English French German Italian Portuguese Russian Spanish

Barrière, the French leader

Eric Cavillon, General Manager Casinos & Development Casinos of group Barrière, speaks to Peter White

What would you say are some of the additional unique aspects about Barrière Casinos that set them apart from their rivals?

The Barrière group is France’s leading casino group with an overall market share of around 35%. In total, our casinos accounted for nearly ten million customer entries in 2015. What makes us unique? The Group is notable by the size and richness of its facilities. Six of the top ten French casinos belong to Barrière. We have casinos in the most beautiful French destinations such as; Deauville, Cannes, Paris and Enghien-les-Bains. Our casino in Enghien is the market leader in France, with a turnover exceeding 160 million euros in 2015. We also have the largest casino in Switzerland, in Montreux, a casino in Cairo, Egypt and we will soon open the casino of Abidjan in the Ivory Coast. What differentiates us from our competitors is this Barrière mark, a culture of hospitality, inherited from the Group’s other businesses: hotels and restaurants. Barrière is also the subtle blend of the best location, top-of-the-range decoration, a vast offer of gaming and leisure activities and a personal service and at the same time both discreet and always listening. Barriere’s marketing is of the level of what is practiced in other industries with a CRM and digital application.

Barrière website packs an impact and is very stylish. Clearly the brand is an important part of the Barrière Hotel Leisure operations marketing mix.

To design our new website we have looked a great deal at what is done in France, abroad but also in other industries other than that of gaming. Our digital presence is based on three complementary tools: the new website www.casinosbarriere.com, dedicated to the conquest of new customers, the mobile application dedicated to loyalty linked to our system of CRM “Carré Vip” and a free-to-play game and finally the social networks, Instagram and Facebook in particular. Our new website has 3 objectives:

• Increase digital traffic by recruiting new customers and increasing service and experience for loyal customers in casinos. Indeed, digital is often a tool of transformation; through teaching videos it lets people dream.

• Develop online sales by the sale of gift boxes and vouchers, ticketing shows, booking restaurants and hotels as an extension of the Barrière experience.

• Develop the use and experience of Barriere Casinos by making them more and more interactive to share the Casinos Barriere experience.

What is involved in your role of Chief Operating Officer?

I am the General Manager of the Barrière Group Casinos and a member of the Group’s Management Committee. I have three regional managers in my team, each of whom supervises about ten casinos and I am also responsible for the Group‘s Casino Games Management, Marketing, Development and Security. I work in collaboration with all the functional support teams of the group, that is to say the HR, Finance, Communication, Technical, Legal and so on.

I set, with my teams, the marketing strategy and the gaming offer. I report directly to Mr. Dominique Desseigne, CEO of the group and propose the strategy and prospects of the Casino business to the Board of Directors. I travel frequently to company sites to meet those who are closest to our customers and I am in regular contact with all our regulatory authorities. I am also vice president of the professional trade body, Casinos de France.

What aspects of your role do you find most satisfying?

I appreciate being able to develop and deploy a strategy with my teams, to convince and see our actions succeed. I like to go out and into the field and discover new talent at all levels, to see the enthusiasm and involvement of our Directors and their teams. Management and exemplarity are the key to success in my opinion. Development is also a part of my activities that I find particularly interesting.

When times are hard, I like to be responsive and to overcome obstacles. I like challenges.

What are the main goals for Barrière 2017

Following 2015, marked by significant market share gains, 2016 has been a year of transition with a significant strategic refocusing through the sale of 9 casinos and investments concentrated on digital communication and new mobile media.

In 2017, Barrière intends to continue its marketing, animation, gaming and renovation efforts to defend and / or improve where possible our market share:

1. Intensification of the development of the offer: tests of new games, diversification of the offer of slots and electronic games;

2. Continued deployment of its new “Carré VIP” loyalty program with 8 new casinos equipped this year (making a total of 19 out of 28 French casinos); and

3. Continuation of the digital transformation at the level of existing casinos with new developments on the site and through the application “Barriere Pocket Casino” released at the end of October 2016.

Renovation work is also planned at Deauville, Royan and La Rochelle casinos, as well as the creation of smoking terraces in Toulouse, Cassis and Lille.

Finally, in the spring of 2017, the Group will inaugurate its first casino in sub-Saharan Africa, Casino Barrière Abidjan, the only casino in Côte d’Ivoire, just next to the Sofitel Ivoire.

How important is hospitality and entertainment to Barrière?

