The first challenge in the casino business is getting customers to walk in your front door. Casinos have spent billions of dollars building casinos that appeal to the senses, keeping customers in awe at every turn. But once you're in the front door casinos, like to keep you there with free drinks, dinner and rooms. As Las Vegas changes, casinos are making an effort to change along with it -- not always with the best results.
Nightclub operator SBE has even agreed to redeem MGM reward points at some of its properties, and to allow customers to build MGM points at SBE venues.
Missing the point
On the surface, MGM's efforts look like a step in the right direction. Las Vegas Strip casinos now get 60% of their revenue from non-gambling sources, so giving customers rewards for dining, shopping and gambling makes a lot of sense. But the execution has been anything but smooth. With the launch already delayed, the blogosphere has been ripping the M Life program, questioning whether MGM has any loyalty for its customers.
Eliminating new resort fees may help MGM retain customers more than a new loyalty program will. MGM Grand greets customers with a “hidden” $18 fee for a bunch of amenities they're unlikely to use. Of course, MGM isn't alone here. Wynn Resorts
There seems to be a disconnect between casinos and customers about what loyalty is. If MGM can figure it out, they may have a better chance of surviving, and create more of the kind of goodwill that Las Vegas needs to turn the corner this year.
M Life is a nice try, but MGM has to do more than give me a pretty website to win me over.
More on casinos:
Fool contributor Travis Hoium does not have a position in any company mentioned. You can follow Travis on Twitter at @FlushDrawFool, check out his personal stock holdings or follow his CAPS picks at TMFFlushDraw.
Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.