Last September, online poker cardroom PokerStars (owned by Amaya Inc.) announced that it was designing a new rewards program.

In a corporate blog, Séverin Rasset, director of poker innovation and operations at PokerStars, Amaya, wrote that our new mobile world has many entertainment opportunities.

“Our new loyalty program will reward play across poker, casino, and sports, without forcing anyone to play any particular product,” Rasset wrote in the blog. “Players should feel that no matter what they play, we appreciate their loyalty. Our current reward, StarsCoin, will become the common currency for poker, sport, and casino, maintaining its current value.”

The current monthly volume-driven Rakeback model will be retired and will be replaced with one that rewards a variety of factors, such as volume, stakes, how often players play, and net deposits,” he added in the blog. “Players whose rewards are likely to be significantly decreased under the new program are being contacted today with more details of the impact on them. All players will be contacted directly by email with more details as we get closer to launch for each country.”

Loyalty360 caught up with Rasset to learn more about the changes to the loyalty program.

What factors prompted the relaunch/revamping of the PokerStars VIP rewards loyalty program and what are your goals for it from a customer engagement perspective?
Rasset: The point of any loyalty program is to reward customers who are contributing the most to a business. The first PokerStars loyalty program was created in 2006 and was very successful in achieving what it was built for Rewarding customers who played a high volume of hands on our poker site.

As we have evolved from poker-only to offering multiple games for our customers, we needed to re-think how we reward customers. Moreover, today’s consumers have different expectations for how and when they expect rewards; this is true in many industries.

So, we must look at the totality of our how our consumers engage in our products, whether that’s poker, casino, sports betting, or a mix of the three.

That’s why now is the time to promote a more recreational and engaging form rewards that delivers an exciting experience for all of our players while incentivizing the activity that creates a positive experience while rewarding the customers that are contributing the most to our business.

How does personalization fit into the new and improved program?
Rasset: The look and feel of the program take on elements of gamification to give a rich, personalized experience that recognizes the games customers are playing and provides incentives that align with their interests and achievements. Instead of focusing on long-term targets–such as monthly or annual benefits–the new program rewards players based on their playing habits in real-time, as they play.

It offers rewards more frequently through easily achievable challenges that can be reached as quickly as a single session of play. This gives players the potential for a fun and exciting experience every time they play. The rewards program will work across all three product offerings of poker, casino, and sports, allowing players to earn rewards through playing the games of their choice. This will obviously also depend on what products are available to players in their jurisdiction and what has been of interest to them previously. We believe that offering our players the games they want to play, which are relevant to them is the best way to create value for our players and for us in the long term.

When is the new program set to launch?
Rasset: We are aiming to roll out across various regions starting from the end of May and throughout the summer. However, the most important thing is to have a quality product that players can enjoy the day it is introduced in their market.

Did customer feedback play a role in this and, if so, in what way?
Rasset: When it comes to listening to customer feedback, we take a combination of qualitative and quantitative approach. We survey our players on a regular basis and we also sit down with them face-to-face in focus groups. We complement this approach by using the wealth of information we have about player behavior.
The people behind this project bring their passion, expertise, and knowledge about poker and games which I’m confident will result in the best possible product.

What does customer loyalty mean to PokerStars and has that definition evolved at all in recent years?
Rasset: For any brand, loyalty starts with delivering a compelling product and/or experience for a customer. For PokerStars, that means having a variety of high-quality games in a secure environment that’s easy to access and operate. We also believe that part of our customer loyalty commitments means doing what’s right for the game for as many of our players as possible. We have a deep understanding of the poker community and we are evolving in the ways that we measure loyalty to reflect the varied reasons why people play these games. We are confident that our players will enjoy this new program.

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