** UPDATE: We invite you to also read additional articles of this Clubathon series:
Two weeks ago we started this series with an introductory post explaining the history of the Player Clubs in U.S, bricks-and-mortar casinos. Today we’ll review a few clubs from the major Vegas brands and highlight the key differences among them. In the past we’ve had XMAS and Easter Promothons; this time we are having a Clubathon! (and no Thomas, unlike other club selection processes, your experience as a DJ doesn’t count).
In this part of our series we will be reviewing the Player Clubs of Caesars, The Venetian and Treasure Island.
Keys to ranking the clubs:
Variety: How many different establishments do they offer? What’s the geographical spread? (10 possible points)
Loyalty: Is it easy to enter? How quickly will you start looking for your way out? How are the tiers structured? (30 possible points)
Entertainment: What does the non-gambling factor look like? Can you bring your wife and kids? Will they find their way back home? (10 possible points)
Attractiveness: What can you do with those club points you earn? Any super-cool rewards? Frequent promotional events? (50 possible points)
Reasons why this is an excellent ranking system:
- Because I said so. Think it’s wrong? Tough.
- If Loyalty and Attractiveness reach 100% of their potential points, the program scores at least 80, which is a fantastic result. Then any additional points are just icing on the loyalty cake.
- More commonly, a reasonably strong program will earn a total of 55-70 points on these two parameters. In such cases, factors like Variety or Entertainment should be considered to determine if this is the right program for you.
Total Rewards (Caesars)
Variety: Don’t get me started – THE largest. Period. 40 locations, 55,000 slot machines and Video Poker (VP), plus 2,500 table games. You will need to work hard NOT to stay at one of their rooms. Score: 10 out of 10.
Loyalty: A free-to-enter classic four-tier structure, with one level for sporadic users and one for super high rollers. Status points (Tier Credits) are counted annually and are earned along with each spending point you collect (Reward Credits). Balance is maintained as long as you earn one Reward Credit every six months. Annual visitors are encouraged to conduct financial transactions to earn points while away from the gaming floor. The ratio is 1 point of each for $5 spent on Slots or VP. You can also earn it by spending $1 on any food/room/spa/show/shopping activity as well. Poker and table game terms are complicated (affected by the type of table game you are playing, your average bet and how long you play). Score: 25 out of 30. All in all, they have reasonable T&C and good approach yet the annual perspective is not that incentivizing. If they need a solution for the once-a-year people, I would recommend that they segment them into a cluster (special tier, for example) instead of forcing such a term on the entire population.
And just to make things a bit worse, the application form is as easy-going and gentle as the Dictator of Wadiya.
Entertainment: There’s tons of it. Everything from the Eiffel Tower to the all-American atmosphere, and from Celine Dion to things you can actually enjoy, like a conservative Pleasure Pool Bikini Contestor a traditional Chippendales show. Score: 9 out of 10, docked a point because of Celine Dion.
Attractiveness: You can pretty much do anything within the realm of Caesars using your Reward Credits, from Free-Play at slots, through any activity the resort can offer, and ending with a Loyalty Points shop with a large selection of items you can purchase. Although they run some attractive promotions from time to time (The Great Race, Escape) many members claim that the real benefit is not the discounts, but the fact that you can easily book seats in the hotel restaurants and generally speaking get a VIP treatment. Score: 40 out of 50, since (1) it’s still not cash equivalent, (2) some of the perks were recently removed, and (3) you need to risk a great deal of money in return for your reward. Follow me on this: one must play $5 of Slots activity in order to earn 1 point. We also know that a Kindle Fire has a retail price of $199, and in the Caesars’ shop it costs 38,000 points. So in fact, that item is sold for ~191 points per dollar. So if in order to earn 1 point a player is required to risk $5 in slots play, in order to earn 38K points the same player need to risk $200,000! And that’s the best case scenario, as other games accumulate points more slowly. So while the rewards are really nice, the risk is quite staggering.
Bottom line: 84 out of 100. As the biggest program in the offline U.S. market, regardless of our opinion, if you would ask an average player, you will probably find him in this club.
Grazie (The Venetian)
Variety: Ouch. Two venues, both situated in Las Vegas. While The Venetian is one of the largest and certainly one of the nicest gambling resorts on earth, still – you can’t really use the rewards elsewhere. Score: 3 out of 10.
