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Jilly's thoughts on mLife changes [and "Players Clubs" in general]

Discussion in 'Comps' started by JillyFromPhilly, Oct 1, 2012.

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  1. JillyFromPhilly

    JillyFromPhilly Tourist

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    I've been reading a lot on here lately about changes to & problems with mLife, and the schizophrenic comp offers coming out of the various properties and their players clubs lately. And I started writing what I wrote below as a reply to a different thread, but then decided to make it a new one.

    I just really don't understand why everyone gets so hung up on their "corporate" offers - it's obvious that [especially with mLife] the computerized system doesn't work well, so just call before you get upset about your offer - you might be doing youself a favor.

    This is why I've always essentially ignored my "offers" and just stuck to doing it "old school" - when I want to come out, I call a host at whatever property I want to stay at, and work it out with them then. If they don't make me happy, I say "thanks but no thanks" and just call up a different property. I guess the day I say "thanks but no thanks" for the same planned trip to every property I'd want to stay at is the day I stop coming to Vegas.

    But I will once again echo the same refrain that I've been posting a lot on here lately - because I think it's a message a lot of people really do need to read, understand, and take to heart:

    The big casino operators and their players' clubs show you no loyalty. At any given moment, they can and will decide to change [or even completely take away] whatever points or status you've earned, what they're giving out in comps, or even whether they give comps out at all, on little or no notice - last year it was LVS [Venetian/Palazzo], apparently this year it's MGM/mLife, and who knows, next year it might be CET, Wynn, or even Boyd - so instead of wasting your time and money, and investing your emotions, in building up tier credits or total reward points or express comps and attaining "super-duper triple secret diamond" status with any one club or property, learn to play the field - people like to call Vegas a "monopoly" town, but really it isn't - yes, a few large players dominate, but there's still plenty of choices [five main operators to choose from on the strip, not counting independents like Treasure Island & Cosmo - and many more if you're willing to go off-strip or downtown] - so before each trip, call around, see who's willing to give you the best offer that trip, and make your staying & playing decisions on a per trip basis - that way, you won't burst a blood vessel or feel cheated when Casino chain X, Y or Z - that you spent 5 years giving all your business to for some little perk that you really could've paid for yourself 10 times over with your play - suddenly decides they don't value your business as much [or at all] anymore.

    Times have changed - corporatization has taken more and more of the decisions out of the hands of the hosts & the executives who actually understand the psychology of a gambler and what they value, and for the most part have turned the decision making over to a bunch of bean counters looking to maximize profits above all else - and they don't care who they piss off, be it a penny slot grinder or a multi-million dollar whale - if the accountants or risk management folks decide you're no longer profitable, guess what? It's thanks for your loyal business the last X years, but this is the way things are now.

    For years, I considered myself a "loyalty" guy. I would stay & play at the same place(s) year after year - both in Vegas and Atlantic City - and there was a time when doing that actually paid off, because the casinos rewarded loyalty with loyalty. Up until last year, I was a loyal Wynn player since the place first opened, until my "good" hosts all left and the place started treating me like I should thank them for the comps, instead of them thanking me for my play. So this year, I've hit Aria twice, my upcoming trip later this month will be at Palazzo, and next trip, who knows - maybe Aria or Palazzo again, maybe Caesars Palace [for the first time since '04/05], maybe even Wynn again if the offer is right. Likewise, in Atlantic City, despite the fact that I've given them at least a few visits a year for the last two decades, I recently left the Taj for Caesars AC, because a host I have a good relationship with moved - so I moved with him, because as far as I'm concerned I "owe" a lot more loyalty to him than I do to the Taj. If he hadn't been there all these years, I probably would've completely abandoned that Taj back when the Borgata opened & I started playing there as well, but it was my relationship with him that kept me coming back.

    So my other advice would be - even if you consider yourself a "micro" roller - take the time to cultivate a relationship with a good casino host - because a good host is the gambler's best asset when seeking to get the best comp deals for themselves - and while owners may come & go and players clubs may change, hosts can [and often do] stay at a property year after year, taking care of their customers the best they can, no matter who owns the place or what their players club is. True, the hosts seem to have less and less power and discretion with each passing year, but having a live person you can get on the phone is still a far better alternative to relying on some computer generated offer and an 800 number to call if you have questions or a problem, isn't it?

