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Break Out the Cable 'Toys'

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Perhaps cable can learn a thing or two from the gambling and resorts industry, and particularly some lessons from the customer relationship management (CRM) strategies and techniques that Harrah's Entertainment has put into play in recent years.

Delivering one of the more entertaining keynotes here at the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing (CTAM) , Harrah's chairman, CEO, and president, Gary Loveman, teed up a novel concept and a key message to cable marketers: Reward your best customers, and think hard about how you can treat them in the way they deserve to be treated.

Loveman, a cable customer himself who pays more than $200 per month on services, thinks operators can do a much better job maintaining his loyalty.

"Where are my toys?" he asked, later directing everyone's attention to a 40 million-member-strong Harrah's "Total Rewards" program that serves up free rooms, steak dinners, limo service to the golf course, and tickets to Celine Dion. The more customers spend, the better the rewards they reap.

"We will do just about anything to cater to our best customers," he said.

Loveman, who considers himself one of cable's best customers based on the $230 he forks out each month for services, should entitle him to some decent goodies and givebacks.

"Not a free movie, not a hat. Just a bill every month," he said of what he gets in return for his position as a loyal, high-end cable customer.

Since he's paying $230 per month, he wants "the $230 tech" when he needs assistance. "Treat me differently. I deserve it. I'm paying the bill," Loveman stressed.

Showering cable's best customers with perks and goodies will pay off, if the recent history of Harrah's and its customer rewards program offer any indication. According to Loveman, Harrah's generated $146 per room in 1999, and $290 per room in 2006. Harrah's, presently in the process of going private, has seen its stock rise as well. The stock was dragged down to about $19 per share in 1999, but was hovering at about $84.50 on Wednesday afternoon.

In addition to success attributed to its beefed-up CRM platform, Harrah's has also boosted numbers by applying more focus on the 45-year-old-plus demographic, which is more flush with both time and money than the younger set and couples who have recently married and had children.

Loveman's suggestion of a free movie is just one "toy" cable could offer its best and most loyal customers. Don your consumer's hat for a moment and tell me what you would add to cable's toy box. I'll share the results later on.

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 3:04:55 PM
re: Break Out the Cable 'Toys' At CTAM Summit this week Harrah's CEO said MSOs need to treat their best customers to some "toys" and perks. He pointed out an obvious one that some MSOs already offer -- free PPV or VOD movies. What kind of "toys" could an operator offer you to win your loyalty? A free toaster outfitted with WiFi?
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