It's time for casinos to integrate loyalty club and player development functions
Many casino executives believe that a property’s loyalty (née players) club and player development functions operate in tandem—not surprising, considering how elemental and critical each of these parts are to an overall database and loyalty marketing engine.
I’m here to tell you that this is often not the case. As a matter of fact, there are still properties where they do not even report to the same person, or exist in the same department, or even communicate on a regular basis. And yet they are the entire foundation—the very engine—that drives all marketing strategy; not to mention sales efforts, basic accounting and audit functions, and just about everything else that speaks to data and your business.
“And why is that?” you may ask incredulously. “Why aren’t my marketing, loyalty, reward and player development functions all integrated and running under the same umbrella?”
The simple answer: We really don’t know why, it's just the way we have always done it.
Well, we’re long overdue for a change to this dynamic.
For far too long, our casino marketing efforts have been fractured along player-worth lines. We have different programs for different value levels, and we often overlap these programs in ways that are not only inefficient, but downright wasteful and confusing to the intended recipients, our players. We need to get on the same page, get integrated and coordinated under one model that doesn’t try to do everything for everybody, but rather applies strategies and properly-coordinated programs specific to the different types of players we host in our properties.
It starts with bringing your loyalty club (and all its operations and output) and your casino player development function into one seamless entity.
You see, your loyalty program really performs two functions: First, it is the fundamental and basic engine that drives all of your data collection and efforts around the data you collect for your business. Secondly, it is also the marketing tactic you use to market to both low- and mid-value players through the use of points, tiers and direct mail programs (as well as the primary vehicle you use to reinvest in players).
Your player development function, on the other hand, is focused on one task only, which is to use the data generated by the loyalty club to provide a personal one-on-one sales effort aimed at your high-value players. Moreover, it should provide all marketing efforts aimed at your high-value players, since they do not want to be marketed to like the masses in the lower segments.
Perhaps that is why they have always been considered separate entities, connected only by the data that they share when performing their respective tasks. However, when you unite the two, you overcome several inefficiencies in your marketing efforts and gain several powerful advantages.
Here are some examples of which I speak:
- Better coordinate and execute the different tactics aimed at different valued players while avoiding overlap, rewards layering and the subsequent over-reinvestment in your players.
- Reach farther into your database of mid-value players with effective player development techniques once reserved only for the highest of value players, thereby unleashing several pockets of excess value currently lying dormant in your database.
- Free your executive hosts from being overwhelmed with minor guest service and comp writing duties so that they can focus on their true job of selling to high-value players.
- Develop a true career path for player development and marketing team members that runs from the loyalty club all the way up through the highest levels of player development and your marketing department.
- Create a stronger, more varied and interesting job function for your loyalty club team members, many of whom are currently languishing behind a counter overcome with repetitive tasks and job boredom.
- Provide more effective and powerful training programs across the entire scope of the department, so that from the moment a player joins the club, through their journey to a high-value level, they only encounter highly-motivated, engaged and well-trained professionals dedicated to selling your gaming experience in the best possible way.
Sound good? Let me reiterate that the first two bullet points speak to the very significant activities of saving money (over-reinvestment from reward layering) and making more money (using powerful player development techniques in an affordable manner with lower value player segments where you are currently leaving a lot of money on the table).
All Together Now
This past July at Raving’s Loyalty and Player Development Conference, we redeveloped our entire program to encompass this idea of an integrated loyalty and player development function. The response was overwhelming in attendance and feedback; the attendee mix was a combination of both player development, loyalty club and marketing titles.
To put theory into action, every participant was put in a group to tackle a team challenge to be presented on the final day, and judged by a panel of experts. This year, each challenge incorporated impacts to both the player development function and the loyalty club.
There were five different strategies in total that were worked on by multiple groups: loyalty and player development department structure; development of position models; development of incentive programs; player segmentation strategy; and development of a list of VIP events, tournaments and packages.
The group that took first place was tasked with the player segmentation strategy challenge, and had to merge the loyalty club and player development (PD) functions into one, while creating a more comprehensive, sales-focused PD effort aimed at all players within the mid- to high-value segments.
Questions this team addressed included:
- How does the segmentation strategy allow for proper targeting of players with appropriate PD strategies (acquisition, retention, growth, reactivation)?
- Which positions should be aimed at which segments and with what type of approach (team, coded, individual, call center)?
- How will the performance of each segment be measured for effectiveness against targets?
The first place group was represented by: Randall Gonzales, players club supervisor, Elwah River Casino; Mikala Phillips, gaming host, Batavia Downs Gaming & Hotel; Shane Barrios, player development manager intern, Tachi Palace Hotel & Casino; Ray Sepulveda, direct mail manager, Coeur d’Alene Casino Resort Hotel; Donald Carter, marketing host, Grand Casino Hotel & Resort; and Andre Baker, casino host; Twin Pine Casino.
“Our group won first place for coming up with a strategy to incorporate our front-line employees, such as our players club, all the way to our top executive host to give our guest personal touches throughout their visit on the property,” said Barrios. “It was amazing to work side by side with people from different departments and see the different aspect each brought to the table.”
Raving’s Loyalty and Player Development Conference 2020 will take place July 13-14 at Caesars Palace Las Vegas. For more information on this event please visit www.casinomarketing.com.