Caesars, Starwood Hotels Join Loyalty Programs to Lure Consumers

Caesars Entertainment Corp. and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc. are jointly promoting their customer loyalty programs, offering guests an incentive to spend more on rooms, shows and meals with both companies.

Customers will be able to earn and redeem loyalty points on both the Starwood Preferred Guest and the Caesars’ Total Rewards programs, Las Vegas-based Caesars and Stamford, Connecticut-based Starwood, owner of the Sheraton and Westin brands, said in a statement today.

Casinos have long offered free rooms, meals and chips to high rollers, and Caesars was among the first to bring the kind of customer loyalty program pioneered by airlines to the industry in 1997. With this deal, Caesars expands its marketing beyond gambling as non-gaming revenue gains importance, while Starwood gains access to customers of the biggest operator of casinos in the U.S.

“We’ve been migrating the program to be a true hospitality program versus simply a gaming program,” Tariq Shaukat, Caesars’ executive vice president and chief marketing officer, said in a telephone interview.

Revenue from gaming fell to 36 percent of all consumer expenditure on the Las Vegas Strip in 2012, from 59 percent in 1984, according to the University of Nevada’s Center for Gaming Research. Gambling spending rose 1.1 percent to $5.56 billion last year from 2011, while non-gambling revenue climbed 8 percent to $9.72 billion.

Slot Machines

Customers of Starwood and Caesars will be able to start combining points across both networks starting Jan. 9, according to the statement. As well as for lodgings, customers will able to redeem points for events such as the May Britney Spears concerts at the Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino in Las Vegas.

Caesars’ Total Rewards program now has more than 45 million members. MGM Resorts International, the largest casino operator on the Strip, announced similar points-sharing agreements in June with Hyatt Hotels Corp. and Southwest Airlines Co. through its M life loyalty program.

“We’ve seen significant growth in our database and that has yielded higher bookings in our rooms,” MGM Chairman and Chief Executive Officer James Murren said in an Aug. 6 conference call.

Caesars rose 0.5 percent to $20.26 at the close in New York yesterday, taking its gain this year to 193 percent. Starwood shares rose 2.3 percent to $75.91, taking its advance to 32 percent in 2013.

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