The power of personalization in driving guest spending
The power of personalization in driving guest spending
06 AUGUST 2019 7:54 AM

Executives from Caesars Entertainment and Margaritaville spoke on a recent webinar to discuss how they personalize messaging to guests to encourage purchasing behaviors.

REPORT FROM THE U.S.—The key to building brand loyalty is knowing as much as possible about the guest and personalizing marketing messages and offers to that guest, sources said on a recent webinar hosted by EyeforTravel.

Guests have different ways of planning, booking and experiencing a trip, and tailoring that message to each can be challenging, and requires a set of tools and experts.

Caesars Entertainment started in the personalization game nearly 20 years ago, and back then, asked guests for information through what was its Total Rewards program, said Michael Marino, chief experience officer and SVP of marketing at Caesars. As a result, Caesars got “near-perfect information on what the customer would do when they visited our properties.”

The company’s goal is to get guests on property, and once they are staying in one of Caesars’ hotels, send out relevant messages to encourage how they spend the rest of their trip, from seeing a show in Las Vegas to getting dinner at a steakhouse owned by the company, he said. The Caesars team previously focused more on guest retention, but now acquisition is equally as important, he said.

“We believe in ‘and.’ There’s no substitution,” Marino said. “The team that used to focus on retention is still focused on retention, but there’s a new team that is focusing on acquisition. It’s a new customer base we’ve never had to focus on in the past. The way we’re evolving is adding onto our toolkit as opposed to replacing one with the other.”

The tools in Caesars’ personalization toolkit include partnerships. For example, the company partnered with a software company to store and sort through data from loyalty customers, and another software platform is used “for anything digital at this point talking to our guests,” he said.

Marino emphasized the importance of engaging guests in different experiences.

“It’s kind of the inverse of most businesses,” he said. “Most businesses, the more money people spend, the more upset they are with us. The irony is the more they engage in what we sell, the happier they are with the experience, the higher they rate us and the more likely they are to come back.”

Knowing where a person is coming from also helps in personalizing messages to that guest, Marino said.

For example, Caesars has found that sending ads or promotions that feature people spending time at the pool is a good way to attract people from cities such as Chicago and New York. Guests originating in California, meanwhile, respond to ads that feature a road trip past the “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign.

The company has had success using creative methods that trigger emotions in guests to guide their decisions, he said.

Margaritaville’s approach to personalization
Guest personalization efforts at Margaritaville are split between onsite communications and digital, said Claudia Infante, VP of revenue strategy at Margaritaville.

“The digital piece is driven by our CRM program,” she said. “We are right now in the infancy stages of our loyalty program. It’s not out there; it’s not public yet. We are testing it with a very select group of consumers that we are engaging in different ways.”

While the company is still working on its loyalty program, Infante said the company has ways of learning what customers value most throughout their digital journey.

“Do they value more the personalization at the time of booking, or do they value suggestions based on like-minded individuals or based on past purchases? We’re following a little bit of the Amazon model in saying, ‘Hey, if you like these products, you may like this other one.’ Or, ‘you purchased this one and 35 other people have selected this product as well.’ We’re putting that personalization in the testing environment for the digital journey,” she said.

On site, Margaritaville captures consumer preferences and saves that information for future stays at any property. Ambassadors at each hotel take that information and contact guests to begin personalizing their stay prior to arrival, she said.

Margaritaville attracts a diverse guest demographic, from retirees to college students, which can make consistency with personalization challenging, Infante said. The older guests are used to picking up the phone to call the hotel while younger guests, such as those involved in Margaritaville University, prefer digital messaging.

Infante said the company also has partnerships with other organizations to obtain information about guests to better personalize their experience.

One example of this is Margaritaville’s partnership with Ticketmaster for “years and years of data” on concert ticket purchases, which allows the hotel company to send relevant messages to guests who have seen Jimmy Buffet multiple times based on their location.

“If we know someone has seen Jimmy 45 times and they live in Ohio and have visited our website looking at Margaritaville communities, we tie all of those points together to put together (personalized communications and offers),” she said.

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