Loyalty programs are a mainstay of casino marketing strategy, offering a way to engage guests, provide unique experiences and strengthen player retention. The best loyalty programs can turn occasional players into regulars and attract a new wave of patrons, per- haps an untapped demographic.
ACCORDING TO LAUREN HILLERY, vice president of strategy at LaneTerralever, a full-service marketing agency that specializes in the gaming industry, loyalty programs are more important in today’s casino market than ever before. “Competition for players is fierce due to the expansion of legalized casino gambling and the proliferation of other forms of entertainment,” she said. “The difference between success and failure can often be measured by the strength of the property’s loyalty program.”
Indeed, when structured correctly, loyalty programs not only help casinos attract and retain guests but also enable them to increase brand value, said Hillery, who works with gaming properties to develop loyalty programs and increase their adoption. “Casinos that invest in their programs have an opportunity to set themselves apart from the competition and deliver growth for years to come.”
GUEST DATA SHOULD POWER THE PROGRAM
Loyalty programs should be based on guest preferences and behavior. “A one-size-fits-all approach won’t work,” she said. “You have to understand what players value and design a program around individual guest data.”
While casinos have traditionally segmented loyalty members and messaged to each group differently, properties must always be on the lookout for ways to expand their programs. For example, an increasing number of loyalty programs allow members to accrue points and spend rewards on non-gaming products and services. “Dig deeply into the data to drive promotions around historically lucrative comps and curate more tailored offers, especially for top players,” she said. “It’s the steady improvement in offerings that generates a sustainable competitive advantage.”
At Resorts World Las Vegas, guest data is at the heart of its Genting Rewards loyalty program. “It allows us to recognize our most valued guests and provide a highly personalized experience,” said Manuel Domingo, Jr., senior manager of marketing operations. “We extend offers and rewards that benefit each member rather than taking a generic approach.”
The program is based on tier levels, with guests earning points by playing, dining and shopping. As they ascend through the ranks, they gain access to more exclusive benefits, from slot point earning boosts and line passes to airfare reimbursement and dining credits. Guests can easily enroll in the loyalty program through the Resorts World Las Vegas app, at the Genting Rewards kiosk on the casino floor, or at the Cage & Loyalty Services desk.
Delaware North, a global hospitality company and casino operator based in Buffalo, NY., uses segmentation reporting to tailor its loyalty rewards to members of the Lucky North Club®. “The data enables us to understand game preferences, visit frequency, spending habits, responses to past offers, and more,” said Lucky North Program Director Jill Eden. “The information we gather significantly enhances the effectiveness of our marketing efforts and improves the overall guest experience.”
The program is offered at eight Delaware North gaming locations. Each property has its own benefits, designed to create a more personalized experience. Members earn points in a variety of ways, from playing slot machines to betting on races. The points can then be redeemed for rewards, including food and beverage, hotel stays and free play. Members also receive exclusive perks and promotions based on card status. And more, benefits extend to local sporting events through the Delaware North Sportservice partnership.
But what really sets this loyalty program apart is the Lucky North Club Destinations® program, which takes loyalty to a new level by providing guests with opportunities to explore a number of Delaware North destinations around the country, including casinos, resorts, and even properties located at national parks. “It adds great value to our gaming business,” Eden said. Indeed, a recent survey indicated that the Destinations program was the favorite benefit among loyalty club members.
TECHNOLOGY IS KEY
According to Hillery, technology can help casinos streamline their loyalty programs and extract more value from guest data. “Properties that want to reach guests in new ways and create unique engagement should incorporate state-of-the-art technology as a key component of their programs.”
Also important is breaking down silos. “The more you invest in technology that expands the visibility of loyalty data, the richer the guest experience,” she said. “Casino operators who understand this are the ones who will succeed in the long run.”
In an effort to boost the value of its loyalty program, Delaware North has implemented a number of cutting-edge solutions, including new technologies for email marketing, pro- cess automation, customer yield and insights, workflow management and registration.
The company’s loyalty program integrates with its PMS and other property solutions. Staff can access guest information, including Lucky North Club data, at various touch- points throughout the property, including the front desk, at restaurants, and in gaming operations areas. The loyalty program also integrates with the Lucky North Casino app, which provides guests with lots of information, including hours of operation, a gaming floor map, marketing offers, Lucky North Club point and tier status, and more.
At Resorts World Las Vegas, guests can enroll in the Genting Rewards program anytime and anywhere in the world through the property’s mobile app. “This allows members to unlock exclusive offers and plan their stay even before arrival,” Domingo said.
Of course, gathering guest data requires tight oversight. “We take information security seriously and are committed to implementing industrywide best practices,” he said. That includes two-factor authentication and segmentation of the network, as well as full data encryption of all guest data collected by the property.
KEEPING PACE WITH THE TIMES
Forward-looking casinos view loyalty programs as a way to attract new patrons, particularly in the growing market of online sports betting, which is changing the way players interact with brands. “Online sports betting is especially popular with Millennials and Gen Z, so it is in the casino’s best interest to start building loyalty with these players,” Hillery said. “Invest now in the types of gaming and social aspects these players want or you’ll be left behind.”
Delaware North leverages Betly, the company's proprietary online and mobile casino sportsbook app, for onsite activations and promotions. Betly expands the company’s online gaming offerings, including a selection of fan-favorite slot games and video table games.
Additionally, Delaware North goes outside its gaming properties to attract new players. “We attend community events and partner with local event centers for onsite activation opportunities and maintain competitive new member offers and referral programs,” Eden said. The company also offers tier matching for local gaming competitors.
At Resorts World Las Vegas, cashless play is taking off. The property was the first in Nevada to enable customers to enroll, verify and fund cashless play from anywhere in the world in only a few minutes. “With the Resorts World Las Vegas app, guests can use their smartphones to play cashless at the casino and use their favorite mobile wallet to pay cashless at our restaurants, shops and bars,” said Domingo. “It’s a great way to attract new players and it’s popular with guests of all generations, especially younger customers.”
In the long run, loyalty programs must evolve and keep pace with the times if they are to succeed. “Savvy casino operators will seek more touchpoints with guests through loyalty engagement, which turns players into brand advocates and opens up new revenue streams,” Hillery concluded. “Loyalty programs can take you through waves of disruption and give you a significant competitive advantage, but only if you remain relevant.”