ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) — For people and groups planning to stay in Atlantic City, the resort’s main union for casino workers is warning that “labor disputes” could occur if the casinos don’t agree to new contracts by a May 31 deadline.
The move comes at the start of what will be a crucial season for Atlantic City’s casinos in the third year of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The union’s goal is to keep workers from falling behind in an economy where labor shortages are increasing salaries in other industries, yet inflation is eating away at consumers’ purchasing power. Earlier this month, the union said it is seeking “significant” wage increases in the upcoming contracts to help its members recover from the financial harm caused by the pandemic. It did not specify the amount of increase it is seeking.
Local 54 of the Unite Here union set up the website actravelalert.org listing other hotels that have union contracts in place and which travelers might want to consider using if new contracts aren’t reached or existing ones extended.
The website’s home page features a large photo of striking union members picketing outside the former Trump Taj Mahal casino in 2016, a labor dispute that ended with the casino closing. It has since reopened under new ownership as the Hard Rock.
The union is in the midst of contract negotiations with the nine Atlantic City casinos. The website represents an increase in pressure on the casinos, even as it risks harming the atmosphere during ongoing talks.
“We’re not threatening anybody,” said Bob McDevitt, the union’s president. “But we’re very serious about leveraging whatever we need to leverage to get our members a good contract.”
It was only last month that the nine casinos collectively surpassed the level of in-person gambling revenue they had before the pandemic started, although that result was due in part to extra weekend days in April 2022 compared with April 2019, and only five of the nine casinos posted higher revenue numbers over that period.
The casinos are counting on a strong summer to regain ground lost during the pandemic, which forced the casinos to close for 3 1/2 months in 2020, and kept operating restrictions in place until the middle of last year.
Executives representing five Atlantic City casinos did not respond to requests for comment Thursday on the union’s latest tactic.
Local 54 is currently negotiating with Caesars Entertainment, which owns Caesars, Harrah’s and the Tropicana, and MGM Resorts International, which owns the Borgata. It has reached agreements with the Ocean Casino Resort and Bally’s to abide by the terms of the contract negotiated by the two larger casino companies, McDevitt said.
McDevitt said Caesars and MGM “need to be reminded” of what can happen during a labor dispute in Atlantic City, including a strike. Billionaire investor Carl Icahn closed the Taj Mahal in 2016 after the union went on strike because health insurance and pension benefits were stripped from its members by a bankruptcy court.
“The reality is there are very few people at Caesars and no one at MGM that has any kind of institutional knowledge of what a conflict can be like here,” McDevitt said. “They need to know what could be coming.”Florida Deputy Charged After Biker Is ‘Cooked Alive’ in Dramatic Taser Arrest
Courtesy of Mark NeJameA Florida deputy has been charged after allegedly tasing a suspect who was pumping gas, touching off a fireball that caused third-degree burns across more than 75 percent of the man’s body, authorities announced Thursday.Jean Louis Barreto Baerga, 26, has been in the hospital and undergone six surgeries since the Feb. 27 incident, in which his attorney says he was literally “cooked alive.” Cops were attempting to arrest Barreto, a motorcyclist they say was riding reckless
Patrons and staffers at Rivers Casino Philadelphia can breathe easily: Smoking remains prohibited on the casino floor.
Without any public announcement, on April 29, the Fishtown gambling den decided to keep in place the casino smoking ban that was instituted in July 2020 by executive order of Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf. That edict was lifted a year later, but Rivers, along with Bensalem-based Parx and Mount Airy Casino Resort in the Pocono Mountains, never reverted back to allowing smoking in their gaming spaces. Under state law, Pennsylvania gaming halls can assign up to 50 percent of the casino floor for smoking.
Nonetheless, those opposed to the carcinogenic coping mechanism have not completely excised the activity from the 12-year-old entertainment complex: Those who indulge can still puff in peace on the patio of Jack’s Bar or outside designated entrances. If you’re wondering what a total ban looks like, take a look at some hospital campuses where there are no places, inside or outside, where smoking is ever allowed technically.
Executives at Rivers and its corporate parent, Rush Street Gaming of Chicago, have not been made available to the media in order to address the continuation of the ban. Instead, the casino released a terse statement:
“Rivers Casino Philadelphia has decided to extend its temporary ban on indoor smoking for now. An outdoor patio has been designated for smokers, and guests have complied without issue. Rivers Casino Philadelphia will continue to monitor feedback, which has been positive.”
