In my last blog entry I talked about the major revision Stations has made to its players club program. You should read that first to fully understand this discussion. They have changed the point calculation from $1 coin-in = 3 points to $1 coin-in = 1 point. Station casino.
I try not to be too critical of casinos – they endlessly frustrate me but I know they are companies that need to make profits to stay in business. So I try to be patient with them. But when they make changes, especially those that negatively affect their customers, it would seem to be good business practice to publicize some details, preferably in advance. People are already wary of a business that directly empties customer wallets at a fast rate. So when casinos bring in new programs that change the rules of the “game” but don’t reveal this information, it is no wonder that customers feel like they are being tricked. Doing things that decrease the trust your customers – or potential customers – have in your company is not only bad business practice – it is a public relations disaster.
If the Stations would have asked me how to handle this new change, here is what I would have said:
First, I would have pointed out that this was the third major change in their players club program in 5-6 years –, 2008, 2011, and now 2014. Customers do not like change because almost 100% of the time casino changes affect them negatively, right in their pockets!!! So if you are going to make another change, think long and hard about the long term – your customers will not want another change in 2017!
Second, local Vegas players – your major customer base – are usually savvier about casinos than occasional tourists. They know more about players clubs. They play or have played at other locals casinos. They compare programs and benefits. If they get upset with one casino, there is another option just down the road or around the corner. So don’t play advertising tricks on them. They might be fooled at first, but most of them are on the Internet and will learn the truth when the chatter blows up about the details of any downgrades.
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If they would have shown me the copy for one of their recent newspaper ads BEFORE they ran it, I would have pointed out that many customers would be extremely upset when they found out that the big red circle touting “NEW! Get 3x Points Every Day” was not an upgrade. There was no mention, not even in the fine print, that they had quietly changed the calculation so $1 coin-in gave you one-third of the value it had before – just one point instead of 3. So this 3x “promotion” is not a promotion at all. It merely keeps the point values the same as before.
I don’t know why they couldn’t have been more open about this change. Actually they could have touted this as a plus since this $1-equal-one point system is much easier to figure since it is the same as most other local properties. I don’t know their motivation for not making this clearer in their ads, because it was spelled out nicely in the monthly mailer: “Easy to earn $1 = 1 point.” This typical lack of details just opens casinos to the accusation that they are doing “dirty tricks” to get your money. That they “love locals” rings a little hollow here!
Another serious issue: Although this calculation change of players club points doesn’t devaluate their worth – you are still getting a.3% boost on most video poker games –, this change IS a definite downgrade in another area – promotions. Most promotions are calculated on “base” points and exclude multipliers. Under the new system $1 coin-in gets you 1 BASE point instead of the old 3 BASE points. Thus it would take 3 times the amount of play for promotions as it used to. In the same ad I talked about earlier, they advertise that 300 same-day base points will get you a scratch card. With no mention in this ad about the new $1-equal-1point system, many players will not realize that they will have to play 3 times as much coin-in as they would have last month under the old calculation. This lack of information may cost many an extra trip or extra money. Instead of leaving the casino with the feeling that they got good value for their entertainment dollar, they will leave feeling they had been cheated. Not a good way to promote casino loyalty.
Some players are having a problem with promotional offers they received in the mail and for which they made reservations before this new April downgrade. Hopefully the casino will honor these at the rate that was in effect when the invitation was sent out or there were be many more unhappy players.
In the same newspaper as the full-page ad I have previously been discussing, there was also another large ad about the Sunday multiplier days. I will have to give them credit that they did give full details on this promotion, albeit some were in extremely small print. If you didn’t notice that hard-to-read white-on-black explanation at the bottom of the page, you might have been fooled by the huge bold black-on-white “6X POINTS! ON VIDEO POKER” and thought you were getting an extra lucrative bonus. However, if you saw – and understood – the fine print at the bottom of the ad –, “ Multipliers are based on $1= 1 point. These cannot be combined with the daily 3x points.” – you would realize that this promotion was simply the more common double points. Not saying this is a “good” or “bad” promotion – that’s up to the individual to decide. Just know, in the usual sense of the word, it is a 2x, not a 6x!!
You must pay attention to details to be a wise gambler – and watch out for fooler information or lack there of!
A reminder: To get the 3x every-day points the higher tier players will not have to swipe, only the Preferred and Gold players. However, everyone must swipe at a kiosk (or use an app on your phone) to activate special-day multipliers. I am not sure if you must swipe before you start playing –, as you must at Boyd properties – or you can do it anytime that day. Also ALL multipliers are excluded on 100% payback machines.