Loyalty: A three-tier structure, free of course, with the usual level for sporadic users, and with the High Rollers level is x8.75 the previous one (slightly better than the x9.1 in Caesars). Surprisingly, status points here are named status points … so refreshing! These are counted annually and are earned by playing Slots or VP or any room charges. That’s easy and simple, you probably think at this point. HAHA! On your Slots and VP play you also earn Slots Rewards (2,500 of these equal to $15 of Free Slots Play or Hotel charges) and Gift Points, redeemable only during their November Extravaganza. In order to determine how many points you will be earning for your play dollars, you will need to stop doing whatever it is you are doing (and anyway, you shouldn’t do it in public, as your office equipment will get sticky and smelly) and follow carefully these instructions: Out of each game house advantage (HA, or as they call it, theoretical win), you gain an X% out of your wager, and in exchange of these dollars to accumulate, you earn Y points according to your level. Kindergarten stuff – it really is … NOT! The only way to really explain it is within a matrix:
|$1 Room Charge =||Slots & Video Games||VP, Keno & Table-Based Video Games|
|GRAZIE||5 Points||6% of HA; 10 Pts. Per 1$||6% of HA; 10 Pts. Per 1$|
|GOLD||20 Points||9% of HA; 15 Pts. Per 1$||7.2% of HA; 12 Pts. Per 1$|
|PLATINUM||20 Points||12% of HA; 20 Pts. Per 1$||9% of HA; 15 Pts. Per 1$|
Score: 15 out of 30. WTF? I mean, we do such calculations for a living, but show me one club member who can do this math, and I will grant him with a senior expert position as an iGaming consultant.
Entertainment: Gondola rides? Check! Blue Man Group and Phantom of the Opera shows? Madame Tussauds? Check! Something that may actually interest a living person? Not really, but hey, the wife is still out at the canal shopping, so I guess I am good for another 7 hours or so – thanks for asking. Score: 6 out of 10.
Attractiveness: Decent. Preferential treatment and notable discounts at pretty much everything they have to offer internally (shows, dinners, etc.). Problem is, they have nothing major going on outside their two resorts (apart from some partnership with Avis). Score: 30 out of 50, and the reasoning is mainly because of their limited offering and financial rewards: for a Slots play of $1,000, with a very generous theoretical win (HA) of 5%, you would earn 30/67.5/120 points (according to your level). Meh.
Bottom line: 54 out of 100. Nothing like Total Rewards… Maybe one day.
TI Players Club (Treasure Island)
Variety: None. One resort in Vegas, and that’s it. Score: 1 out of 10.
Loyalty: Not really a program perse, as it has no tiers. So there are no Status Points at all but they do have POINTPlay: $1.50 of Slots play or $4.50 risked on VP ($15.00 in select machines) earns one point, worth 1 penny of free Slots playing chips, with quite a good expiration period (rolling 18 months). On top, every point is awarded with 1 Treasure Chest Point, which can either be used to earn further free play (20K Treasure Chest points is $50 at the Slots), or be redeemed in a special Loyalty Points Shop. Fair enough :) Score: 22 out of 30. Simple, basic and focused on hard-core gaming. Not sure about that loyalty factor we were looking for, but it’s so much clearer than 7.2% of theoretical win from Keno play and 12 points per accumulated dollar to be redeemed later on for, most likely, exactly the same free play.
Entertainment: Taking a similar approach, the focus here is on quality, rather than quantity. In terms of shows, they have only two, but one of them is the legendary CIRQUE DU SOLEIL. Think it’s boring and you can’t really pronounce it? This is why they have within the resort a branch of the infamous Senor Frog bar from Cancun. Most likely, after one of their naughty foam parties (Beach wear encouraged!), you won’t be able to pronounce anything! Score: 8 out of 10. As with the other parameters: it could have easily been a perfect score if few more options were available.
NOTE: Yes Thomas, you are a big boy now and allowed to have foam parties by yourself when you are taking a shower. As long as you are not dealing with CRM – we are all happy, including your rubber-made Senor Froggie.
Attractiveness: Not out of the ordinary on the regular rooms/shows/dining/members-only events, promotions, giveaways, tournaments, and concerts. However, we gave it a Score of 35 out of 50, and here is why: for a Slots play of $1,000, you get back $6.66 in free play, and if you convert your Treasure Chest points as well, there is another $1.66 in it for you. Overall return of $8.33 -> way higher than the others. Still, ONLY on slots play, and redeeming those points at the shop can ONLY be done from within their premises. Web -2.0?
Bottom line: 66 out of 100. Here is a perfect example of a program that really tries to be as generous as possible, yet still doesn’t have the reach to actually make something special out of it. Hence, the overall grading is exactly 2/3 of a perfect result – good, but not great. In this case, the lack of variety and spread prevents this program from becoming a popular pick. Much like having a hairy man as your mom:sure, it’s nice and probably financially rewarding, yet not sure if this will ever catch up.
That’s it for now. We still have many more to review, but we will have to do it next time on the third part of this series. It is possible that instead of 5 parts, we will extend it to 6 or 7. False advertisement? Sue me. And as Slash answered to Axl after he showed him the “F**K ME AXL” T-Shirt he got from the audience: “Take a number …”
Don’t forget, later on this month I will be co-hosting a FREE SEO & CRM Webinar, with the lovely and ultra-talented Anna Moseva of Promodo. If you register by the end of the week I promise to cover all of your entry fees :)
** UPDATE: We invite you to also read additional articles of this Clubathon series: