Big Data is providing the entertainment industry with essential insight to enhance loyalty and customer relationship programs in order to enhance margins, Joshua Kanter, vice president of Total Rewards for Caesars Entertainment, Las Vegas, Nev., told an audience at a Chicago AMA seminar Tuesday.

“One of the most valuable items in our industry is a gaming license [Caesars is up for one in Cincinnati), Kanter said. “But Big Data is even more important than a gaming license.”

According to IBM estimates, more than 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are generated every day. The sheer volume, speed and variety of the information make it daunting, Kanter said. Data at one time was in well-defined formats and fit easily into standard databases, but the advent of social media meant an explosion of unstructured data.

Some of the data in the Big Data bucket has been available for some time, but companies had been unable to use it due to a combination of storage, processing power, analytical and timeliness challenges, according to Kanter. But these challenges have been solved or minimized.

Hadoop has enables companies to more easily and less expensively store large amounts of data. Technologists solved the processing power issue by breaking the processing requests into smaller units that could run in parallel and then be rejoined at the end. New apps have solved many of the analytical challenges. Similarly, new technology has eliminated much of the lag between the time it takes to gather information and to derive actionable information from it.

Kanter credits insightful use of data, and more recently, Big Data for much of the success of Caesars Entertainment’s Total Rewards program, which has more than 45 million members worldwide, and to the success of Caesars Entertainment as a whole.

The company has gone from being able to trace 58 percent of money spent with the company down to the customer level in 2004 to being able to trace 85 percent of the money spent today. That provides Caesars with unique insights into customer behavior. Other entertainment firms tend to have only small slices of this information because a movie theater won’t have information on a customer’s dining, or a restaurant may have little knowledge about what a customer did on the rest of his or her night out.

Caesars, by contrast, collects information from customers while booking stays, travel arrangements, dining, gaming and enjoying other activities at the company’s properties. The company uses this information to deliver personalized, meaningful marketing messages to customers.

This information also helps Caesars fine tune its pricing model, Kanter added. Executives know from the data they’ve collected how customers are likely to react to pricing changes.

Kanter envisions even more expansive use of Big Data in the future. Caesars has thousands of cameras embedded throughout its properties, primarily for security and fraud prevention. Those cameras also capture valuable customer traffic information. In the future, this visual data may be able to help Caesars detect and avoid bottlenecks. Kanter foresees linking the information to mobile devices to help customers know different wait times at different Caesars restaurants (at the same property).

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