As casino marketers, our primary goal is driving profitable, and incremental revenue. The casino loyalty program, or players club, is an important element of our success in that endeavor. However, when was the last time you actually assessed your current program?
Here are some things to consider:
- What was the date of your last refresh or overhaul of your loyalty program? It’s easy to fall into the “set it and forget it” trap. Just making sure the club booth signage reflects the current promotional calendar on a daily basis can be challenging, let alone keeping benefit elements fresh or relevant. If it’s been more than five years, put it on your FY24 to do list.
- We’re in the digital age. Still issuing plastic cards? Look in your wallet. What non-casino industry plastic loyalty cards do you carry? That’s right. NONE. Current casino technology is somewhat limiting our ability to move forward in that area, however it’s not impossible as some casinos are doing it quite well. Everything has been, and will continue moving, to the phone. Guest expectations to go digital will require it. And the advent of cashless gaming solutions is being tied to cardless as well.
- How’s your rated play percentage trending? Not all gaming markets are created equal but a reasonable target number is 60-70% So if you’re low, or flat to declining, it’s a red flag that guests are not finding value in using the plastic card.
- Monthly acquisition numbers can be an indicator of enthusiasm for your club. Depending on the maturation of your market along with economic indicators and consistent marketing efforts, it’s reasonable to expect modest YOY growth. If you’re experiencing significant declines in club enrollments, it could be your market sending you a message.
- What’s happening with other casino players clubs in your market? Are your competitors launching “new” or “refreshed” programs? Do you have competitive shoppers on your payroll keeping tabs on what the competition is doing from a loyalty program perspective? Try to be the innovator and leader to create a distinct competitive advantage over your competition.
Now, you’ve completed your assessment and concluded it’s time to make some changes. There are three key components when rethinking your loyalty program:
This covers point earning calculations (typically theo or coin-in based), tier qualifying requirements, point conversion models and overall program reinvestment. These are critical elements and the foundation for success. You don’t want to miss on this as you’re probably stuck with it for awhile. Unless you have a data science team down the hall, there is help, my recommendation is, save yourself the brain damage and hand this off to an outside firm specializing in this type of work.
Rewards and benefits are the sizzle. While the special lines, cruise certificates and food discounts for your best guests are a staple, loyalty can be solidified thru unique experiences and external partnerships. How you connect with your guests outside of your bricks and mortar facility can elevate your program above the competition. This is where you want to engage your customers with focus groups and digital qualitative research. There is no need to guess on what your players will like when you can ask them!
Once you’re set under the hood with math and have your benefits locked in, it’s time to button up club execution. Internal communication and training is essential for all team members. The best intended service benefits can become a guest disatisfier if execution falls short. Service standards and clear execution instructions should be established for every club benefit. Customer service is a leading factor in guests remaining loyal to our casino.
A 2022 survey regarding loyalty in the U.S. showed we belong to a whopping 17 loyalty programs on average but routinely engage with a little under 50% of those. Assessing and refreshing and flawless execution are key to ensuring your guests stay loyal and out of your competitor casinos. Loyal guests generate a 20-30% revenue premium and can be the difference maker when it comes to achieving your 2024 revenue and EBITDA goals.
Steve Dahle serves as the Chief Innovation Officer for Mille Lacs Corporate Ventures and has been a Raving Partner since 2020. To learn more about Steve’s insights, click here to view his article archive.
Mille Lacs Corporate Ventures is owned by the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe and manages its numerous businesses, including Grand Casino Mille Lacs, Grand Casino Hinckley, the InterContinental Saint Paul Riverfront Hotel, the DoubleTree Hilton in St. Paul, Minn., the DoubleTree by Hilton Minneapolis Park Place in St. Louis Park, Minn., Embassy Suites by Hilton Oklahoma City, SLOTCO, Makwa Global, Big Sandy Lodge & Resort, Eddy’s Resort, and other businesses such as a commercial laundry facility, cinema, a grocery store, gas/convenience stores, a golf course, and a wastewater treatment plant.