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Tech Time

Katrina Lane, Chief Technology Officer, Caesars Entertainment

Tech Time

Everyone knows the Caesars Entertainment loyalty program, Total Rewards, is the industry standard for customer relationships. With a nationwide network of casinos that give players credit in any facility for points earned in another, the program has a natural appeal to traveling gamblers.

But Katrina Lane, Caesars’ chief technology officer, isn’t willing to rest on the company’s laurels. She’s ready to take Total Rewards to the next level, and her background in marketing is crucial to the company’s success in this endeavor.

“All the departments within a casino company—or any company, for that matter—have to work hand-in-hand to make sure that the things marketing is trying to accomplish are achieved,” Lane says. “We all start with what experience we are trying to build; how it will impact the customer; what message we are trying to convey.”

The growth of Total Rewards is only a part of what Caesars is trying to achieve. Using the millions of names that Caesars has gathered over the years, the database mining is extensive and far-reaching.

“We pay a lot of attention to what our customers want to hear about,” says Lane. “When we send them offers, we want to make sure they are offers that are of value to them. We want to make sure that our customers can take advantage of the entire footprint.”

In addition to Caesars, the company has a variety of brands, including Harrah’s, Horseshoe, Caesars, Bally’s, Rio, Showboat and more. Lane says she is sensitive to the customers’ desires.

“We definitely have customers who prefer one or another of our brands,” she explains. “They all appeal to certain groups of customers, but we do have crossovers who visit one brand in one market and a different brand in another. And these are different brands with different experiences.”

Social networking is probably the hottest buzzword in casino marketing today, and the translation into technology initiatives goes hand in hand. Caesars is just in the learning stage, according to Lane.

“We decided the most valuable thing we could do for our customers in this regard is the Total Rewards integration,” she says. “So when you download an iPhone or smart phone app, you can play games, upload a picture of you at the slot machine and other cool things, but you can access your account in real time and know how many award credits you have instantly.”

Lane says some casino companies have unrealistic expectations of what can be achieved by these apps and programs like Facebook and Twitter.

“How often do customers visit your website or ‘like’ your Facebook page?” she asks. “And then, how deep are those relationships? You’ve got to really know your customers and what you’re trying to achieve through those channels. Otherwise, you’re just chasing the numbers.”

Even if the social networking sites succeed in bringing more customers to the casinos, Lane says the work has only just begun.

“It makes all of us raise our game,” she explains. “The ability of customers to directly do research, to talk to friends, and the level of transparency is much higher than it’s ever been. And then we need to staff up to respond to these instant requests for information. Twitter users want a response within 10 minutes, while emailers expect to hear within 24 hours. These are areas that need our attention, sooner rather than later.”

Roger Gros is publisher of Global Gaming Business, the industry's leading gaming trade publication, and all its related publications. Prior to joining Global Gaming Business, Gros was president of Inlet Communications, an independent consulting firm. He was vice president of Casino Journal Publishing Group from 1984-2000, and held virtually every editorial title during his tenure. Gros was editor of Casino Journal, the National Gaming Summary and the Atlantic City Insider, and was the founding editor of Casino Player magazine. He was a co-founder of the American Gaming Summit and the Southern Gaming Summit conferences and trade shows. He is the author of the best-selling book, How to Win at Casino Gambling (Carlton Books, 1995), now in its fourth edition. Gros was named "Businessman of the Year" for 1998 by the Greater Atlantic City Chamber of Commerce, and received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Gaming Association in 2012.

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