Loveman Speaks at Final 2011-2012 CEO@Smith Event
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
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
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
Jessica Smith, Office of Marketing Communications