The Group has developed unrivalled offerings in the field of high-end leisure activities, based on operational excellence, quality of service and French style of living. Today, there are 33 Barrière casinos, including the one opening in Abidjan, 17 Barrière hotels, mainly 5 star and more than 120 restaurants and bars, including the famous Fouquet’s in Paris which has also been established in Cannes, La Baule, Marrakech and Toulouse. We offer more than 3,000 shows and animations per year. Casino gambling is the Group’s principal business with more than 70% of turnover and we are leaders in our market. Having many prestigious hotels helps us in terms of image and also in our relations with local authorities.

The Group also enjoys a strong reputation in the catering business with nearly two million meals served yearly. Being mainly integrated into the Group’s hotels or casinos, restaurants account for more than 11% of the Group’s turnover. The Group is also present in well-being with 13 spas (Cannes, Courchevel, Deauville, Dinard, Enghien-les-Bains, Lille, Marrakech, Paris, Ribeauvillé), one thalassotherapy centre in La Baule , one balneotherapy in Ribeauvillé, but also in sport with three golf courses, two tennis clubs with more than 32 clay courts and we are partner to many horse shows (Races, polo, jumping), and are distinguished through destinations located in tourist resorts of international renown.

We are a global player in the leisure and entertainment industries.

Can you provide readers an insight into the Le Carré VIP Barrière programme?

The Carré-VIP program was launched in November 2014. In a market in decline, where the customer is constantly solicited by more and more efficient systems in the leisure markets such as airlines and hotels, recognition of the customer, was a priority. With the program “Le Carré VIP Barrière”, the major evolution, identified by work groups, was to set up a system of rewarding players according to their spending and not according to their frequency of visits.

The Carré-VIP program had 3 primary objectives:

• Develop a detailed knowledge of customer behaviour

• Develop the value of clients

• Develop a strong attachment to the Barrière brand, the basis of the new fidelity.

To date, eleven Barrière casinos have deployed the Carré-VIP program. By 2017, eight additional casinos will be fitted out, making a total of 19.

What is the highest pay out for slots that the group operate, and what have been the biggest pay outs won in recent years at the Casino?

The highest amount paid by one of our casinos was 7.5 M€ at the Casino Barrière Saint Raphael in July 2013 on one of our linked multi-site slot machines. The Magic Casino Jackpot was one of the world’s largest linked jackpots and connected around 300 slots in 100 casinos. Today, the highest jackpot that can be won is of around 1M€ that can be found in the Deauville casino

Is the cashless gaming option operational on all gaming devices at Barrière Casinos?

Today the cashless systems are installed in nearly all our casinos. We still have some slots that accept coins as there is quite a lot of customer demand for this type of offer.

Slot Machines - Casino Barrière Menton 

What are the most popular table games?

In general, the American games are very successful. The recent introduction of Ultimate Poker, for example, is something that works very well for us.

Does Barrière host Slot Tournaments?

Slot machine tournaments have just been authorized in France. We had been among the “Tests Establishments” with the Casino Barrière Blotzheim. The trial had a great success. For 2017, these gaming systems, like the linked slots jackpot, for example, are part of our planned investments.

How popular is the Barrière Poker Tournament and do you welcome participants from across Europe. Also how much is the winning prize money?

The first tournaments were organized by the group in 2007 and they have continued to evolve year on year in order to satisfy our customers. We have also previously organized nine EPT’s at Deauville as well as the WSOPs twice at Cannes and then in Enghien. Today, we continue to organise tournaments with Pokerstars, the France Pokerstars series and a national WPT. The 2016 season of the Barrière Poker tournament ended this year after a series of seven dates in France, in Deauville at the beginning of November. Our tournaments are always very successful and attract a European clientele who often cross borders (Belgium / Lille, Italy, South- East, Spain / Toulouse...).

What percentage across the Casino operations of Barrière are local versus tourist and business people?

The distribution of customers depends very much on the type of the establishments, depending on whether it is an urban casino or a resort casino. The Casino de Deauville, for example, a seaside resort located 200 km from Paris, records 50% of visits with the local population and 50% with Parisians. It is quite different for casinos such as Bordeaux, Toulouse or Enghien les Bains, the biggest casino in France, located 14km to the north of Paris and which has had a predominantly local population catchment area but which also counts on an important flow of tourists or business customers thanks to our Resort operations. In Enghien-les-Bains, for example, we have two hotels, an auditorium with 200 seats, modular meeting rooms various restaurants, a 3,500 sq m health and sports centre and spa, a theatre of 600 seats, ... and of course the Casino, which allows us to host a population both leisure and business and to propose multi-activity packages and to set up bridges between our different businesses.


