Two major casinos have rebranded in Las Vegas in the past few months. The Las Vegas Hilton dropped their affiliation with the hotel chain and became “Las Vegas Hotel”, or LVH for short. Fitzgeralds also changed its name. The new name for this hotel is now The D. Being the SEO nit that I am, both of these name changes have bothered me.
Las Vegas casinos seem to do a poor job marketing themselves on the internet. Some have yet to even set up Facebook or Twitter pages. Some of these casinos just seem to be stuck in the past, with no way for their players to find them, or find their latest offers that may draw them in for their next vacation. Many people reserve their hotel rooms over the internet. If potential guests cannot find them, the casino will never get that reservation. If the reservation is never made, there will also be a loss of gambling and other revenue.
There has always been the debate among SEO experts about whether it is better to brand yourself, or go after a keyword as a domain. Here is an example of one keyword domain, and one branded domain. Both of these brands are going to run into trouble marketing themselves on the internet.
Las Vegas Hotel
I cannot think of a worse name for a hotel in Las Vegas. There is no value in this brand. Every TV station and newspaper reported about the Las Vegas Hilton’s name change. There were countless news articles that were essentially free advertising for their new brand. Instead of coming up with a creative new brand, one that potential guests might have remembered, they decided on the most generic term possible.
“Las Vegas Hotel” is a highly sought after search term, but they did not go after that domain, likely due to the money it would have taken to purchase it. Considering the company was bankrupt, and cannot even afford to replace their sign on Paradise Rd, attempting to place for that search term was going to be a major challenge. I could not even find their Twitter or Facebook accounts without going to their website. I would have had a hard time finding their website if I did not know to look for the abbreviation. Without a sign on the road, passersby may not even know what the place is called anymore, which means that they would have no idea what to even search for to find the hotel’s website or social media accounts.
Social media is a free way to advertise to people that have essentially signed up to receive a company’s advertising, or a way for people to find promotions. Using a brand that is difficult to find among the millions of users is a major obstacle to overcome. From looking at the LVH numbers on Twitter, I assume that they were able to move their previous followers, or they advertised to their Las Vegas Hilton followers to follow the new name. The @LVHHotelCasino has over 27,000 followers. They are following over 25,000 people though, which seems unusual to me and probably helped pad the numbers. Bellagio, with over 32,000 followers, is only following 89 people on Twitter.
Fitzgeralds has decided to rebrand to “The D”. While I love their marketing ideas, and their advertising campaign, the brand issue is a problem on the internet. People looking for The D on Google are never going to find the website. A Google search of “The D” does not come up with anything related to the casino. Adding Las Vegas to the search comes up with news stories, but the website is the bottom spot on page 1. That should improve over time, but this should have been resolved before the casino’s brand was changed. This brand is also nearly impossible to find on Facebook and Twitter. Their Facebook page only has 465 likes, about half that many follow the Twitter account @theDlasvegas.
Do not get me wrong here, I really like what is going on with The D. I especially like the idea of transforming the upstairs into a retro casino. I just think they could have chosen a name that could be found easier in social media and Google.
Maybe both of these properties will prove me wrong. If one of them does, it will probably be The D with their ideas and offline marketing. My last two trips to LVH to check on their sports book were troubling. The place was nearly vacant, and the sports book is not what it used to be. I was there to pick up the book of prop bets for the Super Bowl. I went there twice, and they were out of the prop bet sheets both times so I gave up. I have not been back since.
Hopefully LVH can overcome all of their problems. I hate seeing anyone’s business fail, especially with so many jobs depending on it. If the LVH cannot overcome their financial problems, that would make two Las Vegas Monorail stops out of seven that would be essentially vacant.