The Slot Club Overhaul: Recommendations from then and now By Nicole Barker, President, Relationship Marketing Solutions May 18, 2019 at 9:17 am Let’s journey back in time to sage advice from Jeffrey Compton of CDC Consulting regarding how to overhaul a tiered club program. Eleven years ago, Jeffrey offered four main factors for consideration. Has the conversation changed in the years since? Consideration of Open-Tiered Clubs If one card is good, more cards are better, right? Ten years ago, the large commercial casinos were minting new tiered card levels as if jewels were commodity items. With the introduction of more casinos that serve local’s markets, the question arose whether smaller casinos should jump on board. The question remains true today. The difference from 2008 to 2019 is in the novelty of introducing multiple tiers. The apathy towards yet another tier has festered. The benefit differentiation from one step in status to the next is thin. The leap in expectations to spend more to make the climb to the next tier has out-taxed the gains for the customer. So how do we revive the open-tiered club concept? Is it worth it to add more tiers or service five cards? Calculating tiers Always do the math. Jeffrey and I wholeheartedly agree with this concept. Ten years ago, his article prescribed a top-down approach to carve out inclusion. Top 1% 2nd 9% 3rd 40% Here’s what has changed. Tiered programs have followed this lead and added a lower tiered card to acknowledge card usage at the bottom. Players who fog a mirror with early play take one small step up the ladder from the entry level card. At the same time, new cards have been introduced from the top down. Additional cards have been added to service the elite players. Along the way, a chasm has grown between the bottom two tiers and the top three tiers. The popularity of Player Development programs over the last decade has served the upper echelons well. Data tools continue to evolve to pinpoint elite behaviors and to connect hosts with players on the rise. The new challenge is to reposition a card program to operate efficiently alongside a strong Player Development program. At many properties, tiered card programs are clunky slow moving beasts that now represent duplicate costs. Innovation in this area refocuses tiered card utility on the meaty middle of your worth database. You invariably make most of your money in the upper middle quadrant of your meaty middle. This is the cohort of players who do not qualify for hosted status using ADT requirements. Meanwhile, tiered card programs treat them like overlooked middle children. How does a property pull back and look at the entirety of your loyalty program efforts? There is middle tiered gold that can be courted without the addition of layered costs. Benefit Construction According to Jeffrey Compton in 2008, three components comprise a benefits package: Hard Costs, Priority Service Levels, and Puff. I love this. Hard costs are your point multipliers, meal comps, and bonus gifts. Priority Service Levels are your seemingly free benefits like VIP check-in and valet parking. And Puff is the extra stuff we add as marketers to make our benefit packages seem more special; “discounted” benefits at the spa, gift shop, or point catalogs that offer merchandise. Invariably, puff are the items that take thousands of player dollars to earn points that buy things they could more than afford to purchase for themselves. With the weight of these layered costs putting pressure on properties, benefit packages have suffered. Properties are lucky if each tier hosts one or two benefits are of value. Trends today point towards experiences over tchotchkes. The evolution is towards a better mix of expected benefits and unexpected access to experiences that differentiate one property’s program versus another. In 2019, marketers are fighting apathy and ubiquity. Smaller properties are at an advantage here because they can innovate more quickly and delight more adroitly with their local and regional markets using the tiered card program as a vehicle for delivery. How does one introduce a dynamic delivery of benefits that can re-energize the tired tiered benefit package? Marketing “If you write it down they will understand.” Ten years ago, marketers organized their thoughts regarding their tiered club programs with the publication and posting of their earning structure and benefits package within a brochure and a website. With each launch, a well-trained staff was given canned talking points so that club personnel could sell the program. Today, the customer is smarter. The customer is selfish. The customer is impatient. The customer could care less about where they stand within the herd. Status means less. So many programs dole out status, but rarely allow members to flaunt it. The customer wants to know how their play during today’s session will affect their present. The shift puts a heavy burden on frontline employees to customize their support of your tiered card program in terms of the customer experience. This is a subtle, yet incredibly important flip. Imagine the conversation. Ten years ago, the club desk representative would welcome someone to the program, tell the player how to earn a point and how to redeem a point. Then she would walk the player through a brochure and ask him if he wanted a lanyard for his card. Now we must align our kiosks, our slot point-of-sale messages, online portals, and triggered text messages to deliver personalized information in real-time. Each customer now deserves to know what she needs to do to get what she wants per her play patterns. How do we re-deploy tiered card information to promote actionable results? New strategy, tools and tactics will be discussed during a live webinar entitled: “Die Tiers Die! Shape Up Sharpen, and Synchronize Your Reinvestment. “ Whether you are looking to revamp, re-energize, or re-deploy your tiered card program, this presentation will follow the trends and help your innovate beyond the present norms. If you have five cards, we’ll evaluate that. If you are considering adding tiers, we’ll evaluate that. Reinvestment in a tiered card program should serve a purpose, not pose as a layered cost. Nicole Barker, President of Relationship Marketing Solutions, has worked with over 100 commercial and tribal casinos around the world. She specializes in fitting tools and tactics to each client’s unique goals and environment. Nicole begins with a client’s data, its market, and its customer base. Then, she retools loyalty programming to fit the market and the customer. Her innovative marketing arsenal aims to better connect casinos with their customers and to better serve the financial goals of the property.