Uncommon Loyalty

By Abigail A. Lorden | April 08, 2008

It could be that they help their guests save their marriages, or that their casino floor is always fresh and tidy; whatever the reason, it's working. Wynn Las Vegas is managing to foster consistent guest loyalty in a highly competitive town, and in the complete absence of a formalized loyalty program.

"Our loyalty strategy is really 'The Golden Rule.' Treat others as you would like to be treated, and try to make that experience the best that guest has ever had," explains Scott Carcillo, vice president and chief information officer for Wynn Las Vegas.

Wynn Las Vegas arguably goes beyond the golden rule to treat its guests as much like royalty as anywhere outside of Buckingham Palace can accomplish.

Consider the employee who helped a guest make anniversary reservations for him and his wife at a neighboring property's show, and even arranged for items the guest had forgotten to be delivered to the room, in part during the employee's time off. On a separate occasion, a guest lost $4,000 dollars while on property. The money was turned in to the property's lost-and-found and later claimed by its rightful owner. (In both instances marital bliss could very well have been at stake.)

Wynn Loyalty Unveiled
In a typical loyalty program, a guest would rack up points based on the number of nights stayed (or the value of the associated room rate), and have the option of redeeming those points for more room nights or perhaps amenities in the room. Wynn offers no such program.

The property does offer a player's club, discreetly named "The Red Card," but the program has no component for accumulating points based on room nights. The only comp process Wynn Las Vegas offers is on the casino side, and it gives players access based on frequency, duration and size of play.

The Red Card is used primarily to track game play at both machines and tables and also serves as the room key. The card is also linked to the guest's folio and can be used to purchase products or services at the property. "If a guest uses it for charges, we start to get a profile of who they are," says Carcillo. "We may send the guest offers to come and stay during slower periods, which isn't uncommon with what other properties are doing," he explains.

But what is uncommon is the loyalty that Wynn Las Vegas earns with its guests. According to Carcillo, a typical Wynn Las Vegas guest stays 30 to 40 percent longer than the average Las Vegas guest stays at another property, and they come back often - just under two stays per guest per year.

None of this is because the rooms are any less expensive than other luxury resorts on the Las Vegas Strip. The hotel's occupancy rate is on par with the Las Vegas average, yet Wynn Las Vegas commands a higher room rate. During slower periods, a guest might be able to score an average rate of about $250 per night in a resort room at the hotel. During busier periods, the rates can range from around $300 to $400-plus. What's more, no other resort-casino carries the three ratings that set Wynn Las Vegas apart: Mobile Five Star, AAA Five Diamond and Michelin Five Red Pavilions. It's a premium that guests are willing to pay for, and in turn are rewarded for their loyalty with superior service.

The Service Promise
Two standards drive service, and as such staff behavior, at Wynn Las Vegas: the Wynn Core Values and the Wynn Promise. These standards start at the top with the property's developer Steve Wynn, who along with developing Wynn Las Vegas has also opened The Mirage and Bellagio, and is credited with spearheading the resurgence and expansion of the Las Vegas strip. Wynn's Core Values have four elements: care about everyone and everything; show never-ending attention to detail; take responsibility - don't leave it to others; and always strive to be better. These values are carried out to guests in the Wynn Promise; the eight things that Wynn Las Vegas pledges its employees will do: be in the moment, show gratitude, smile and make eye contact, work together, know the resort and its amenities, take pride in the resort, present your best self, and finally, communicate professionally.

These values and promises are carried out by every team member. "As we walk through the property, we straighten out chairs and pick things up off the floors. Everyone pitches in," says Carcillo. "Our approach is to try to really understand our guests. Even though it's a 2,716 room hotel, we try to make it feel like it's only a couple of hundred rooms."

So, Where's the Tech?
With the property's guest-centric approach, Carcillo takes a very deliberate approach to rolling out IT - an approach that is guided by the fundamental values of Steve Wynn himself. "One of the things that we teach our staff, and what makes a huge difference in creating the Wynn experience, is how to interact with people. Steve Wynn has a philosophy that technology should not replace a human interaction, it should enhance it."

For that reason, the property doesn't use kiosks for show tickets or easy check-in. According to Carcillo, Steve Wynn wants guests to have the opportunity to talk with employees because he believes that employees enrich the experience. "Kiosks are great for operating efficiencies, but generally people come here for a resort stay and not a hotel stay. They want to be pampered," says Carcillo. Since the property doesn't leverage IT to check people in via self-serve, Carcillo is tasked with making the front desk check-in process as seamless as possible for guests, and easy for employees to deliver on the Wynn Promise.

The property accomplishes this several ways, with strong system integration among its many business units. "We have very tight interaction between our hotel systems, F&B, and the casino," says Carcillo. "We can set up alerts that allow staff to take the action they need to take." If there's an amenity that's supposed to be in the guest room, for example, staff members have the automated ability to track the guest's location as they are picked up at the airport by the property's car service, and know exactly when they'll arrive at the hotel.

About six months ago, Carcillo expanded the property's customer relationship management with a solution from GuestWare (www.guestware.com) that allows staff to track guest preferences, such as who wants a feathered pillow in the room, and who might be allergic to down. The system tracks events throughout a guest's stay, including any positive and negative experiences the guest might have had. But since this is a relatively new addition, Carcillo stresses that the loyalty the property establishes isn't from these IT initiatives - it's from the experience. The technology component is, however, making it easier for Wynn staff to deliver on the promise.

For example, the property is in the process of installing a business intelligence (BI) solution from Cognos (www.cognos.com) and a data warehouse from Teradata (www.teradata.com). "The core benefits of the BI and data warehousing pieces are that we can make a transition from operational reporting to knowledge workers," says Carcillo. "Our existing transactional systems don't make it easy to get at the information. Once we roll out the BI and data warehouse pieces, we'll have access to information when and where we need it." Both components are scheduled to be fully operational by June 2008.

The property also leverages a revenue management solution from Rainmaker Group (www.letitrain.com) which allows it to aggregate guest spending patterns, and Micros Opera (www.micros.com) as its property management system. All of these systems communicate via an open architecture enterprise integration engine from Tibco (www.tibco.com). "Each of the transactional systems have a great purpose to them in getting information, but it's the integrated architecture and the sharing of information back and forth that will give us operational efficiencies," says Carcillo. It's his intention to further that integration by deploying a full service-oriented architecture (SOA) over time.

But for Carcillo, the vision behind the technology component is as far away from megabits and gigabits as an IT executive can possibly be. Though it may start with a promise, for Carcillo and the rest of the Wynn staff, the Wynn experience ends with a legacy. "I have never worked in a place that was so focused on delighting the customer. The opportunity to leverage technology is tremendous. But the real opportunity I came for was to understand consumer behavior and deliver a great experience for our guests, even experiences they may not know they're having. I came here to be a part of the Wynn legacy."


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