Interestingly, the above paragraph suggests it isn’t a mortal lock that the last stogie has been smoked in Rivers’ casino: The phrase “for now” seems to imply the smoking ban isn’t yet cast in stone for all the ages; it’s logical to assume that if revenue declines and if it’s determined the cause is the prohibition of smoking, casino suits will at least discuss a change of direction.
Bucking history and popular perception
The move flies in the face of decades-long accepted wisdom that smoking goes with gambling as peanut butter goes with jelly. For instance, it’s widely held that the failure of Atlantic City’s Revel, now Ocean Casino-Resort, found its origins in fairly large part in its total ban on smoking throughout the property. Today, Ocean permits smoking in designated sections of the casino. As such, it has been an article of faith in the legal-gaming industry that prohibiting smoking on the casino floor would negatively impact the bottom lines of casinos that do so.
Or, so everyone thought.
However, according to CDC Gaming Report, both Mount Airy and Parx each earned more from in-person (as opposed to online) gambling during the first three months of 2022 than they did in the corresponding quarter in the pre-COVID year of 2019.
Is AyCee next?
Rivers’ move and the numbers from the other two properties could have an impact on the ongoing campaign to impose complete casino-floor smoking prohibition in Atlantic City’s nine casinos. Currently, those properties can set aside up to 25 percent of their gaming spaces for smokers.
Seashore casino operators insist such a ban would severely impact revenue, which in turn could cost thousands of employees their jobs. But those lobbying in favor of prohibition counter that the issue is not money but the health of casino-floor workers as well as patrons that’s on the line.
Polls have suggested that a solid majority of New Jersey adults favor total prohibition
Hard Rock hooks Rogan
Tickets are now on sale for the June appearances by controversial comedian/podcast superstar Joe Rogan at Hard Rock Hotel Casino Atlantic City.
Rogan and his “Joe Rogan Experience” podcast have emerged as culture-war lightning rods. Earlier this year, he was the subject of protests by those who objected to his providing a forum for COVID-19 disinformation – which led to several musical acts including Crosby, Stills & Nash and Neil Young – to remove their music from Spotify, a leading platform for the podcast. He also stirred the pot with his use of the N-word which, he insisted, was used in a specific context and not as a racial slur. Given that Rogan has said it dozens if not hundreds of times over a decade, people can decide whether or not there is a specific context warranting the word’s use.
Show time is 8 p.m. on both days. Tickets are available online.
‘Burlesque’ back at Borgata
The ninth annual edition of “The Burlesque Show” was supposed to debut at Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in April 2020. But a little thing called COVID-19 had other ideas, and the popular salute to the classic burlesque format of the mid-20th century was put on ice.
Finally, the show—which combines “tasteful” striptease turns with raunchy comedy—is back on the boards. The new season—billed as a “best of” compilation culled from the previous eight versions—debuted earlier this month at the Music Box theater and continues through the summer.
Although admission is limited to the over-21 crowd, be advised that the program doesn’t feature full nudity, which is prohibited by New Jersey law in any venue that offers alcoholic beverages. As such, the featured artists strip down to pasties and G-strings. Most reasonable folks feel his doesn’t affect the show.
This will be the first “Burlesque Show” not headlined by the hilarious Jeff Pirrami. The self-styled “fat rat bastard,” who was the heart-and-soul of the production (on- and off-stage), died of heart disease in 2020. He’s been replaced by standup comic Chris Morris, whom, promises creator-producer Allen Valentine, will follow in Pirrami’s dirty-joke-spewing footsteps, but with what he described as slightly less of an “edge.”
The revue runs Thursdays through the end of September. Show time is 9 p.m. Admission is $17.50.
Danza brings live act to Live!
Sitcom icon Tony Danza is headed to Live! Casino Hotel Philadelphia. Danza, who rose to stardom in a supporting role on “Taxi” and followed that with headliner success on “Who’s the Boss?” will perform at the South Philly gaming hall June 11.
In case you’re wondering what, exactly, Danza does in his live act, the program, dubbed “Standards & Stories,” will feature him showing off several talents he seldom, if ever, got to display on his TV shows: Look for him to perform songs in the Frank Sinatra vein, perform a few dance moves, and even play ukulele. Connecting each of these segments will be stories from his life and career.
