The evolution of Tier Benefits should be a constant progression and in response to market attributes or competitive adjustments. Some benefits have become standards across most jurisdictions. Based on a guest’s tier level, these standard benefits include percentage discounts on food and beverage, discounts or complimentary offers on lodging and exclusive access to amenities within a property. In reference to responses within a specific market, competitive changes in Las Vegas have recently surfaced. MGM announced in January 2016 that in April it will begin charging for parking at their Las Vegas strip locations. In many of the articles regarding this shift, MGM mentioned that Free Parking would still be available based on M life player tier status. Other rewards programs have also included this type of benefit — Golden Nugget's 24K Select program provides a similar Free Parking benefit to all tiers above their entry-level tier.
In keeping a competitive eye on players club benefits, especially when referencing a multi-property brand, cross utilization and earning/redeeming of rewards at other properties within a brand has been an on-going initiative for players clubs. The technical infrastructure and system requirements can create challenges. However, once completed it creates a stronger rewards program with even bigger benefits for the members.
When speaking about multi-property brand players clubs, Station Casinos’ Boarding Pass has proved to be a leader within the industry. They’ve fully leveraged the multi-property aspect of their rewards program and enhanced their geographic distribution and reach by partnering on casino development projects with Tribal Nations. An example of this is the Graton Resort & Casino partnership located in Santa Rosa, CA, just north of San Francisco. The partnership led to cross-market opportunities with Graton Resort & Casino and existing Station Casino properties in Las Vegas. The players clubs are fully integrated to all members for redemption and earning of points at Graton Resort & Casino or any of the Station Casino properties in Las Vegas. This is an added benefit allowing a Graton player to utilize rewards earned at their local casino while on vacation.
As another prime example of multi-property cross-market opportunities, the Total Rewards program offered by Caesars Entertainment has provided their upper tier levels with preferred accessibility to lodging in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. What’s more, they guarantee room availability exclusively for top tiers if requesting a room with 72-hours notice, anytime, any day. This is a great way to show how valuable the Total Rewards member is to the organization. Plus, they waive resort fees for their Diamond level and above members.
MGM's M life not only is providing free parking for select tiers, they have also partnered with Hyatt Hotels to provide exclusive experiences within the Hyatt brand of properties. How can they accomplish this? We have seen other partner programs where you can earn points by using your loyalty card with another organization. For instance, if you use a Delta Skymiles card at a Budget Rental Car location, you can earn Skymiles points. Hyatt and M life are taking it one step further by providing Hyatt Gold Passport status to certain levels in the M life program. Honoring status earned with M life at strategic partners creates additional equity in the M life program while introducing the casino players to a brand that meets or exceeds their standards.
The aforementioned examples represent the evolutions and new ideas from some of the larger loyalty card programs. Smaller casino operators seem to be focusing on strategic alliances on the local level to expand their offerings to guests. And why not? Their properties are more than likely deemed a “locals” casino. They are expanding their amenities by providing preferred rates at hotels, spas and event restaurants in the vicinity of their property or in the primary feeder market for their property. For many of these organizations, there are a variety of strategic partners to consider, including retail establishments, higher-end experiences, sports-related business, experiential adventure entities like sky-diving and much more.