Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Hotel: A Winner with Total Customer Value from The Rainmaker Group

  • Rainmaker Group (The Rainmaker Group)
  • 05.07.09
The hotel at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino in North Carolina is posting overall occupancy of 100 percent with brand-leading gaming revenue per room night, and is a star performer in its hotel company's portfolio thanks to a heads-up business strategy and the revenue management system that supports it.

Even though the Harrah’s Cherokee gaming operation has been impacted by the national economic downturn, the hotel itself continues to perform on par with previous years. Much of the credit goes to a savvy executive team that is readily handling the challenges of a changing economy and to Rainmaker’s revolutionSM revenue management system used by all of Harrah’s properties, and which the Cherokee Casino hotel implemented at its 2002 opening.

The 576-room property is fortunate that convention business is not its primary segment.  Thanks to its primarily leisure guest mix, it has avoided the downturn affecting corporate travel, although leisure travel is softer than normal.

“During the months of February, March and April 2009, our admissions and day-trip traffic are improving, but people are playing below their average gaming revenue level,” said Jeremiah Wiggins, director of planning and analysis for the Harrah’s Cherokee property. “It throws a curve ball at our revenue managers tasked with predicting total guest value and setting criteria for the rooms we have available, but we are still performing well.”

The Rainmaker system forecasts hotel demand and then recommends the best room rate each night for guests based on their total customer value to help ensure that there is always availability for high-value guests. Tight integration with the hotel’s property management system ensures the most current data is used and makes the rate optimization process fast and efficient.

The system uses the previous year’s performance as a baseline and considers recent gaming revenue trends and input from Wiggins and his team. Wiggins acknowledges that a year ago he would have named revolution’s long-term (13 months out) demand forecasting capabilities as the system’s most important feature, but today it is the short-term forecasting capabilities that matter most.

“We are sitting down now planning for the summer, when we rely more on retail, unrated guests and passers-by,” he said. “We do not have any reliable indicators whether those guests will be here or not, so the more our revenue management models can adjust to short-term trends, the better off we are. 

Wiggins noted the Rainmaker solution is also valuable creating and tracking promotions that attract guests. “My team works with our marketing group to identify softer periods that will benefit from a promotion to stimulate demand," he said. "With the help of more accurate forecasting we can create promotions that are more strategic. Last year we were hunting with dynamite, and this year we are focused and able to identify the most likely guest segments that will respond to our promotions.”
Additionally, the North Carolina Travel Gaming Commission’s requirement that guests use a player card on 60 percent of the games at Harrah’s Cherokee, enables more accurate tracking of player value—information that can be entered into revolution as it creates optimized room rates based on total customer value.

“We are completely committed to the revenue management process, and how it can benefit our entire property,” said Wiggins. “The RM staff monitors demand every hour, 24x7 to make adjustments to room availability, promotions and pricing. That dedication is what takes revenue management to the next level and makes it more effective.”

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