There are huge airfare price wars happening around the world right now. In Las Vegas, Allegiant and JetBlue are fighting it out on flights from Long Beach California to Las Vegas McCarran Airport – with flights from around $19 one way, or $59 return. It’s crazy money, and you’ve got to wonder just how the airlines manage to make any money on those fares. It’s a deep discount in the hope of impressing new customers, and keeping them in the longer term when fares will be increased and profit margins grown. It’s a risky strategy: advantage players like myself may well take on these very cheap flight specials, but simply not travel when prices are increased to normal levels. Of course, not everyone’s a “frugal gambler” like myself. Funny, I’ll bet $100 a hand on blackjack no problems – but pay $50 for a hotel room? Never! It must be comped!
Just when I thought nothing could beat the Las Vegas airfare specials, AirAsia (www.airasia.com) decides to start flying to New Zealand from Malaysia in 2011, with launch airfare specials of just $58 NZD each way plus taxes. They will sell out quickly I’m sure, but when I looked an hour or so ago, there were plenty of AirAsia seats from Christchurch International Airport, New Zealand, to Kuala Lumpur International Airport, Malaysia, at the bargain price of around $170 NZD return, including all taxes! That pricing is nuts! At this promotional airfare, I can fly to Malaysia from New Zealand more cheaply than flying from Auckland to Invercargill. In reality, it will probably cost me more to get the taxi to the airport than it will to fly to Malaysia! Wow.
I’m sure you’re thinking “That’s all well and good – but why does it matter for casino players”? It’s pretty simple. With airfares as cheap as this, it makes the battle for casino players more intense. When airfares were $1700 NZD return to Malaysia, the thought of taking a long weekend to the Malaysia casinos in the Genting Highlands would never have amounted to anything more than a thought – and so I’d just play in my local, poor-comping casino, over the weekend. As a gambler, I’m time poor, but cash rich – but being frugal, I don’t want to pay large sums for travel. At $170 return, Malaysia has now become an option for that short break. For me that’s less than two hands of blackjack.
What that means is simple: the cheaper flights get, the more choice casino players have about where to play in the world, and when. They can follow the best deals, they can find good hosts in those locations who will still honour them as international players (even though they paid the cost of a good meal out or two for their return flights), and they can visit their favourite casinos and locations more often. Gamblers are often more relaxed on holiday, so play more. That means they may spend more (or win more) also – so there is risk for the casinos, but in all likelihood those casinos will win more money. And that extra play, financed by the savings on airfares, equates to a better player betting profile, which equates to a higher theoretical win on the visit by the casino, which equates to better comps for the player. It’s a win-win situation overall for all.
Next time you’re thinking “should I go to my local casino in the weekend”, start thinking bigger. Check out the current airfares to casino destinations you love or have always wanted to visit – with current airfare price wars you may find a bargain. If you’ve got the time available, a holiday overseas will always beat one in your local country – a change of climate, culture, and casino decor and style. And yes, I do follow my own advice. I’m off to Malaysia in June at a bargain price, for a long weekend of relaxation, shopping, and gambling.
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