For Michael Marino, SVP and Chief Experience Officer at Caesars Entertainment Corporation, the biggest challenge he faces as a marketer revolves around customer attention. 
“Customer attention is the biggest problem,” Marino said during Tuesday’s Loyalty360 February 2018 Brand Fireside Chat hosted by Loyalty360 CEO and CMO Mark Johnson. “Marketing is getting much harder in terms of how quickly you have to get your message across. Our program has a lot of levers to it. Our good customers love that and get a lot of value from it. It’s very difficult to get the attention of customers these days and get your message across quickly.”
Total Rewards—the highly successful loyalty program offered by Caesars Entertainment, and “the data engine that drives the whole business,” according to Marino—has provided exceptional and memorable customer experiences to the gaming giant’s guests for two decades. Marino talked about the importance of channel communication at Caesars, which is the largest casino operator and among the largest hotel operators in North America.
“That personal relationship drives better economics for us,” Marino said. “We can’t talk to every guest so we wanted to know how we can simulate a personal interaction.”
Enter Ivy, the company’s real-time guest text messaging platform. The Ivy chatbot uses machine learning to understand and respond to guest commands, including suggestions on things to do, amenity information, and housekeeping requests. The Caesars brand also looks to create memorable experiences for guests, even those that had never stepped foot on one of the company’s properties.
For example, Caesars found that things like signing people up for its Total Rewards loyalty program, getting them to download the Caesars app, enrolling people in its branded credit card, dining at high-end restaurants, and attending shows are all massive loyalty builders. By driving these actions, Caesars continues to position itself as a brand with which customers are looking to engage, even outside the traditional window of a hotel stay.

“Ivy has been great, and folks that engage with Ivy give us significantly better scores than folks who do not,” Marino said. “We’re very happy with the results. It’s very clear that’s she’s having a good impact.”
Five people work with Marino in the following areas:

  • Brand and Consumer Insights (Try and differentiate the brand in a cluttered market)
  • Loyalty: How can we stay top of mind with customers all the time and provide them with the best experiences?
  • Digital Marketing: Try and target the right customers to build a funnel for us with the next wave of good customers
  • Marketing Operations: With so much new technology, we’re finding ways to leverage that and partners
  • Customer Journey: Bringing all of these things together. How do I get into the loyalty program? How do we prompt a customer to make a return visit? Where are the pain points and how can we address them?
The common thread among these different areas of focus is a technology slant, Marino noted.
What’s more, Marino talked about two major partners for Caesars: Norwegian Cruise Line and Atlantis Paradise Island Resort in the Bahamas.
“These are data-based sharing deals,” he said. “We reward our good customers with free trips to visit those places. What we found is our customers do other things than visit us. We help them go on these vacations. They reward us later on with their loyalty. They love the trips. They have phenomenal experiences. We took the bet, and customers were asking for these things. We’ve seen really good results.”
For Marino, what it boils down to is this: “Listen to your customer and measure it. In our business, people aren’t making 52 trips to Las Vegas per year. We are always looking for other things to connect them back to our program.”
On a personal note, Marino attended the University of Virginia and holds a passion for University of Virginia basketball. This week, Virginia assumed the No. 1 ranking in men’s college basketball for the first time since 1982 when the legendary Ralph Sampson played for there.
These monthly Loyalty360 roundtables give brand members an opportunity to come together regularly and talk industry trends, issues, and other topical discussion. Each session has a keynote speaker who “presents” on a topic or issue and the session opens to discussion from all participants.

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