You’ve probably heard that keeping an existing customer is cheaper than acquiring a new one, and here’s the proof from Forbes:

  • Existing customers are 50% more likely to try new products and typically spend 31% more than new customers.
  • Increasing retention by 5% can increase business profits by up to 95%.
  • From 2015 to 2020, the cost of acquiring a new customer increased by almost 50%.
  • Businesses are up to 14 times more likely to sell to an existing customer than to a new customer.

One way to keep customers returning to your business is to provide a loyalty program that adds value to their experiences and encourages them to keep coming back. Within the casino gaming industry, loyalty programs are very common—due to the sheer fact that they just work. As in most industries, 20% of a business’s customers are responsible for 80% of their revenue. Because of this, these loyalty programs can get quite competitive as they vie to outdo one another. Creating unique selling points that stand out from the crowd is a challenge.

Our team helped Gila River Resorts & Casinos reimagine and rebrand their existing program in order to make it one of the best in the industry. Here’s how we did it.

Research Levels the Playing Field

Typically, players join a casino’s loyalty program (frequently called a players club) to earn points they can redeem for cash, comp dollars, or other rewards. Casinos get valuable customer data and tracking information in return. Players are assigned to a tier based on their level of spend and the consistency of their play, and that tier defines the benefits and perks they receive.

To be competitive with other casinos in the area, Gila River’s program first needed to meet consumers' expectations while still offering the same basic structure that was familiar to their audience. Essentially, Gila River needed to level the playing field by delivering benefits comparable with their competitors. This was the easy part.

A Multi-Faceted Differentiator

To then surpass their competitors, Gila River needed to up the ante with strategic positioning that set them apart. When everyone is dangling the same perks, those perks are no longer as valuable. We decided to pivot positioning from the benefits of being a member to the advantage of having the card itself. What does this card really grant customers? The answer was access. The card was ultimately all about access. Access to free play, dining, stays and, through strategic local partnerships, even perks outside of the Gila River properties. This was the key differentiator that would elevate Gila River’s players club to the top of loyalty programs. 

The Device Provides The Access

Positioning the card itself as the device that provides access to benefits and rewards led to a name that encompassed the entire program: THE Card. The name change was accompanied by new card designs, an upgraded loyalty magazine with more customized features, and on-property promotions to inspire anyone already playing to use THE Card. 

The Card by Gila River

To further introduce THE Card, we launched our “Play on Player” campaign, highlighting access to exciting new possibilities through customized rewards that puts power back in the players’ hands. The campaign was executed through an integrated mass media effort that emphasized the “Access” message and drove guests to the property.

Room to Expand and Grow 

Loyalty programs should be built with the future in mind. Part of the strategy of any program is to ensure the opportunity to evolve it year after year.

With Gila River’s access positioning, we created a program that allowed us to grow into and expand the benefits well beyond gaming. Since the program’s launch, several new offerings and additional access options have been added. 

Give Power Back to the Player

Through added value, perks, and points, loyalty programs not only reward already-loyal customers, but draw in new ones as well. Gila River’s new loyalty program and the promise of access appealed to a younger demographic of players: the program saw a 24% increase in enrollments—proving that when you give power to the player and stay loyal to your loyalists, they return the favor.

Do you need help launching or rebranding your brand’s loyalty program? Contact us today.

Want to see more on casino gaming? Since finalizing THE Card, Gila River Resorts & Casinos has launched several branding campaigns. Take a look at our most recent campaign here.