If anything, it sounds like an interesting way to spend an evening. Plus, can you ever go wrong with a ukulele?
Show time is 8 p.m. Admission is $79-$59.
Lis Anderson is founder and director at PR consultancy AMBITIOUS and an agency MD with over 20 years in the communications industry.
As the famous quote from Warren Buffet goes, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.” Mr. Buffet offered this pearl of wisdom almost a decade ago. Since then, the digital revolution has well and truly taken over. And so, even though this quote still rings true today, I think it needs updating.
Thanks to the digital world, everything is faster. You can now build a reputation much faster, but you can also ruin it more quickly. Forget five minutes—try 0.5 seconds or however quickly you can click a mouse.
“Cancel culture” is rife, and it is not just celebrities who need to be careful. Business leaders and brands are also under fire. An errant tweet or damning online review can have huge repercussions on corporate reputation and, ultimately, a company’s bottom line . So, it’s time to get proactive about your online reputation. It’s something that needs to be built and continuously maintained. It’s not just about making sure the information about you, your company or sales messages are relevant, but about curating a digital presence that you are proud of and that resonates with your target audience. Think about the online reputation of your business as an ecosystem, which is only as strong as its weakest link:
The people at the top of a company are intrinsically linked to the company’s reputation. If their character comes under question, so do the companies they’re tied to. There is also an opportunity here. Your leadership can become brand advocates and contribute to the marketing effort with tailored and developed online profiles.
It goes without saying that the reputation of the brand itself online is critical. Your brand needs to be put in the best light possible, and all online communications need to be controlled and cleared for reputational risk.
Who you work with has a direct reflection on your business, too. Influencer marketing is incredibly popular, but do you really know how reputable the partners you work with are? Once you sign a contract, that influencer is a direct representative of your business and, therefore, their reputation becomes just as important as yours.
It can be hard to know where to start with so many different components to consider. What should be clear is that managing your online reputation is something that needs a proactive approach. You need to actively curate a favorable online presence—one that stands up to scrutiny and is defensible in the event of a reputational crisis. Here is how you can make a start:
Get a full view of how the public sees your brand.
Knowledge is power. Having the entire picture of how your business or leadership is viewed online is where you need to start. To build and protect your reputation, you need to have visibility of all open-source information regarding your business available. This will allow you to effectively map your online presence and identify both the opportunities and the threats. Find any negative product and Glassdoor reviews, seek out negative news articles or unfavorable Reddit threads. Knowing the reputational issues is where you need to start if you want to mitigate the risk.
Know your threats.
The digital dark arts are real. And no, it is not all troll farms and the dark web. It is much more likely that the threats to your reputation are from hostile journalists or targeted phishing attacks. You need to be aware of the threats that are out there and then have a contingency plan in place to mitigate those threats if they occur. Do you have an effective crisis communications plan? Do you have a cybersecurity response to a breach? What do you do in case of a data leak? These are all questions you should be asking yourself as a business leader.
Online perceptions can be contradictory to what your business is actually like. You therefore need to be proactive when it comes to your online profile. First, make sure you own everything when it comes to your brand name. Claim your Google My Business profile, lock down social channels and domains, and publish and tag up-to-date, high-quality imagery. You then need to take it a step further by optimizing all of your assets for search and start producing content regularly. Take control of the narrative online and start locking down the search results that matter to your business. You’ll then be well on your way to managing your online reputation effectively.
The field of online reputation management is growing. The demand is huge, and supply is just starting to catch up. As business continues to be done more and more online, being proactive about your online reputation is no longer something you can avoid. If you do, someone else will end up telling your business story. And it may not be one that you want to read.
Forbes Agency Council is an invitation-only community for executives in successful public relations, media strategy, creative and advertising agencies. Do I qualify?
Matt Earle is an entrepreneur based in Toronto, Canada, and is the President of Reputation.ca, an online reputation management company.
Word-of-mouth has always been a powerful marketing force and is still essential today. Customer reviews and social media posts are just words-of-mouth writ large.
Managing your business’s reputation relies on monitoring word-of-mouth recommendations and adjusting to the feedback they give. The key isn’t to be reactive, though; it’s wise to be proactive with your customer service to prevent negative word-of-mouth.
