Marketing to casino loyalty guests hasn't progressed much over the years. In most cases, players still wait for discounts and promotions to come in the postal mail and then phone a call center to see what kind of incentives they qualify for, whether that's a comped room, free play, or discounts on food or spa appointments.
Seminole Hard Rock leadership knew, in the digital age, they needed to do more. Trips are predominantly booked online now, and static offers via direct mail deter people from booking and don't allow the resort to yield based on dynamic supply and demand.
So leadership went looking for a solution. Unfortunately, allowing loyalty members to login online and view their available comps and discounts is a complex problem that requires several systems to transfer critical data between them in real time. Fortunately, they finally found the right partners to make it happen.
Last month, Seminole Hard Rock deployed the ability for loyalty members at five of their managed integrated resorts, including the flagship Guitar Hotel at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino property in Hollywood, Fla., to receive dynamic rates, complimentary availability, and personalized resort style offers online based off their members' profile and value. The functionality was rolled into an entirely new booking engine and e-commerce experience. In addition, a brand-new Central Reservation System was deployed, greatly improving team member efficiency. Training for call center agents was cut in half.
The results speak for themselves, says Robert Levine, VP of customer care and hotel revenue optimization at Seminole Hard Rock Support Services. On a single day in January, the Hollywood property experienced its biggest online reservation day ever. "Despite the fact that we had a soft launch, we have seen our mix of our online reservations increase by over 1,000 basis points," Levine says. "In addition, average length of stay has increased by greater than 25%.
"We didn't put any incremental marketing dollars toward this - we didn't spend any money training the guest," Levine continues. "We are excited to see continuous improvement and have a number of follow-up items we think our guests will value."
A Closer Look
Seminole Hard Rock first embarked on the plan to upgrade their booking experience in 2019. Executives were looking for one application that served both the internal central reservation team and the guest-facing online system. They wanted to give call center agents and guests both the ability to seamlessly book loyalty comps and rates that were yielded in real time based on supply and demand. They wanted to deploy it across six properties initially, and they wanted the booking experience to be quick, user friendly, mobile friendly and feature rich content. They needed a partner that had the ability to support a global enterprise and the ingenuity to help set them apart from the other integrated resort casinos and hotels.
It was going to take some custom development. Seminole Hard Rock first turned to SHR for a custom CRS and booking engine in January 2020. SHR stood up a new booking engine just in time for Super Bowl LIV in Miami Gardens at Hard Rock Stadium and, in conjunction with some big game advertising, traffic to the Seminole Hard Rock spiked immediately.
"We saw record traffic. We went from zero to almost 5,000 people on the site in a matter of seconds," Levine says. "We were able to maintain the website with no downtime the entire time."
Then came all the detailed behind-the-scenes work. In order to build out the online loyalty booking portal, SHR connected with Seminole Hard Rock's PMS provider - Agilysys - and to Cendyn for revenue management integrations. In total, the entire project took less than a year to build, integrate, test and deploy.
"It was extraordinarily fast," Levine says. "We have a number of legacy systems and working around them takes a lot of thought. We didn't stand up an army - we approached this with a project team of about six people. It was a meaningful accomplishment."
In tandem, SHR built a CRS office application for Seminole Hard Rock's call center, which employs nearly 400 agents. While the call center application is a different tool designed to provide agents with the specific information they need quickly while on the phone with a guest, the two interfaces rely on the same data and integrations. They also added chat functionality to the guest-facing site so guests can ask questions and get information via a text-based chat tool.
Levine says a priority was to ensure the operations didn't move backward during the development period. He wanted to incorporate all the loyalty data that was already in the system. For property finance and front-desk team members, he wanted to make sure there was as little change as possible.
"We didn't want to change their world," he says. "There was very little new training required for property team members."
Having a superior website and booking experience has helped Hard Rock shift share from third-party booking channels. Guests are also booking trips as a result of the improved experience - average length of stay is up 0.4 nights since the rollout.
"While we love OTAs - they play a very important role in helping us acquire new guests - our best rates are always by booking direct as a loyalty member," Levine says. "By moving that traffic to our site, we can create a more optimal reservation and provide the guest with a better experience overall. When guests book direct, we know who they are and we can leverage that information to improve their stay."
Headquartered in Houston, Texas, with offices in Europe and Asia-Pacific, SHR, Sceptre Hospitality Resources, is a leading provider of meaningful technology that helps hotels execute their best revenue generation strategies. With a history of innovation starting with Windsurfer® CRS, Maverick CRM and RMS capabilities, SHR serves thousands of properties around the globe with an evolving suite of AI-driven solutions, ranging from high-level distribution to intricate guest management. In addition, the company offers Revenue Management tools to brands, chains, and management companies.
SHR supports 1500+ independent, group, casino and long-stay hotels, manage 6.6M reservations, sell 19m room nights and drive £2 billion revenue per year through its Windsurfer CRS, CRM and RMS.
VP of Marketing