It doesn’t take long for predictions to become predictable: The rise and rise of Facebook; advancements in analytics; the normalisation of chatbots; personalisation, programmatic, automation, authenticity… The prediction that’s missing from these lists is that in 2017 we will witness a resurgence of values-based marketing.
As the world's largest destination and entertainment company, Caesars Entertainment is fiercely embracing technology and innovation in order to understand its customers and provide a more diverse and engaging experience.
Caesars VP of engagement marketing, Greg Cannon, is a former creative director with a passion for technology. He told CMO the Fortune 500, $9bn company faces an exciting and interesting customer conundrum.
“The company has been around for over 70 years and is the biggest in its space,” he said. “And for many years, we’ve had a certain approach as to how we make our money and become successful. But over the last few years, that particular dynamic has really changed.
“As people have evolved, their idea of what is ‘fun’ is more diverse, and as such, we’ve had to really accommodate that and think of ways to incorporate a lot more experiences to keep them engaged.”
Cannon will be speaking on Caesars' technology investments and approach at the upcoming ADMA Techmix event in Sydney in June.
The Nevada-based company’s portfolio is a complex and growing mix, encompassing more than 50 casinos and hotels and seven golf courses under several brands across four continents. Cannon said its customers today don’t expect gaming, but all sorts of live entertainment and experiences.
“They are looking for everything from nightlife and carnivals to electronica music and live acts like Mariah Carey, Celine Dion, Rod Stewart, Britney Spears, Jennifer Lopez and Pitbull,” he said. “Then we have a host of not just restaurants but truly great dining experiences. Our product has truly evolved and so has Vegas. It used to be the place you just went to gamble, but now it’s more of a place to go and escape for enjoyable experiences and to have a lot of fun.”
Cannon said Caesars has worked hard to really understands its guests and know how to engage them through unique experiences.
“And our customers expect that with us, they are specifically looking for those exclusive experiences,” he said. “As technology has evolved, we incorporated that as much as possible.”
Adapting to mobile for a more streamlined customer experience
As an example, Cannon said Caesars had to quickly adapt to the rise in smartphone usage by rolling out a customer loyalty-led app.
“It’s a very intimate device, so we had to think about ways to incorporate it into the experience,” he said. “We created the Play by Total Rewards App that incorporates our loyalty program and it is a great way to help tailor your experience and even find your way around. It’s also a way to review your offers and loyalty credit earned.
“So the app is a more personalised way to see what is really happening and how you can be integrated into them.”
Leveraging digital to boost efficiency
Cannon agreed digitisation and technology advancement also meant the company had to embrace technology from a customer service standpoint.
“Internally, we look at the biggest bottlenecks within the organisation and look to find efficiencies where we can,” he said. “For instance, when guests come in from a long flight, we don’t want them to wait in a long line to check-in. We created something called ‘advanced check-in’ where you complete the process online and just come and collect your key card and really advance your way through your trip.
“The same approach was adopted in our dining venues, where before customers had to wait in long lines outside the restaurants, diners can now register on a waiting list digitally and receive a text when their table is ready. This way they can enjoy other types of entertainment while the line reduces.”
Embracing customer engagement with integrity and authenticity
On top of this, Cannon said the company had to tackle the various channels through which customers interacted with the brand, such as TripAdvisor and Yelp.
“We had to adapt to the notion that folks are going to be there and they are going to look for support and reviews in those channels,” he said. “We had to evolve from being a company that talked to folks, to a company that talks with them, and is ready to reply in real-time, pretty authentically to any complaints, concerns, questions and compliments.”
On social media, Cannon said that if the company knows its customers are on Facebook or Twitter, it tries to reach out to them. And while the company also spends on media, he claimed Caesars actually spends proportionally less than its competitors with its ability to generate relevant, interesting and timely content. The key to this is authenticity, he said.
“We’ll incorporate things customers like and enjoy, but not in a way that is obstructive or intrusive,” he said. “Ultimately, we try to handle ourselves with integrity and be there to respond to those who are looking for us, rather than solicit people. You won’t see too many sales at Caesars, you’ll see offers and exclusive experiences.”
Content and offerings on the blog, meanwhile, will look at what people are interested in, things to do in Vegas, or top things to do this summer.