To do this, you need to monitor your customer service channels. Watch for problems—especially those beyond what single users experience, and extend proactive customer service to your customers.
Develop Organized Customer Service
The first thing you need to do is efficiently organize customer service. Consider the kinds of customer service inquiries you receive. Most of them will likely be user errors or simple problems that a tier 1 help desk agent can solve. Some will be more complex and relate to bugs, issues, features that don’t exist or issues with third parties (like shipping companies). These can be automatically escalated to a tier 2 support agent.
The larger and more complex your business, the more you will need to divide and triage your support requests. Small businesses may not need multiple tiers of support, while larger companies might benefit from chatbot-style initial filtering.
Investigate Customer Service Inquiries
Each time you get a customer service inquiry, categorize it and investigate it as necessary. Consider categories such as:
• Marketing: A coupon code doesn’t work, a marketer promised something the product can’t do, etc.
• User Error: They locked themselves out by mistyping their password, their monitor wasn’t turned on, etc.
• Bugs: Your product isn’t working as advertised, there’s unexpected behavior when a user does certain things in a particular order, etc.
Even something as simple as a recurring user error (X) may be a sign that you can improve your user experience to make X more straightforward about what to do or what they’re doing wrong.
Identify Affected Users And Offer Solutions
This step is where customer service comes in as part of reputation management.
• First, you want to do what you can to solve the issue of the immediately affected user. Fast, responsive customer service makes them feel better about their situation and your company, especially if you bend the rules in their favor.
• Second, investigate to see if the issue affects other users who may not have encountered it yet, who are just dealing with it or who are using a workaround. Reach out and offer them a solution, or fix the issue so it stops happening, and inform them of it.
• You may also want to consider offering a prorated discount, cost reduction or refund if the issue was enough to make people unable to use your product or service.
This process can help build a positive reputation that solves issues in a way that benefits your users—even though you may have problems from time to time.
Willingness To Bend The Rules
Policies are set to be a line in the sand you draw to avoid being exploited. Unlimited satisfaction guarantees can be abused, so you can cut off the people who would abuse them if you put limits in place. The trick is figuring out where to draw that line.
Typically, the best strategy for your reputation is to set the line somewhere on the more draconian side, but be flexible when customers are relatively friendly about their requests. It’s a way to reward customers for good behavior while still allowing you to cut off abuse.
Always Take Responsibility
Your product is your responsibility. Some issues will inevitably not be your fault. Still, you can address something simple—like a problem in shipping or user error on your end—to help the customer successfully navigate an issue.
While “the customer is always right” isn’t a great strategy, it’s the foundation of one. Satisfying your customers can help calm anger, promote goodwill and encourage a more positive reputation. It’s often the difference between a 1-star review and a 3- or 4-star review, which can have a massive impact on your overall reputation.
Forbes Agency Council is an invitation-only community for executives in successful public relations, media strategy, creative and advertising agencies. Do I qualify?
This post was sponsored by ReviewInc, opinions expressed in this article are the sponsor’s own.
You get that notification of a new review in your inbox.
Next, you hold your breath and recite a short prayer before opening the email.
You’re bracing yourself for a negative review.
Business owners like you regularly experience this dread; you know a picture can say a thousand words – so can a review (even with a character limit).
We know consumers rely heavily on reviews for their business decisions.
Therefore, your first thought may be to put your best foot forward and avoid any negativity like the plague.
However, sometimes bad is good.
Should I Remove Negative Reviews?
You may be surprised, but no, do not delete negative reviews.
It seems counterintuitive, but trust us – negative reviews have a very positive impact on your brand, sales, and search engine result page (SERP) visibility.
Let us explain.
Can Bad Reviews Be Good?
Yes! Bad reviews can be good, especially when we’re talking about online reviews.
Why Is Some Negativity Good When It Comes To Online Reviews?
Unbelievably, having too many positive reviews can be a red flag to consumers.
More people will trust a 4.7 rating than a perfect 5-star rating, according to a study by ReviewInc.
This is because some businesses “game,” falsify, or provide payment and exchanges for positive reviews – and customers know this.
Customers know when something feels too good to be true, and when this happens, they often decide to take their business elsewhere.
Also, the FTC has a lot to say about bribing customers for good reviews and gaming the system (and what they have to say is not what you want to hear).