Have you been to the Totally Gaming ICE this year? What did you think about it?

I go to London every year; I appreciate being able to meet all the decision makers of the profession. You can judge the evolutions of the equipment and the developments of the games. My Games Management and Marketing teams also go there. Since my appointment to the position of DG Casinos Group, the Casino Directorship also goes to G2E Las Vegas. In my opinion, it is important to keep ones eyes peeled on the world of gaming, which evolves very quickly.


An electronic roulette in the Casino Barrière Enghien-les bains

What good causes does Barrière support?

Barrière is closely associated with the world of arts and culture. The Barrière Fondation, which supports contemporary artistic creation, illustrates this cultural commitment since 1999.

Every year, our Corporate Foundation awards the “Writing ...for the screen and the stage” award in two categories: cinema and theatre. The objective is to help and promote the emergence of new talents and to support the diffusion of works. For the first category, candidates must present a feature film, original work completed; for the second, a dramatic work, written in French. Encouraging creativity also involves raising awareness among professionals: producers, distributors and theatre directors. Each of the two juries is composed of a dozen recognized, demanding and well known personalities. At stake? The sum of 31,000 euros: 8,000 euros is the prize for the winner and 23,000 euros for the promotion of his work. To date, nearly 30 projects have received support from the Foundation.

We also have a Foundation in Switzerland. The Casino Barrière Montreux Foundation aims to support, in the Casino Barrière Montreux attendance area, non-profit public utility initiatives carried out by public or private organizations in the following fields: Culture (music, theatre , Pictorial arts, cinema), Social, Sport or Tourism.

The Barrière is also a partner of the Association “Les Bouchons d’Amour” since 2001. This charity aims to collect plastic bottle tops from various containers, mainly water and soft drink bottles, (www.bouchonsdamour. com) and sell them at a price of € 210 per tonne to a recycling company. All the proceeds from these sales are then donated in France for the benefit of handicapped people in order to help them purchase equipment that is often too expensive or for occasional humanitarian operations. Abroad, the association participates in various humanitarian operations. Diane Barrière-Desseigne was severely handicapped as a result of her plane crash in 1995. Notwithstanding the difficulty of her own situation, she had been moved by the courage of persons who, in the same situation as her, were confronted with many other obstacles. It is in her memory that Mr Desseigne and through him, the Barrière group wished to engage with the association Bouchons d’Amour.

This is a partnership that naturally fits with the Group’s overall corporate responsibility strategy. A commitment and an awareness shared by our 7000 employees who every day and throughout the year collect bottle tops. Together we have harvested more than 255 tons of plastic in 15 years.

How closely do you work with your marketing team on gaming promotions?

Marketing is one of the essential parts of the business. So I’m very involved in defining the marketing strategy. I look very much at what the competition is doing but above all I study innovations in all sectors and wonder how best practices can be applied to our profession. Marketing is, in my view, a subtle blend of global strategic vision and local operational sensitivity and both are necessary. That’s why I like to go to the field, see what slots work, talk to the managers of establishments about their feelings about a particular operation, discuss with clients and so on.

Restaurant - Casino Barrière Menton

What elements on the gaming floor in your opinion present the biggest challenges and opportunities?

I would say principally the Electronic games because they combine the immediacy of slot machines with the mathematics of traditional gaming. The challenge ahead is to interest the Millennials to our offers, the electronic games and the skill games even though...these are not yet authorized in France...as these are very attractive and correspond to the current demand. In terms of the future, e-sport and on-line games in general represent the main paths for the future. Our Partner Webedia, via our shareholder Fimalac, is already very involved in this market.

2016 Film prize of the Fondation Barrière, “Five”

Having been a line employee and in customer service, how do you think that shapes you now?

I am familiar with the field, have worked in many operational roles and worked for several Casinos groups in France. This allows me to have a clear overview of the market, the business and its evolution, to understand the basic needs of our Customers today and – hopefully  – tomorrow...

Peter White

In addition to his role as Publisher, Peter also undertakes interviews with leading Casino operators. He has travelled extensively over the course of 16 years, visiting Casinos World Wide as well as attending the leading gaming industry exhibitions and conferences. Peter is also Vice President, International Operations for leading US based Gaming industry consultancy, WhiteSand Gaming LLC and a Director at Screentrade Media Ltd a leading International Publisher specialising in the Cinema Industry.