MGM reinvents loyalty program


M Life is MGM Resorts International's answer to Marriott Rewards, Hilton Honors, Caesars Entertainment's Total Rewards and other hotel or casino customer reward programs.

But it's more than a slot club with loyalty incentives.

Let's say you're planning a guy's weekend in Las Vegas. On the M Life website you can develop the entire weekend itinerary, all within the confines of MGM Resorts' 10 Strip hotel-casinos.

Zumanity at New York- New York can follow dinner at Aria's Julian Serrano. The evening can end at Studio 54 in the MGM Grand. A visit to Bellagio's Spa is followed by dinner at Mandalay Bay's Red Square. The evening concludes at Jet nightclub in The Mirage.

Get the idea?

MGM Resorts Chief Marketing Officer Bill Hornbuckle said customers have reduced vacation budgets. MGM Resorts wants those dollars spent in its Strip casinos, not the competition.

Last year, MGM Resorts dropped Mirage from its corporate name in favor of a trademark symbolizing more than just two hotel brands. The company also trashed its previous loyalty program for M Life, which tracks preferences, personalizes incentives and offers more rewards to a database of 60 million.

M Life launched last week. The initial effort rewards customers for their gambling. MGM Resorts will do the same for nongaming spending, such as hotel rooms, dining and entertainment.

That's where M Life veers from other casino loyalty efforts.

"We need to recognize our customers do more at our resorts than just gamble," Hornbuckle said.

MGM Resorts spent millions developing M Life and took the rollout national. Chairman and CEO Jim Murren made his usual pre-quarterly earnings trip to Wall Street last week to meet with analysts and financial media. M Life topped his agenda.

He told Bloomberg News that the program would add "tens of millions of dollars to our profit. It's an untapped opportunity."

In that vein, MGM Resorts is looking outside for partnerships. The company will announce a deal shortly with Los Angeles nightclub and restaurant operator SBE Entertainment, which owns the Sahara. The agreement tailors rewards to attract SBE customers to MGM Resorts properties.

Partnerships with Indian casino operators and hotel groups are also being pursued.

Hornbuckle believes M Life is a key element for operating in the post-recession environment.

"M Life changes how we work with our customers and it builds loyalty," he said.

Howard Stutz's Inside Gaming column appears Sundays. He can be reached at hstutz@reviewjournal.com or 702-477-3871. He blogs at lvrj.com/blogs/stutz.

 

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