While the upcoming changes, effective 02/01/18, to the Caesars Total Rewards program, is a massive slash in benefits, some of the changes certainly make sense from their perspective. I try to play devil’s advocate and understand the business purpose for these decisions. Some I get, while others baffle me when I try to view them through the bean counter’s eyes.
Caesars Entertainment (and its spinoffs) is basically a large corporation where in many instances the left hand doesn’t know what the right hand is doing. Marketing departments drive revenue, but there are always unintended consequences and expenses associated with their actions and decisions.
In 2017 there were many initiatives put in place which allowed the masses to reach diamond status without gaming at their properties. The FoundersCard status match and multiple promotions, including two Quest for Rewards, allowed many to attain diamond status for far less action or spend than before. Lines at Diamond Lounges were out of control, and animosity had begun between those that found a short cut, and those that felt they earned the perks in a traditional sense. On a typical night in a Diamond Lounge there would be as many diamond “short cuts,” if not more, than traditional players in the line and filling their portion of maximum occupancy. Many players complained, so this outcome seems inevitable.
There is a positive spin on the 25,000 tier credit requirement to obtain free entry into the Diamond Lounges: For those that achieve it, there will be far less people in line to get in. In Atlantic City, where this has been the protocol for some time, they offer a hot and cold buffet that is far better than elsewhere around the country. My hope is that by limiting those that gain admission, a better product will be offered nationally, similar to the Atlantic City experience.
“I don’t like it, but I get it.”
The removal of Seven Stars guaranteed comps is a deal breaker for me personally, but I understand the logic. Those with regular solid play history will still receive the same comp offers, and they can weed out the compilers and comp abusers. No more than a few months ago, I stood in front of a packed room at ZorkFest (2017 Event, at Bally’s Atlantic City), teaching attendees the loopholes of this very system. We teach people how to maximize value within travel and casino loyalty programs. While we didn’t cover all of the loopholes, I felt confident that a large number of people were about to hit the floor with knowledge of both the how’s and why’s within this program. Caesars didn’t close the loopholes, but they reduced their value considerably. I’m certain I wasn’t the only one reaping far more value from these benefits than my theoretical should have yielded. The only people largely affected by this, are exactly the people they wanted to weed out. Poker players, high volume “full pay” video poker players, travel hobbyists and those that worked the system in other ways were not the intended recipients of the benefits. This had to have an effect on the bottom line. Not all revenue is good revenue. I don’t like it, but I get it.
I and many others were bothered by the timing of the announcement. I receive offers and emails constantly, so I focused my play and spend at Caesars properties to renew my Seven Stars status, only to be told with two weeks left in the year that I will get far less next year than expected.
While it still feels like we were taken advantage of, I’m not sure when I expected them to make this announcement. Two weeks before the end of the year is a perfectly reasonable time to present the benefits for 2018. It would have been a terrible business decision to tell everyone in June that a massive degradation of benefits was coming. I don’t like it, but I get it.
The one change I can’t wrap my head around, and I’m trying, is the removal of the Aspiration levels and their benefits. At this point, the system itself does nothing to encourage brand action or spend between 25,000 tier credits and 150,000. If anything, it is demotivational to dangle a carrot, and hold it a mile away. In this instance, the carrot is perceived to be dry and rubbery. We know it even though we can’t even see it from the distance. Could revenue occupancy rates be so high that they feel they can sell the rooms anyway? Are these aspirational benefits only being used during holiday/peak travel where the opportunity cost is too great? This is pure supposition, but I assume some patch will be instituted outside of the tier based platform and it will be retooled again in years to come. We will have to take a wait and see approach, and hope they come to their senses.
After taking some time to digest the upcoming changes, I’m far less bothered by them. I can understand the rationale for most decisions even if I don’t like them. Those of us entrenched in the culture of the brand refer to a “CET treadmill,” where every year you start over on a quest to renew, because the benefits were really that good. I’m looking forward to variety and new experiences that I might have missed, absent this decision.