Caesars, IBM team up to deliver personalized trips

SAN FRANCISCO—Caesars is turning data into experiences. Caesars Entertainment Corporation; global consulting agency Bluewolf, an IBM Company; and CRM platform Salesforce have partnered to enhance trips through technology.

With the aggregation of customer data at distinct touchpoints, Caesars is now able to customize the guest experience based on personal preferences through its digital channels. Caesars will use Salesforce to identify these preferences and send relevant offers and suggestions through its mobile app.

“We’ve always been known as an analytical and data-driven company, but we haven’t had the capabilities in our marketers’ hands or employees’ hands to do this level of personalization,” said Jennifer Nocco, VP of marketing and strategy for Caesars Entertainment.

Across properties under the Caesars, Harrah’s and Bally’s brands, Caesars can now aggregate this data with the help of Bluewolf to create one unified customer profile (UCP)—including guests’ preferences and information across gaming, entertainment, dining and even shopping.

“Everybody in the industry can understand the desire of what it means to provide real-time, personalized interactions for their guests, but what does that look like inside of an organization that is trying to execute it?” said Corinne Sklar, CMO of Bluewolf. “Everybody has the vision, but they’re held back by silos in technology and in business—the availability of data and having the right technology platforms.”

According to the company, challenges in the past included the lack of both data and connections throughout the different areas of experience.

“We’ve had issues between teams and with data. At any one of those given touchpoints, it could have been an excellent experience for the guest, but it didn’t necessarily connect throughout the journey,” Nocco said.

For example, Caesars could have a customer with little gaming data but a wealth of data in other areas of the hotel experience. Now, Caesars can use different kinds of data from these segments, whereas, in the past, Caesars was targeting guests based on very little information.

Access to these different areas provides a 360-degree view of all different types of customers, which enables capabilities for Caesars’ marketers to trigger communications to guests or employees via digital channels, Nocco said.

“We know things like what their room preferences are, when they’re spending—show tickets, placing sports wagers—in any of our business verticals, F&B and a plethora of entertainment experiences. We’re aggregating all of that information so we understand more holistically,” Nocco said.

Nocco said that Caesars is already seeing interest shift from its core gaming piece to different types of trip components like concerts, spas and celebrity and chef experiences.

The key is tracking the guest journey at all points—and doing so at a fast pace—and making trips cohesive, which is something Caesars wasn’t fully able to do prior to this partnership.

“We’d kick off these projects and the business wouldn’t see anything or hear anything for maybe even a year,” Nocco said. “This helps us to identify improvements in efficiency or talk to a specific customer group that we may not have had access to the data previously.”

According to Sklar, Caesars and IBM have a long history with established trust, giving IBM the permission to begin building this new operating model.

“It starts with that alignment,” Sklar said. “It’s not something that happens overnight. Now that we have that system in place, it’s about execution.”

Nocco agreed and recognized this is something that takes time, still anticipating there’s work to be done. 

“It’s not the case that we’ve scoped out all the work we’re going to do in the future,” Nocco said. “We’re partnering with the business to continually refine our roadmap and prioritize based on where we think the greatest value is and then releasing regularly so they see changes happening to the application in real time.”

Much like anticipating these changes, Caesars and IBM have to accommodate the ever-changing guest as well. As technology evolves, so do guest expectations.

“The minimum expectation from our guest is what they’ve seen from other entertainment providers. There are a ton of parallels we can draw across industries for what those expectations are for when they visit hospitality companies or entertainment providers,” Nocco said.

The operating model needs to keep pace with this in order for its success, and according to Sklar, technology needs to not only be flexible to satisfy these expectations, but also have a team and leadership behind it that supports guests’ and the business’ custom needs.

The natural symbiosis of the partnership allows for this, delivering a way for Caesars to leverage the technology efficiently.

“We’re one team across the business with IT and Bluewolf, and that’s key to how we’re able to be successful,” Nocco said. “We have this cross-functional team with all of this experience. It makes us able to develop these solutions that are very thoughtful and robust because we have that diverse perspective.”

Ultimately, through this newly aggregated information, Caesars and IBM hope to deliver a better service experience and encourage guests to make key decisions to get the most out of their trips.

For Nocco, this is about putting in place an operation that keeps Caesars from ever reverting back to the point where it was prior to the partnership—with outdated tech, not able to keep pace with the guests as they transform and seek out new experiences.

“We’ve started to see an evolution in terms of what guests are expecting from us by providing this holistic entertainment experience,” Nocco said. “You could have a guest coming to Vegas who’s not necessarily looking to get rich, but they’re looking to have a rich experience in some other way.” HB

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