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Gaming Guru

Howard Stutz
 

Hard Rock Las Vegas launches loyalty program

26 March 2012

By Howard Stutz

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino launched a rewards program this week with a name that describes what its music-loving customers most covet: a Backstage Pass.

The new system lets Hard Rock customers earn points for every dollar spent -- gaming and nongaming -- at the 1,500-room off-Strip hotel-casino. But the rewards are a little bit different than those offered by hotel-casino companies with multiple properties.

Based on points earned, Hard Rock guests can score complimentary concert tickets to shows in The Joint, free passes and priority access to the property's Rehab Pool Party, priority entry into the Vanity nightclub along with complimentary bottle service, and exclusive access to the hotel's spa.

As far as an actual "backstage pass" to a concert, Hard Rock Chief Marketing Officer Brian Bork said the reward was a possibility, depending on the act.

"We do have meet-and-greets with our performers, but not all musical artists participate," Bork said. "So we didn't want to mislead our guests."

Before joining Hard Rock, Bork had experience with Caesars Entertainment Corp.'s Total Rewards program and the M Life program operated by MGM Resorts International. Each company, however, operates 10 Strip resorts and hotel-casinos in regional and international markets.

The Hard Rock Hotel is owned by Brookfield Asset Management, a Canadian company, and managed by Warner Gaming. The property operates separately from the Hard Rock casinos owned by the Seminole Indian Tribe in Florida.

Because the rewards are focused on a single hotel-casino, not multiple resorts in different markets, Bork said the Hard Rock Hotel needed to focus on the interests of its hard-rocking guests.

Gaming, while an important aspect of any Las Vegas resort, is the not primary marketing tool for the Hard Rock.

"Our guests look at us more as a nightlife and entertainment venue than a casino," Bork said. "So we wanted to offer rewards that speak to our customers."

The Backstage Pass program does offer traditional players' club benefits, such as hotel room upgrades, casino rewards and dining exclusives.

But it's the priority access to nightlife and pool events, and insider privileges at The Joint, including access to concert ticket presales, that make the program unique, Hard Rock executives said.

Hard Rock CEO Bill Warner said the program -- which is used as a player tracking system by the resort to improve its marketing and promotional messages to hotel-casino guests -- allows players to unlock increased rewards as they advance through the tiered program.

Backstage Pass has three levels: general admission, entourage and platinum access.

Bork said every dollar spent by a customer is counted. Backstage Pass members earn 10 points for every $1 spent on nongaming amenities, including hotel services, dining, nightlife, entertainment, spa and salon treatments and retail.

In the Hard Rock's 76,000-square-foot casino, table game play is rated no matter the wagering activity. Slot machine players receive one point for every $1 wager at reel or video slot machine and for every $2 wagered on video poker. One hour spent at the poker table is worth 500 points.

"Many casinos don't even begin to rate you unless you spend $25 or more," Bork said. "We will rate you, track you, and reward you for play no matter what you spend and where you spend at the Hard Rock."

Concert tickets are earned by accumulating 25,000 points, which is roughly $2,500 in spending.