Rather than roll the dice on a name befitting its location on the Mississippi River, Pinnacle Entertainment opted to call its $357 million casino and hotel L’Auberge, the name of its 6-year-old property in Lake Charles.
“We explored a variety of different names—some entirely new and different, some reminiscent of the gaming experience,” says Ginny Shanks, executive vice president of marketing for the Las Vegas-based company. “We kept coming back to the fact that we have a market-leading property in Louisiana with ‘L’Auberge.'”
Pinnacle’s L’Auberge du Lac, off Interstate 210 on the Calcasieu River, is French for “inn on the lake,” a nod to southwest Louisiana’s Cajun roots, Shanks says. The property, which caters to Texas residents, includes a 1,000-room hotel, the Tom Fazio-designed Contraband Bayou Golf Club at L’Auberge, a salon and spa, a pool and lazy river, numerous bars and restaurants, and 30,000 square feet of gaming.
In April, the property pulled off a rare feat for a riverboat casino—winning more money than Harrah’s in New Orleans. The boat won $30.3 million, while the land casino won $29.3 million.
“It’s been very popular and well received there,” Shanks says.
Baton Rouge’s property has been without a name since late 2008 or early 2009, when Pinnacle backed away from Riviere, the casino and hotel’s original name.
The renaming process began in January, Shanks says, and included a list of nearly 100 names. Some of the names were eliminated in-house, and others were found to be trademarked.
Pinnacle then hired an external research firm with experience in the gaming industry to conduct an online survey, which was sent to people in Baton Rouge and New Orleans who frequent the company’s other Louisiana properties, including Boomtown Casino in Harvey and Boomtown Hotel & Casino in Bossier City.
The survey described the property’s amenities, including a single-level, 30,000-square-foot gaming floor with 1,500 slot machines and 51 table games, including a poker room; a 206-room hotel with a rooftop pool; a multipurpose event center with concert seating for up to 1,400 people or banquet seating for up to 800 people; a covered parking garage; and unique dining and entertainment venues overlooking the river.
More than 100 people responded, Shanks says, and most ranked “L’Auberge” outright or included it in their top two. She did not divulge other possible names that were on the survey.
“There’s a lot of familiarity with the name and a positive association with the Lake Charles property,” Shanks says. “Based on this, we decided, ‘We have a strong brand. Let’s leverage it.'”
For nongamers, choosing “L’Auberge” might sound like an unimaginative default. But Shanks says the Lake Charles property, a high-end resort meant to compete with Las Vegas casinos and not with local facilities, means something to the new casino’s target market.
“It’s known for its level of service, and we’ll be able to replicate this,” she says. “The quality of the offering in Baton Rouge will be similar to the quality in Lake Charles.”
ASK THE EXPERTS
Q: What do you have to keep in mind with naming a new business?
“Corporate naming is one of the most difficult processes a company can go through, and to work, it must be a subjective process. More than anything, what you have to do is make sure you’re delivering on your brand promise. So if they’re extending a luxury brand, they’re going to need to make sure it measures up.”
Sarah Kracke, Founder, Kracke Consulting
Q: Is there any danger of extending a brand name from a smaller market?
“I don’t think [customers] will equate the name with a casino in a smaller market, but with a brand that’s been an upscale brand. It’s a good idea, and it makes perfect sense. They have a brand equity built up in that name, especially having underwritten LSU’s postgame shows.”
Jeff English, Owner, Creative English Communication Consultants
Q: What does the current L’Auberge brand promise say to you?
“That it’s a luxury brand, a high-end casino and a destination. They’ve had an effective campaign that can easily be extended to Baton Rouge.”
Shelly Dupré, Managing director, Impact Management Group Louisiana