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Thread: Author of "Seven Stars Insider" calls for changes to Seven Stars program

  1. #1
    https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B_rw...ZEk/edit?pli=1

    Scroll down to page 12.

    Basically he is advocating CET greatly simplifying the program, and doing away with the annual trips, celebration dinner, appreciation gift, and Seven Stars experiences. In their place, he says they should just place the equivalent number of RCs in people's accounts, to use how they want.

    While this would be great for players, I doubt CET would make these moves.

    There are several problems from their standpoint:

    1) Giving a player a ton of RCs discourages "play to earn comps", as the player can comp himself for a long time without any further play.

    2) It will become more expensive for CET, as right now presumably most Seven Stars are not redeeming their annual trips and other benefits. In this RC proposal, EVERYONE will get their benefits.

    3) Players already receiving a lot of freeplay will not be as excited by the addition of RCs, as it will make the Seven Stars program look inferior to the monthly freeplay they already receive. People have an emotional connection to getting "free" trips, gifts, food, etc, and that is often more memorable than receiving a lump sum of credits to spend on your own. I don't think like this, but many do. CET would rather people remember getting free gas, free trips, free cruises, etc, than just freeplay.

    4) The annual trip is designed to bring Seven Stars to other CET properties, presuming they will gamble while there (and often lose back the money CET spent to send them there!)

    However, I do think CET should provide more flexibility with the rigid benefits, and the guy raises a great point that the Seven Stars benefits are a hassle for hosts to arrange (especially the trips), and wastes a lot of unnecessary manpower.

    They already started offering such flexibility with the TR Gift Cards, but at the same time bungled it everywhere else. Remember the "free gas for a year" fiasco? Or how about the "Private Dinner for 6" for 4 experience credits, when the diners only get $300 each to spend ($1800), and it can only be used for one meal? Those same 4 experience credits can be used to buy $2000 worth of TR gift cards, and you can go to the same meal and the same restaurant with more money and more flexibility. Basically all of the "experiences" other than the TR Gift Card are poor value compared to the gift card itself, which is ridiculous.

    He also makes a good point that the "Signature Events" are too rigid in their dates, and screw the people who can't make it (or don't book in time to find them filled up). They also irritate people who have to travel a long way there, as CET does not pay for the air transportation. They should do away with these Signature Events and replace them with a more sensible/flexible benefit. The two non-cruise events this year were awful, and in fact inferior to most people's existing monthly offers for the same properties.
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  2. #2
    Oh, and I think it's pretty lame that CET forces people to pay for "taxes and fees" on the Seven Stars Norwegian cruise, especially since the "fees" are really non-commissioned fare, meaning the cruise isn't actually free. For some reason they are willing to pay this for the signature event cruises, but not for the standard annual cruise.

    It's just lame to force their best customers to fork over $200-$440 per person for their "free" cruise. If Norwegian won't cover this, CET should, as it's a minimal, once-a-year expense.
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  3. #3
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    Originally Posted by Dan Druff View Post
    Basically he is advocating CET greatly simplifying the program, and doing away with the annual trips, celebration dinner, appreciation gift, and Seven Stars experiences. In their place, he says they should just place the equivalent number of RCs in people's accounts, to use how they want.

    While this would be great for players, I doubt CET would make these moves.
    It will never happen. Caesars and their partners depend on an expected percentage of players NOT redeeming these benefits. As I've mentioned before, in the coupon business only one-half of one-percent of coupons are redeemed. If the redemption rate were higher some companies would go broke.

    If Caesars gave me Reward Credits instead of a cruise I would make use of those RCs in some way that would hurt Caesars financially. As it is, I never take a cruise and Caesars figures that into their cost formula.

    By the way, this is why they love Rob Singer -- he left all those comps on the table so the rest of us could enjoy our comps.
    Alan Mendelson
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    "(Alan) simply can't get past a die having six sides." -- Michael Shackleford May 12, 2015

  4. #4
    Originally Posted by Alan Mendelson View Post
    It will never happen. Caesars and their partners depend on an expected percentage of players NOT redeeming these benefits. As I've mentioned before, in the coupon business only one-half of one-percent of coupons are redeemed. If the redemption rate were higher some companies would go broke.

    If Caesars gave me Reward Credits instead of a cruise I would make use of those RCs in some way that would hurt Caesars financially. As it is, I never take a cruise and Caesars figures that into their cost formula.

    By the way, this is why they love Rob Singer -- he left all those comps on the table so the rest of us could enjoy our comps.
    Agree, but one correction.

    CET does not pay for the Seven Stars Cruise. It's a marketing trade.

    Anyway, I still think CET can do a better job simplifying the program and giving better options to its customers. They should get away from the "we want very few people to redeem this" mentality, because they are supposed to be rewarding players with $500,000 or more coin-in, not finding a way to nickel-and-dime them out of benefits.

