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Solverde Hospitality Beyond Borders, Espinho-Chaves-Algarve

José Manuel Xambre, Casino Director at Solverde, S.A. speaks to Peter White

How important is hospitality and entertainment to the Leisure Hotel Casino?

The hospitality and events organized by Casino Chaves are of the utmost importance to the success of the project carried out in the region.

In addition to essential resources to enhance the profitability of the Casino, - Solverde’s core business in Portugal, - events also allow our integrated region to be boosted through a diverse schedule of gastronomic and musical events that otherwise would not be available.

The Hotel accommodation is an important tool for attracting customers to the casino, whether they are regular or walk-in.

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

The biggest payouts in the slots at Casino Chaves have been around €28.000. At this time, the highest award that the customers can play for is an amount just shy of €130.000.

Does the Casino Host Slot Tournaments?

Several times a year we organize free entry slot tournaments, that include attractive prizes, such as cars and travel. They are an interesting complementary tool to increase membership and use of the loyalty card Privilege Club, offering clear benefits for our customers.

Annually we always participate in the European Slot Championship, international slots tournament that has made our Casino internationally renowned.

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

The Solverde group is considered the founder of poker tournaments in Portugal, as it was the first casino group that initiated the operation of poker tournaments with the Solverde Poker Season brand. Ten years have passed since the first tournament, and the Solverde Poker Season has matured, becoming the largest and most prestigious poker circuit. It is recognized both nationally and internationally and attracts international players to our tables.

In addition, we provide weekly poker tournaments of lower buy-in, dubbed the Solverde Four Seasons Poker, and most recently opened a new Iberian poker circuit, ECT Poker Tour, which has been important in attracting Spanish customers.

We are proudly involved in the organization of three stages of the 2016 WPT - National Iberia with € 1.000.000 guaranteed.

The Casino Life Magazine team monitors many Casino operator websites to help us with our research for these interviews. The Solverde Casino website design reflects very well the glamour andfun aspect very well aspects of the business, with the information easily accessible from the site. Is this an area of the operation that has benefited from much research and development?

The marketing department is always looking ahead for the latest trends for that might enhance the planning and execution of the Solverde website, which is a very important means of communication with our customers.

The site provides information about various aspects of the Solverde Group’s business, from casinos, hotel reservations, events, poker tournaments, golf, to all our customer-related activities.

What have been the best performing slot machines and EGMs at the Casino?

The most popular slot machines in on the gaming floor are the video reel machines, and the more technologically advanced, the better. The Portuguese market is particularly technology orientated, as evidenced by penetration rates of many technologies in other areas of business, and casinos are no exception. The best performing machines overall are Aristocrat, Novomatic and IGT slots compared with the other installed manufacturers.

Has the Casino a cashless gaming option and, if so, is it operational on all gaming devices?

All slots in Casino Chaves use the EZPAY - TITO system from IGT, which is an important tool for the ease of operation and control of the slot floor. However, most importantly, it is easy for our customers to understand and use.

What would you say are some of the unique aspects about Solverde Casinos?

Solverde Casinos have unique aspects that clearly differentiate them from the competition, being the most notable of which is costumer relations. A strong investment in customer comfort and reception in our venues is the main focus, with complementary services such as hospitality and the exceptional quality of F&B to emphasize our strategy.

While the investment in the latest gaming equipment has been a major challenge, it has allowed the group to grow sustainably throughout its 42 years of existence.

Did you find time to attend ICE Totally Gaming this year and, if so, did anything catch your eye?

Every year, the Solverde group travels to the ICE fair to catch up with the latest news from the international gaming industry.

As previously mentioned, our main aim is to have the best, latest and most fun gaming technology available for our customers, and a specialty trade shows show like ICE is the place to be to discover future trends in gaming technologies.

The Casino Chaves always strives to acquire the latest products that can make the gaming experience as immersive as possible for our customers.

Could you provide an insight into the organisation’s approach to its Privilege and Rewards programme?

The Privilege Club is the loyalty card used by allSolverde Casinos. It is a major tool in our bid to provide customers unique advantages as well as providing Solverde valuable insights for shaping future marketing strategies. This card allows the holder to accumulate points each time he/she plays. The accumulated value can be used exclusively for the purchase of goods and services from within the Solverde group, ranging from consumption in bars and restaurants, hotel accommodation, entertainment shows and giveaways in Casinos, to exclusive articles from our Privilege Club Boutique, among others.

What are the most popular Table Games at Solverde Chaves?

The most popular table games at Casino Chaves are, beyond doubt, the American Roulette and BlackJack. We also explore the French Dice Table, which is a uniquely Portuguese game that maintains high rates of occupation among our customers for its speed and ease of play.

With the Casino located in the north of Portugal, ten kilometres from the Spanish Border, do you also cater for Spanish patrons? What is the ratio of locals to tourists and business visitors to Casino Chaves and is that representative across all the Solverde casinos or is it unique to your location?

The proximity to Spain to Casino Chaves, ensures easy access for Spanish customers to our venue, which has only parallel in is also the case for Solverde Group’s Casino of Monte Gordo on the border with Spain in the south of Portugal. Spanish customers are more likely to be attracted to table games rather than in the slots, as the Spanish market is liberalized with slots in cafes and bars - something that does not happen in Portugal.

Still, we have an interesting percentage of Spanish customers visiting us quite regularly as well as tourists, although the region in which we operate only recently began to be seen as a tourist destination of excellence in the north of the country.

The golf market, in which the Solverde Group is also closely involved, allows us to project the image of the group Solverde Casinos&Hotels across borders, with a strong component of attractiveness for our venues.

How do you see the prevailing Portuguese economic climate for 2016 and do you think there will be an increase in disposable income providing more opportunity for it to be spent in leisure and entertainment this year compared to last?

The political in change of recent months in Portugal is something that we follow with some concern, as it has direct influence on the profitability of the business. At this moment we are optimistic regarding the economic prospects for 2016 as economic indicators have shown some growth in the first months. However, with a minority government, the risks are still high that a political crisis could endanger the consumer optimism. Still, we are prepared to face what changes lie ahead and we will respond appropriately.

Value for money is an important factor in customer retention whether it’s buying a drink or having something to eat. How do Solverde Casinos’ prices for food and beverage compare with other Hotel Leisure Casinos in Portugal and Spain?

The food and beverage pricing strategy in the Solverde Casinos is to maintain a tight price alignment with our main competitors. However, we choose to differentiate ourselves through superior quality and product variety. It has been a winning strategy and recognized by all customers.

And finally, what are the main goals for 2016?

To continue to have our costumers pleased with our Casinos and Hotels. I strongly believe that the rest will follow as a means to achieve our goals!