign cards. This process is not done in private and their votes are not secret. The process is open to massive abuse by the Union since workers are under huge pressure to sign if confronted by a large group of pro-union co-workers and a union organizer or two. There's no real potention for management abuse since there is no card to sign for "I don't want a Union". In a card check system once 51% of employees choose to (or get pressured to) sign cards...the Union wins.

    So ask the Culinary Union if they will accept a secret ballot vote on organizaion at Station Casinos. You'll find their answer to ne "No. We want a card check system only."

  8. No disclaimer about the close relationship between the Fertitas and the Greenspuns?

  9. I support Station and the unwillingness to negotiate with illegal invaders.