    Truthfully, with the overall value of freeplay of most Seven Stars dwarfing the total of Seven Stars benefits, they should really loosen up on the Seven Stars stuff and stop making it such a hassle. It just pisses people off.

    A good example is that awful "Gas for a Year" promotion. Why not just give $1000 worth of Shell gas cards, instead of that whole mess with FRN?

    And that Dinner for 6 thing for $1800... why stiff people out of $200 of value when four $500 gift cards (which can be used for food, including tips) can be had for the same number of experience points?

    Stuff like this just pisses people off.

    I don't know who is making the decisions here. I think they are hiring idiots from marketing who think that "experiences" like flying in a fighter jet or taking an African safari sound cool, and don't stop to consider their target audience or the logistics/value in actually redeeming this stuff.
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  5. #5
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    Dan, they don't care if anyone redeems anything. They put fancy wrapping on mediocre gifts and hope it excites and tingles but no one claims. Please? You think Caesars wants to give you real value? Wake up. They only want you to gamble and lose.
    Alan Mendelson
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    "(Alan) simply can't get past a die having six sides." -- Michael Shackleford May 12, 2015

  6. #6
    Originally Posted by Alan Mendelson View Post
    Dan, they don't care if anyone redeems anything. They put fancy wrapping on mediocre gifts and hope it excites and tingles but no one claims. Please? You think Caesars wants to give you real value? Wake up. They only want you to gamble and lose.
    Alan, you are both correct and incorrect.

    Do they just want you to gamble and lose? Yes. I think we all can agree upon that.

    Do they hope that you will NOT redeem your gifts/perks? Yes, provided you keep coming back to play, anyway.

    But at the same time, there is sometimes a cost to playing these games with customers. If a big gambler earns these benefits and then becomes frustrated that he can't use them (or to where it's difficult/inconvenient/confusing to do so), he will just get frustrated and go elsewhere.

    Many big gamblers are very temperamental and can be driven away by the slightest misstep on the part of the casino.

    The Seven Stars program frustrates a lot of people, and sometimes CET would actually do better by offering less and doing it efficiently (and conveniently) than offering more and making a mess out of it.

    Take the signature events in Lake Tahoe and Vegas this year. We've discussed it before. They're terrible, to the point where most people have normal offers that far exceed the value of these "events". That just pisses people off. CET should just stick to the cruises for the signature events if they can't do the other ones right.

    The FRN gas card is another example. Can you imagine how many people went crazy trying to use that?

    The Seven Stars program seems to be designed by idiots in marketing who have no clue how casino patrons think or operate.

    Even if CET achieves its goal with few redemptions of Seven Stars benefits, the program is still a failure if it serves to drive people away from CET.
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  7. #7
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    Originally Posted by Dan Druff View Post
    If a big gambler earns these benefits and then becomes frustrated that he can't use them (or to where it's difficult/inconvenient/confusing to do so), he will just get frustrated and go elsewhere.

    Many big gamblers are very temperamental and can be driven away by the slightest misstep on the part of the casino.
    How do you define a "big gambler"? I think the really big gamblers don't give a damn about comped cruises or free trips under the 7 Stars Program. The really big gamblers just pick up the phone and say to their executive secretary "here's my wife, book whatever she wants."

    Dan, the people who clamor for casino comps are like you and me -- trying to get more for their money. The big gamblers don't give a damn. When Rob Singer says he would ignore a $200 overcharge on a casino gift card he is trying to say he is a "big gambler." At least that's what big gamblers would do-- ignore the overcharge.

    We little people do care.

    Now, you say the failure of the program will drive people away from CET? Well, where are you going Dan? To Station Casinos? How about Pechanga -- it still has 9/6 Jacks at all denominations?

    Get real.
    Alan Mendelson
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    "(Alan) simply can't get past a die having six sides." -- Michael Shackleford May 12, 2015

  8. #8
    Originally Posted by Alan Mendelson View Post
    How do you define a "big gambler"? I think the really big gamblers don't give a damn about comped cruises or free trips under the 7 Stars Program. The really big gamblers just pick up the phone and say to their executive secretary "here's my wife, book whatever she wants."

    Dan, the people who clamor for casino comps are like you and me -- trying to get more for their money. The big gamblers don't give a damn. When Rob Singer says he would ignore a $200 overcharge on a casino gift card he is trying to say he is a "big gambler." At least that's what big gamblers would do-- ignore the overcharge.

    We little people do care.

    Now, you say the failure of the program will drive people away from CET? Well, where are you going Dan? To Station Casinos? How about Pechanga -- it still has 9/6 Jacks at all denominations?

    Get real.
    Okay, Alan, perhaps I should better define "big gambler".

    I don't mean a megawhale who plays $100 VP or thousands per hand in blackjack.

