Gary Loveman knows how to handle a packed house. In fact, his business thrives on it. A former associate professor at the Harvard University Graduate School of Business Administration, Loveman is now chairman, CEO and president of Caesars Entertainment Corporation. And in his casinos, there are often crowds of 30,000 per night.
On March 6, 2012, Loveman spoke to a packed house of students, faculty and staff at the Robert H. Smith School of Business as the final part of the school’s CEO @ Smith Speaker Series.
Loveman joined the Fortune 500 company as Chief Operating Officer in 1998 and drew on his extensive background in retail marketing and service management to develop and implement the gaming industry’s most sophisticated and successful loyalty program, Total Rewards. He was named CEO of Caesars in January 2003.
While at Smith, Loveman spoke about the importance of marketing to the right customers, gathering data on those customers, and adequately analyzing the data gathered to leverage it for future use.
“Our casinos are surrounded by competitors, so how do we know if we are successful at marketing to our customers?” Loveman asked. “At the end of the day when a customer asks him or herself, ‘Where will I go tomorrow?’ they will always choose us, even with a competitor close by. That is successful marketing.”
To attain this result time and time again, Caesars studies its customers very carefully. They record everything they can about what their customers do, including how much they gambled, where they ate dinner, whether they visited the gift shop, etc.
From this information, they can tell who will be a good customer and who will be a great customer. They can see who is at the casino for the first time and who is a returning customer. And with this information, they can target their marketing strategies accordingly:
“If one of our customers has a surprisingly bad visit, I have to do a lot more to get them to come back again. Just think about other cases when experiences go bad for you,” Loveman prompted the crowd. “Take an airline, for example. The plane is late, they lose your baggage – do they have to market specially to you now? Of course they do. We have the same experience – if you’re generally pleased, we market one way; if you’re unhappy we market in a different way.”
He added that you often offer the best deal to your most profitable customer, not your best customer – something not all other industries capitalize on.
“Our effort, group by group, is to grow our customers’ worth over time. We identify things that seem to work for one group and apply them to different folks. We learn some things aren’t working at all and we stop doing them,” he said. “Whatever business you are interested in, these options exist. Try different things and see how your customers react. In a world where marketing data is so accessible and inexpensive, there’s no excuse for no using it to your advantage.”
Jessica Smith, Office of Marketing Communications