At Eldorado Resorts, databases talk to each other before talking to guests. These conversations keep members of its loyalty program from being bombarded with too many solicitations—or, even worse, with inappropriate messages.
This quantity control effort is relatively new. Up through the summer of 2010, Eldorado's various business departments, including its restaurants, casinos, showrooms, concert venues and hotels, maintained unlinked databases. Because of this, individual properties—like the Eldorado and Silver Legacy Casinos in Nevada, and an Eldorado in Shreveport—didn't have a complete view of the value of their customers.
Additionally, with marketing efforts for each unit run independently, individuals might receive several solicitations every week–and few of those would reflect a customer's true value. It wasn't unheard of for patrons to receive three messages a week, and it definitely wasn't a stretch for some who used a wide variety of offerings to get five.
Summer 2010 saw the implementation of centralized systems for each of the company's properties. The overhauls also included data extraction tools which resulted in guests who have taken specific actions—such as staying at a hotel, or eating in one of the resort's restaurants, or booking a ski package—receiving targeted messages reflecting their interests.
While each location's operational systems are integrated, customers are still considered patrons of individual operations—and there is a hierarchy among them. A customer who enters into the Eldorado database through, for instance, booking a golf package but then registers in a casino is considered a casino customer, and his full account is considered a casino account.
This is because a casino customer's value tends to be higher than that of a hotel guest, and Eldorado wants to make sure incentives spur the most lucrative behavior among recipients. Gambler guests might receive $49 room offers, compared with hotel guests who don't use casinos, who might be offered $69 rates.
Eldorado also augments its files through a series of pop-up questionnaires which are put in front of visitors to its Web site. By asking only a few questions per visit, each property is enabled to send ever-more customized promotions such as birthday messages.
E-mail Coverage Improves
Integrating the systems allowed the company to move ahead on a secondary goal of boosting e-mail address coverage among its members. In all, Club Eldorado, the Eldorado properties' loyalty program, hosts around 1 million participants. Before the overhaul, around 25% of them had e-mail addresses attached: The goal for 2011 is to achieve 50% coverage, according to Chad Hallert, director of e-commerce and Internet marketing for The Eldorado Hotel Casino and Silver Legacy Resort Casino.
Sweeps, giveaways and online promotions generate a fair number of e-mail addresses, but the bulk of them come from in-person interactions, such as people registering at check-in desks or inquiring about their comps. The integrated system has helped with list hygiene: When service reps pull up a customer's account, they immediately know whether recent e-mail communications bounced, and can ask for new addresses.
These aren't the only steps Eldorado has taken to boost e-mail list hygiene. On a roughly quarterly basis—more if it has recently conducted a promotion geared toward signup—Eldorado sends its e-mail file to FreshAddress for updating and appending.
Appending e-mail addresses to the records of clients who hadn't offered them gave Eldorado's management pause, initially. But the company had an established business relationship with these patrons, and was careful to ask for permission for follow-up messages. Hallert says there was very little pushback from recipients.
Occasionally FreshAddress comes up with an e-mail address different from one already in the Eldorado database. In those cases, guest accounts are manually flagged, and the addresses are put into a special bucket, and their open and click-through rates watched for several months. If the old address yields a lot of activity, it is kept: If not, customers receive a one-time suggestion that they be communicated through at the new addresses. These special buckets aren't large: Hallert estimates a given quarterly update will yield between 250 1% and 2% such instances.
By and large, Hallert says, campaigns sent to e-mail addresses provided through FreshAddress's Email Change of Address offering have better response rates than those sent to newly appended addresses.
"E-mail addresses go bad every year," says Hallert. "[Growth] is a steady process and FreshAddress helps, but it's definitely a two steps forward, one step back process."
Hallert acknowledges there had been pushback regarding a heightened focus on e-mail as a communication channel. Members of the marketing department wondered whether the Eldorado's demographic was e-mail responsive, and urged—and received—tests in conjunction with direct mail efforts.
The Eldorado has been conducting a series of 90-day tests to evaluate each channel's impact. While it is early in the test cycle, Hallert has noticed one surprising result: multiple channel tests, including sending e-mail messages to arrive before or after a traditional mail effort, have not yielded any significant impact on response rates. "Which is funny, because any textbook would tell you it should," he says.
Hallert doesn't have pat answers for why this is, but speculates it may be because his client base views his properties as special event destinations. Once customers decide to attend for, say, a concert, they are less likely to be spurred to make a second visit within a given time period.