That being said, a good rating that includes negative reviews is a strong indicator of authenticity, regardless of the platform.
We know what you’re thinking next.
How Often Do People Leave Bad Reviews?
The good news is bad reviews are not as common as you would think.
In 2022, ReviewInc conducted a survey and found that 65% of people do not leave bad reviews when they have a negative experience.
That is great news!
It is also interesting to note there was no measurable difference in the gender; all genders reported an equal rate of avoiding writing negative reviews.
In other words, the likelihood of getting a positive review is much higher than getting a negative review.
Based on ReviewInc’s overall measurements, 92% of reviews are positive (and 96% of the positive reviews are 5-star ratings).
Less than 5% of reviews 1-star reviews.
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Results from ReviewInc Google Survey, January 2022
So, what are the exact reasons why negative reviews are good for your business?
Let’s dive into how bad reviews can actually boost your brand.
How Negative Reviews Help SEO & Online Reputation Management
By keeping your bad reviews in place and managing those reviews with online review management tools, your star ratings can:
- Help improve your overall SEO & visibility in search.
- Increase trust, loyalty, and customer base.
- Give insights into how you can improve your business for future growth.
1. Negative Reviews Provide Authentic SEO
Reviews and ratings on sites like Google, Facebook, and Yelp factor in Google search engine optimization rankings.
Google describes how reviews play a role in prominence in SEO rankings. Specifically, “High-quality, positive reviews from your customers can improve your business visibility and increase the likelihood that a shopper will visit your location.”
Encouraging all reviews and responding to them is a good practice that will enhance your local SEO and your online reputation.
When it comes to negative reviews, they tend to provide a necessary balance, as an abundance of fake “positive” reviews or biased reviews can result in all the reviews being suspended from a key review site which will heavily impact SEO.
Regardless, don’t fear a negative review, there is good news.
2. Negative Reviews Build Brand Trust & Loyalty
“The average review score on Yelp is 3.65, which is the lowest out of these platforms. The average reviews on the other major platforms are 4.42 on Facebook, 4.3 on Google, and 4.25 on TripAdvisor.” (Neil Patel)
While those numbers, especially on Yelp, can seem scary, the truth is that reviews are trust-building mechanisms that help customers know what they are getting into before purchasing.
In short, bad reviews are a necessary ingredient of authenticity, which ultimately can lead to more sales.
The trick is to use a sympathetic response, which will:
- Help future customers understand the context of a bad review.
- Show future customers that you understand their needs and will work to accommodate them.
- Show reviewers that you are there for them.
With this technique, a previously bad reviewer may actually update their review to a higher star rating.
According to Google’s guidelines, “When you reply to reviews, you post publicly as your business. Replies may not appear across Google immediately. However, reviewers will get a notification when you reply to their review. After they have a chance to read your reply, they can update their review.”
How Do I Respond To Negative Reviews?
We know that bad reviews often feel like bad news, but a well-crafted reply can neutralize the effect.
Responding appropriately to a negative review can also be seen by other customers.
How you handle the situation will matter more than the negative review. (Here are some tips on replying to a negative review).
Responding to reviews shows that a business cares about its service and reputation.
The response alone engenders higher confidence in a company.
3. Negative Reviews Help Improve Business Operations & Profits
So, what about that 1-star review?
There is a genuine benefit from negative reviews and what their intent should be.
Negative reviews tell a business what it needs to fix and improve.
This is especially important in today’s competitive environment.
Sometimes criticism can make us better as people and businesses.
If a customer has a frustrating experience and writes a review, it will draw your attention to an issue you may not have noticed:
- Is there a faulty product?
- Does a team member need guidance?
Not all bad reviews need to end a business – they can be an opportunity to improve and strengthen customer service.
How To Manage All Your Reviews
The high importance of online reviews and star ratings makes it necessary to have an online reputation management strategy.
It is vital to monitor your reviews, campaign for more reviews, and have a strategy to respond to all reviews.
After all, your response might influence a negative review to change into a positive one.
This strategy will enhance both a business reputation as well as its SEO.
With reputation management software, businesses can have a team overseeing their online reputation and all reviews left.
A good service will also have tools that help you compose responses and manage them.
The software allows your business team to respond quickly and appropriately, so you do not have to handle the stress of negative reviews.
Featured Image: : Phoenixns/Shutterstock