Jennifer Johnson was recently named vice president of loyalty marketing at Foxwoods Resort Casino (CT), which is the largest resort casino in North America.

Loyalty360 talked to Johnson about her goals connected to customer engagement and customer loyalty, among other topics.

What are your main goals as VP of Loyalty Marketing at Foxwoods from a customer engagement/customer loyalty perspective?
Johnson: At Foxwoods Resort Casino, my goal is to deeply understand what our guests truly want and meet them where they are. My team strives to understand our guests’ preferred means of communication and media so we’re speaking directly to them. We also focus on identifying what types of experiences and activities they want so we can deliver an informed loyalty approach through excellent guest service, enticing offers, and innovative technology.

Does Foxwoods have a loyalty program and, if so, how has it changed in recent years? How important is listening to your customers as part of an overarching strategy on customer loyalty?
Johnson: The Foxwoods Rewards Program was launched 25 years ago and has evolved alongside our guests. As the market and our customer database change, so do our parameters around what makes a successful program. We’re always looking to modify our loyalty program to make it more enticing to our customers. We want our card to be the second one they think of behind their driver’s license when they go out.

Part of that evolution is looking at what data is available to us and what research we can do to create new insights. We look at our overall market share, member volume, and conduct loyalty surveys to uncover what our guests think about the property and the Foxwoods brand. If the results are trending lower than our benchmarks, we quickly pivot to ensure we’re constantly delivering on a strategic and impactful program. It’s all part of understanding that the evolution is an organic process–you can’t have the same loyalty program for years and expect the same kind of results.

What is being done well with your current customer loyalty initiatives and where do the challenges lie?
Johnson: A lot of the initiatives we’re working on now track back to creating benefits that are meaningful and tailored to individual guests. It’s important to understand the different customer segments–what appeals to one doesn’t appeal to another.

For example, our gaming guest typically just wants to play more, so offering them match play and related free gaming benefits is most enticing to them. Alternately, a guest who visits Foxwoods for a show or a special dining occasion is drawn in by the overall property atmosphere, so having something new to do while coming for a night out–like bowling or passes at our new Thrill Tower–is most important to them.

We’re also doing a lot more in the way of outside partnerships–we know not everyone spends every minute of every day at Foxwoods, so we look for partners and alliances that speak to what guests like when they aren’t at our resort. Some of our most successful partnerships in this area include everything from national brands like cruise lines and AAA, to regional destinations like the New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Mystic Seaport, Mystic Aquarium, and more.

When I joined the team at Foxwoods, one of my first objectives was relaunching a refreshed rewards program for the property. The old program had become stagnant; few customers recognized that we even had a program, and those that did didn’t understand what the benefits were. When we relaunched the new program last year, we focused on giving people choice benefits for the first year through a structure that also allowed them to increase their tiered member status quickly. This year, we’re also focusing on changing the benefits so members can have options beyond what they’re used to, which includes double benefits and offers that expand beyond gaming and speak to a more integrated resort offering.

How do you define customer loyalty and has that definition evolved in recent years with the ever-changing customer expectations?
Johnson: Ultimately, it’s about knowing what customer segments are relevant to your industry. For us, it’s not just gaming and non-gaming–it’s hundreds of sub-segments as well. Success means finding those niches while looking to build loyalty in your organization and working to service them. The process must include many little changes that speak to our guests and add up to the sum total. Some are drawn to the offers, a special event or promotion, or to advertising–it’s critical to recognize that everything tied together makes the program most effective.

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