HARRAH'S ENTERTAINMENT - Jackpot! Using IT to Manage Customer Information

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Since Total Rewards began, Harrah’s has saved $20 million a year in overall costs, while increasing same-store sales growth. At the same time, the number of Harrah’s customers playing at more than one of Harrah’s properties has rocketed by 72 percent, and cross-market revenues have consequently zoomed from $113 million to $250 million.

Some $50 million of the company’s 1999 profit of $594 million are directly attributable to an increase in revenues from cross-market visits. And more casino players today carry Harrah’s player cards than any other card in the industry, by a factor of two-to-one, according to Harrah’s own research. It’s making the rest of the industry take notice.

"Total Rewards has forced other [industry] players to take a closer look at their operations, and at how they can increase their customer base," says Falcone.

Better yet, says Schmitt, people are not only looking at but are starting to copy Harrah’s methods.

"Station Casino [a local casino operator in Las Vegas] has done the same thing as Total Rewards with its player card, [which it calls] the boarding pass," says Schmitt. "Park Place [Entertainment] is also looking to implement a national player card, as is MGM and Mandalay Bay [Resort and Casino]."

Faced with that emerging competition, Harrah’s is looking to cement the lead its investments have brought it by patenting the technology it created to allow its mainframes to talk to the Unix boxes. As Boushy puts it, if Harrah’s protects its innovations now that gives it an advantage in the future, whether it decides to use those innovations offensively or defensively.

In a cutthroat industry where every little bit of muscle counts, Harrah’s is betting that IT will be its edge.

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Copyright © 2001 IDG Communications, Inc.

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