Mecca Bingo celebrates an astonishing 60 years in the business this year (obviously not all of them online!). Anthony Conroy, a director at Rank Interactive, joined us for a Q&A session to reflect on this iconic bingo brand’s amazing history and plans for the future.
Q: Nice to meet you, Anthony! Please tell us a bit about yourself and your role at Mecca Bingo.
A: I’ve been working in gaming for around 15 years starting out in a Customer Support role myself back in Ireland. I’ve been at Mecca for around 4 years and I have to say it’s been the most personally rewarding work I’ve done to date. Bingo is a community and never was that more important and evident than in the last 12 months. Players have been supporting each other through various lockdowns, illnesses and the loneliness that’s impacted so many people. We’ve got some amazing feedback from our Bingo community over this year and we’ve all really pulled together to help each other through it. We’ve done everything we can to fill the calendar with interesting and fun events to keep players connected to each other and while it’s been a huge amount of work, it’s been well worth it.
Q: Mecca Bingo turned 60 this year. How do you think the game of bingo and the way people play it will have changed by the time Mecca’s 100th birthday comes round?
A: It’s going to be really interesting to see where Bingo leads us in the next 40 years! Since Mecca opened its doors in 1961 we’ve seen a massive shift across the world in how we enjoy entertainment and where we find it. From the development of the internet right through to the latest phones and tablets we use to play online Bingo, we can already see ideas like Netflix style predictive suggestions giving people just the right game at the right time for players to join.
Change is inspired by the next generation and the clear focus from people most recently has been on a much more immersive experience. It’s not a stretch to imagine that in 40 years you’ll see Virtual Bingo Worlds where players can enter a space and, using virtual reality, that space changes to a swanky bar, Bingo Club or any other location imaginable. You could shape your own world and night out based on any location you and your friends can imagine. There’s been so much change over the years but one thing that’s unshakeable is the love for the classic 90 ball Bingo. In 40 or 400 years I don’t see 90 ball being uncrowned.
Q: What about the near future? What exciting innovations can we look forward to in the bingo world over the next five years?
A: As I’ve said Bingo is evolving, it’s becoming a more entertaining and immersive experience for players which is fantastic. I’m really excited by TV style entertainment shows being at the heart of bingo entertainment with things like phone in shows, chat quizzes and live events popping on a regular basis. We’ve just finished two months of live shows ourselves over December and February to help keep players entertained during lockdown and we gave away over £100,000 to lucky customers during that time. Feedback was fantastic and players were literally waiting by their phones each night to get a call from the Studio M crew.
At Mecca we’re always speaking to our players to improve their overall experience and try to deliver the next big thing based on that feedback. We’ve launched many popular games like Best Odds Bingo (BOB), which is all about having an even playing field and player fairness, Premier Bingo Jackpots where you can win a fortune at any time from just 1p and mobile games like Emoji and Burst. We pride ourselves on knowing our players and considering their needs. This year is no exception with the launch of two great new products in the coming weeks (watch this space!) and we’re already in the pipeline for next year.
Q: Playing bingo on a mobile phone has become more and more popular over the last few years. Mecca’s Burst Bingo and Emoji Bingo games were some of the first bingo games to be designed to work well on small screens. Can you tell me about anything else you’ve done or plan to do to make Mecca Bingo easy to use on mobiles?
A: We’re in the process of revamping our website and Bingo app. I’m a firm believer that any change you make has to have a clear benefit to the customer so we are monitoring and measuring any changes we make with players to make sure it’s well received. Players love the simplicity of our site and app so we don’t want ruin that by complicating it with functions no one will use and will make things more difficult to find. On a mobile phone it’s much harder to maximise such a small space especially with the Bingo game, chat, side games, jackpots and all manner of other options to choose from but we’re taking our time, listening to our players and hopefully the changes we make will continue to be well received.
Q: The customer services department at Mecca Bingo has won multiple awards and is reckoned to be one of the best in the business. What do you think makes it so good?
A: We’re hugely proud of our Customer Support team and they are so passionate about our players and giving the best experience. I think that makes a huge difference, having a team of highly engaged people who are all aiming for the same goal. Like many businesses across the UK and the world, this year our Customer Support department had to move to home working. They’ve actually managed to increase service levels and reduce turnaround times for player queries which is a testament to their work ethic. The Customer Support hub is a vibrant, inclusive space where having an opinion is championed and valued and that makes for happier team members.
Thanks Anthony – some really exciting ideas there for the future and we can’t wait to see what the two new products are! Watch this space, indeed!