    I agree that those people typically don't care about redeeming benefits worth $150-$2000 each.

    By "big gambler" I meant someone who plays fairly high stakes (enough to play the machines in the high limit rooms) and does so frequently -- enough to rack up 150,000 tier points or more.

    That is still "big" compared to the typical patron, who saunters in a few times a year and runs $100 worth of 25 cent video poker.

    This forum has a number of frequent players who enjoy video poker, play it at medium-high stakes, and do so often. Aaron and Nash immediately come to mind, but there are many others. You and I have a fascination with the intricacies of the Seven Stars/Total Rewards program and understand more about it than most CET employees.

    However, the typical VP player who runs hundreds of thousands of tier credits per year (sometimes millions) often does not have a desire to learn about this overly complex and sometimes contradictory program. They just want their benefits, and they want to be able to redeem them easily.

    Look at the hassle one needs to go through in order to book their Aspirations or Seven Stars trip. Look at the misleading rewards such as "Gas for a Year". Look at the fact that the Signature Events, meant to be something special, are actually inferior to the offers that most of these players are getting every week. Look at the $500 "celebration dinner", where you need to round up at least 4 people to be able to spend what you've been allocated. Look at the embarrassingly poor selection of "appreciation gifts" to choose from. Look at the silly "Signature Experiences" which, despite being completely revamped, are mostly just marked-up field trips that are far inferior in value to simply getting a TR Rewards card. Look at the "free cruise" which ends up requiring the Seven Stars member to cough up as much as $880 up front. This just causes anger and frustration to what are supposed to be CET's best customers, and that's not even including countless other gaffes, such as offering better holiday gifts to Diamond members than Seven Stars in the AC market.

    In general, people like simplicity and straightforwardness. I like the CET Total Rewards program because I can maximize my benefits out of it through this same type of poor planning and ignorance. But the typical customer hates it. They want to know what they're getting, and get it easily.

    If you say "free cruise", then give the customer an actual free cruise, not a discounted one.

    If you say "free gas for a year", then give the customer at least the amount of gas that a typical American would use in a year, and make it easy for them to redeem.

    If you say "free trip", make it easy and straightforward to book.

    If you are going to give a customer $500 for dinner, don't require them to spend it all at once and force food down their gullet that they really don't really want to eat. Don't require them to drag friends out to Vegas to redeem it. Let them split it up between a few meals, such as a $500 folio credit.

    The people behind the TR program are too wrapped up in marketing and are ignoring operations.

    You ask where else they can go? How about MGM properties, which have fewer guaranteed benefits for their upper-level cards, but much less fail?

    It's not a choice between Caesar's Palace and Palace Station. It's a choice between Caesar's Palace and Bellagio, or alternatively Caesar's AC and Borgata.

    In general, you need to make your best customers feel happy and stress-free when visiting your business, as opposed to annoyed and frustrated.
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  9. #9
    In before Rob tells me to stop worrying about these little TR benefits and just to learn to win.
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  10. #10
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    Dan-even in the old days when I was a whale, I found it disturbing to ever have to ask for something. There were no points or reward benefits. You had a host and there was just an understanding that anything other than air fare was automatic. It didn't matter how many dinners or shows or whatever you wanted--it was just an understanding that it was covered. If I needed 4 rooms for family or friends--no problem. But for the lousy $300 for airfare, it pissed me off that I had to meet with my host and have him or her approve the fare.

    I just don't like asking anyone for anything. That's why once the rewards system took over, I just decided I get what I get and I have no expectation and I don't ask for any discretionary comps. Maybe I'm stupid but it just ain't my style.

  11. #11
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    I remember the "old days" of RFB. I just signed for everything and no questions asked. Never asked for airfare, however.

    My classic RFB story is about the weekday night I flew up to meet my girlfriend at the time who was attending a medical convention. She was staying at the Palms and took a taxi over to have dinner at Nero's. I said to her "whatever you want, it's all comped." What I didn't know at the time was that she was a boozer.

    We started off with single glasses of champagne... and since I don't drink I just sipped at mine, and she finished it. Then she ordered a bottle of champagne, and after the bottle SIX more glasses. Plus dinner and caviar appetizer and the check came to $850.

    When I said I was going to charge it to my room, I was asked for my ID and a couple of minutes later they came back and all was OK. Charged to my room and later totally comped except for the tip.

    The girlfriend? I almost had to carry her into a taxi and when we got to the Palms she couldnt remember her room number. So she fumbled thru her purse looking for her wallet and ID and almost collapsed there. Finally we got a key and barely got her thru the door.

    That was about 12 years ago.

    I "Googled her" recently and found she lost her medical license for an alcohol problem. She did anesthesia. I wonder if she killed anybody?

    But the meal was comped.
    Alan Mendelson
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    "(Alan) simply can't get past a die having six sides." -- Michael Shackleford May 12, 2015

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