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Best of Howard Stutz

Gaming Guru

Howard Stutz

Station Casinos rewards loyal customers

25 November 2009

LAS VEGAS, Nevada -- Casino companies have seen loyal customers remain loyal, even through the worst-ever recession to strike the gaming industry.

Station Casinos, zapped hardest of all the locals casino operators, wanted to do something special for its die-hard, high-end followers.

Company executives realize promotions, marketing and rewards programs need to be targeted toward devoted players as Station Casinos weaves its way through Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and reorganizes its debt structure.

The company put together a special VIP weekend celebration earlier this month at Red Rock Resort, bringing together 250 high-end customers from every Station Casinos property. It was the first such event in its history.

Players took part in an all-out weekend that included dining trips to several Station Casinos high-end restaurants, spa excursions through the Red Rock Resort spa, golf outings and summer-camp-style classes, such as sushi rolling and pastry making, all taught by the company's executive chefs.

"Now more than ever it's important to recognize and reward guest loyalty," Station Casinos Chief Operating Officer Kevin Kelley said. "We wanted to step out of the box and thank them for their loyalty in a way that our competition just couldn't."

The highlight event was a Saturday night dinner featuring actor Mario Lopez, a finalist on the television series "Dancing with the Stars." Lopez hosted a "Dancing with the Stars-style" competition between several casino hosts.

All 250 customers received a free seven-day cruise. One customer won a $100,000 Mercedes S550. Another 10 players won cash prizes totaling $100,000.

"We had an overwhelmingly positive response from the players that attended this weekend," Kelley said. "It made them feel valued and that's how you grow guest loyalty."