Cover Story: Direct Marketer of the Year: David Norton
Know When to Hold `em
Harrah's loyalty program continues to hit the jackpot.
"We track 80 percent of our gaming spend to someone using a Total Rewards card," Norton says. "Always."
At first called Total Gold, Harrah's loyalty program began in 1997 and passed into Norton's hands a few years after he joined the company in 1998. Having been renamed Total Rewards in 2000 upon the introduction of many improvements, such as tiered reward levels, Harrah's CEO Gary Loveman tasked Norton with further enhancing the program. Loveman remembers Total Rewards II as an "enormously successful" fundamental relaunch of the program.
Since working on 2003's Total Rewards II, Norton has led launches of two more versions of Total Rewards. Informed by database analytics, the June 2004 relaunch introduced a fourth tier to the rewards program that caters to the 0.15 percent of customers who contribute 12 percent of Harrah's revenue.
The loyalty program's database holds information on 9 million active customers and more than 40 million total casino-goers. Part of the reason loyalty card holders aren't classified solely as gamblers is non-gaming spend now qualifies for rewards.
"I think that the program that David administers, Total Rewards, is central to the way we operate the company in a way unlike any other business I'm familiar with," Loveman says. "And, accordingly, that program needs to get better routinely. So no matter how effective it is at a moment in time, I am always pushing David to make sure that it's better and better as our competitors work hard to try to, in one way or another, emulate it.
"I think the place where I challenge David the most," Loveman continues, "is to enhance the functionality of the program, the ubiquity of the program, the quality of the analytics that are generated by it, and, perhaps the most daunting of these, to make sure that all of our operating businesses—the 52 casinos we operate around the world—use the tools that David creates as well as they should be used. And that is probably the biggest challenge."