A loyalty program is one of the biggest line items in a clubs marketing and/or gaming budget every year. Point redemptions, comps, mail offers, member events and promotions, and staffing if you have VIP Hosts – we’re talking major dollars to keep a loyalty program running.

Is your program providing a competitive advantage in your market, or are you just like everyone else? Are you leveraging the loyalty program benefits that are most valued by your customers and focusing your communications on your strengths? Is your program driving business or has it become a cost of doing business?

The problem is that many clubs and pubs don’t have the information they need to keep their loyalty program at optimum health. They’re running their program on autopilot – they keep the monthly mailer going out, monitor the redemptions and costs, track carded play and new member sign-ups, and send out those “we haven’t seen you in a while” letters and emails on a regular schedule.

While this is all important, they are relying on the type of data that simply quantifies and doesn’t explain “why.”

Here are some other questions that data can answer:

  1. How do your members rank their key drivers for visiting a club?

      2.  How important is your loyalty program in driving visits to your club?  For example: If your loyalty program ranks fifth as a driver, then you have to investigate whether your program is below par in your market. While there is a possibility that you have other great club services, such as outstanding food, an exceptional entertainment venue or other strong competitive advantages, that’s probably not the case. The strongest likelihood is that your competitors have a better program than you do, at least as perceived by your customers. So, how do you know what your competitors are doing better, and what you need to do to improve?

  1. Ask your customers to rank attributes of your club and of your top competitors’ clubs. It’s important to know how your club is ranked in your market, and the only way to find this out is by asking your customers. You can get the information via an online survey like Survey Monkey or do in person on the floor.  You could also do as part of a more in-depth Focus Group, but it is important to good quantitative responses across many gamers on the drivers so that information is not skewed.  If you only ask your top gamers, they could have a different experience from your other lower ranked player where your growth will come from.

Below are a couple of sample formats for ranking preferences.

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When you conduct a loyalty program survey, there is key information that you should look for. Your loyalty program point system is a critical component, so you need to hone in on how this is perceived by your players. In many survey results, it shows players know how many points it takes to redeem a $1 worth of value. What hardly any players know is how many dollars of turnover it takes to earn one point.

Here’s an example of how this can hurt you if you’re not aware of it and don’t know how to counter it:

  • Club A has a point formula of $3 turnover equals one point, and it takes 100 points to earn 1 redemption dollar.
  • Club B is a key competitor and has a point formula of $6 turnover equals one point and it takes 50 points to earn one redemption dollar. Both Clubs have exactly the same reinvestment percentage, but players in that market ranked Club B as the best because they perceive that it is twice as easy to earn redemption dollars at Club B (50 points = 1 redemption dollar at Club B vs. 100 points = 1 redemption dollar at Club A).

Similarly, if all Clubs in your area are using the 100 points for $1 formulae, changing your system to seem more generous, without changing your reinvestment ratio, could be used as an advantage.

The other alternative is to educate players about the entire points formula, not just how many points it takes to earn every redemption dollar. The final component of your annual loyalty program check-up is a competitive analysis. In addition to point formulas, make a chart of what your club and each of your key competitors is offering.

The final component of your annual loyalty program check-up is a competitive analysis. In addition to point formulas, make a chart of what your club and each of your key competitors are offering:

  • Is their program based on behavioural performance or locked in tiers?
  • If tiers, how many tiers in their program, and how do you achieve tier status?
  • If behavioural, where do bonus offers kick on at each level.
  • Is their program built on discounts? How can they progress it?
  • Do they have a seniors component to the program and, if so, what are the benefits?
  • Do they have a choice of using points for free play?
  • What can they redeem their points for, internally and externally?
  • Anything else that is offered by you and your competitors.

Once you’ve gotten survey data from your customers and collected competitor information, you can then make informed decisions about what your club needs. You know your strengths, so you can promote those, and you can fix your weaknesses to become more competitive and ultimately more profitable.  Most importantly, remember to at least monitor your program annually so that it continues to be a business driver and does not become a cost of doing business.