Northern Quest Resort & Casino Wins Prestigious Marketing Award


One award in the casino industry recognizes the marketing efforts of tribal casinos, and acknowledges their importance in the success of a gaming enterprise. Created eight years ago, the prestigious Barona/VCAT Award for Excellence in Indian Gaming Marketing was awarded to Northern Quest Resort & Casino, Airway Heights, Wash., at a special industry luncheon on January 28, at Harrah’s Resort Southern California, Valley Center, Calif., during Raving’s 17th Indian Gaming National Marketing Conference.

Dennis Conrad, president and chief strategist for Raving Consulting, and creator of the award said, “How does a casino become the place that inspires visitors to say, ‘I want to work here!’ or ‘I want to play here!’? Northern Quest has received this marketing award because, ultimately, they understand that the best marketing plans and the use of technology will only be successful when their entire organization embraces it.”

At the award luncheon during the conference, tribal casino executives and industry suppliers watched a comprehensive video that highlighted the last three years of Northern Quest’s internal and external marketing campaign, based on the simple message that each and every one of their 1,500 team members’ goal was to “make people feel special.”

The video included ad campaigns, both back of the house and public, using their own employees and comedic actors. It explained their use of innovative marketing tools that were not only profitable, but most importantly, built brand loyalty and guest satisfaction. Examples included being the first casino in Washington to partner with the Washington Lottery on a second chance slot tourney and utilizing a bonusing system that focused on, and randomly rewarded, and delighted guests who were playing at slot machines without their players club card.

Each year a tribal artisan is selected to create a custom Barona/VCAT award, which has included a hand painted canoe paddle, feast bowl, and other wood carvings. This year’s award was created out of a 250-year-old Redwood by returning artist, Nathan Hart, a Cheyenne sculptural artist from Oklahoma. Its sister piece was on exhibit at the Denver Art Museum, and is now on exhibit at the University of Denver. The winner also receives three full conference passes to Raving’s long-running Indian Gaming National Marketing Conference – a staple for tribal casinos throughout the U.S. and Canada, which encompasses two and a half days of presentations, workshops, networking events, and a tradeshow.

Jennifer Johnson, director of loyalty marketing for Northern Quest, submitted an essay on behalf of her team. “We were overwhelmed with the amazing conversations and collaboration that came out of being the award recipients. The entire conference was one of the best experiences for our team.”

RELATED: Adding a Native Voice to Historic Route 66

Northern Quest was among seven total tribal gaming properties that submitted entries this year:

Gila River Casinos, Arizona

Lake of the Torches Resort Casino, Wisconsin

Little River Casino Resort, Michigan

Prairie Band Casino & Resort, Kansas

Rosebud Casino, Nebraska

Route 66 Casino Hotel - Laguna Development Corporation (LDC), New Mexico

Route 66 Casino Hotel and Little River Casino Resort were each acknowledged with a “Contender Award” for their highly competitive submissions.

Northern Quest Resort & Casino joins industry leaders Barona Resort and Casino, CA (2007), Santa Ana Star Casino, NM (2008), Black Oak Casino and the Tuolumne Band of Me-Wuk Indians, CA (2009), Osage Million Dollar Elm Casinos, OK (2011), Seminole Casino Coconut Creek, FL (2012), Cache Creek Casino Resort, CA (2013), and Lucky 7 Casino, CA (2014), in receiving the award.

The competition is open to all class II and class III tribal casinos in the U.S. and Canada. Participants are asked to provide a compelling essay addressing how their casino links superior marketing efforts to superior financial performance; builds marketing excellence around key constituencies of customers, employees and communities; and integrates marketing effectively throughout their entire casino operation.

Northern Quest will be the final recipient of the Barona/VCAT Award for Excellence in Indian Gaming Marketing -- the organizers are retiring the award, and creating a more comprehensive awards program for 2016 in order to stimulate interest and recognize excellence in other individual areas of Tribal casino marketing.

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