Loyalty Marketing: Joshua Kanter, Caesars and Veronica Smiley, SBE #AMAresearch #MRX

Welcome to this series of live blogs from the American Marketing Association’s Research & Strategy Summit in Las Vegas. Any errors, omissions, or silly side comments are my own.

AMA market research event

Joshua Kanter, VP Total Rewards, Caesars Entertainment Veronica Smiley, CMO, SBE Corporation

  • 45 million member customers, 40 properties in 20 cities
  • Imitation is flattering but competitors like to hire away your best talent
  • Their backend databases weren’t all connected together until a short time ago. Means people couldn’t get rewards at multiple places off the one loyalty card.
  • Research showed that value and awareness were highly correlated for three separate programs. How do you improve when you are already the best compared to your competitors? 2/3rds of members say this program was their favourite, much better than for competitors.
  • Figure out who matters most to you. Figure out what matters most to your cusotmers. Deliver that better than your competitors.
  • But they needed to broaden the appeal of the program beyond core gamers, and focus on the entertainment seeker opportunity – golf, cruises, shows, restaurants. It’s not just about the people who gamble. [yup, i won’t be gambling or drinking in Vegas]
  • Why? Higher ceiling and lower visibility. You can only spend so much at a hotel if you get the best room and the best room service but the ceiling is unlimited when you enter the casino. But Caesars offers entertainment, not just a casino.
  • The Loyalty card is agreement where the consumer agrees you can track everything in order for them to get specific rewards [I honestly don’t believe this. That’s what the loyalty companies want to think. Consumers just don’t get that.]
  • Competitors are more focused on slot machines. They don’t have the same infrastructure in terms of analysts.
  • How to engage entertainment seekers. There is entertainment, dining discounts, shopping, exclusive and early access to high profile events.
  • Why didn’t people use the loyalty program? Research said they only come to Vegas once a year, they don’t want another loyalty card, it’s not meaningful to them. They didn’t realize they could use the program in different cities in different ways, not just for gambling.
  • Needed to design a campaign that overcomes barrier of “I’m not a gambler, this isn’t for me.” They put together four surprise concerts at the same time – shows they are big. Four different music experiences – country, rock, hip hop. Went with unbranded teaser campaign so that people wouldn’t dismiss it as “oh, it’s just Caesars gambling.” They needed pop culture celebrities to share the message, not just the brand themselves. Relied on social media for much of this, not just in casino swiping.
  • Did it work? 1.5 billion impressions over 3 months. 25% increase in members. Doubled twitter and facebook followers. Winner of Colloquy Master of Enterprise Loyalty award.
  • Very few programs achieve real loyalty programs as opposed to rewards programs or discount programs.
  • Find out what motivates people – social connectivity, escaping a busy life, etc
  • Engagement depends on how much you understand what matters to people. Challenging for people who’s motivation is unrelated to gambling if you don’t capture non-gambling information. Don’t be a hammer in search of a nail – “Here’s some free gambling chips! Oh great, what do you expect me to do with those?”

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