    Right now, I'm sure some of you who have kept reading up to this point and are also familiar with me & my level of play are thinking to yourselves "But Jilly, you're a 'high roller' - you can probably make Noir or Seven Stars in one or two trips - so of course you don't care about the players clubs, and of course a host will always answer your call and take the time to get to know you and work things out for you because of your level of play" - and yes, there's probably at least some truth to that - I'm sure my level of play, host relationships, lines of credit, etc. will always make it easier for me to get an offer at a property I either haven't visited in a while, or even ever.

    But one of the great things about this board is the diversity of levels of play its membership brings to the tables - and from what I've read, I think the idea that only a "high roller" can call up & get some kind of offer out of a host isn't really true - I regularly see plenty of posts talking about how "I got an offer from place X, Y or Z and I haven't played there in years..." or "I barely gave them any play the last two years, and suddenly they're offering me..." - and yes, even "I don't have a very big gambling budget, but my host always takes good care of me..." - likewise, if you read trip reports across the spectrum, you'll see that even being a whale like Natedogg doesn't mean you're immune to this new trend [remember his last TR, when the MGM Grand told him he "wasn't profitable", despite the fact that he was a longtime customer who was down six-figures for that trip with a $2M LOC?] - being a "high roller" no longer means they will grovel at your feet for your business, and being a "low roller" doesn't mean you're automatically excluded from using a host's services, either.

    So just remember - they may call players clubs "loyalty clubs" or offer "loyalty rewards", etc. - but all they're really doing is offering you a brass ring [which they might decide to maker harder or impossible to reach at any moment] to get you to want to be loyal to them - when they long ago stopped being loyal to you.

    Just some food for thought :peace:
     
  2. jacj2020

    jacj2020 Tourist

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    An excellent perspective :nworthy:

    Forget the Corporate offers, go with the best host offer you can get and don't get too loyal to a particular casino. :Þ
     
  3. CreditRocks

    CreditRocks Tourist

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    Great article, I agree that loyalty has been taken out of the equation and comps have become purely a numbers game. I have built a great relationship with a host and I get better offers than someone who risks triple the amount of capital than me. So, I think that relationship with a host > loyalty with a particular company.
     
  4. UKFanatic

    UKFanatic The Arbiter of Taste Caviar Kid

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    I will add one thought: even if you are a low roller, approach a host anyway and see what he or she can do for you. It never hurts to ask and the worst they can do is say no. Now, if they are rude when they say no, find another property (that's what prevented me from staying at aria for a year and a half). But a good host will try and help you if the bean counters will let them. A few years ago when I was a red and green chip bettor, I approached a host at Bellagio. He was friendly, comped my room (which was almost certainly an overcomp) and gave me a comped fountain view room on my next trip. And even on future trips when my play did not warrant antyhing special from him, he was always friendly and encouraged me to check back with him in the future. Now that my play has grown to black, lavender, and yellow chips and there are a couple properties competing for my business (wow, never thought that would happen), I still try to send that Bellagio host my business. Like Jilly said, I feel like I "owe" him for treating me well when I was a smaller player, not MGM. My first ever gambling trip, I took $50 to tunica and that was my entire gambling budget for an evening. Never thought I would reach the level of play I am at now, but a good host can recognize that you may be a loyal customer in the future if they treat you right now
     
  5. Boone

    Boone Tourist

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    I don't think you are taking into account how many micro-low rollers use the standard computerized comp system as a means to plan a Vegas trip. There are thousands upon thousands of micro-low rollers that if there was no computer offer the hosts couldn't keep up with helping all of them.

    I agree 100% that a physical presence at the casino is the way to go, you have someone fighting to get you there whereas a computer doesn't care. I think you have to set a minimum for a host. If you are going to play $10 blackjack then Bellagio wont be able to help you etc.

    There is the rub - the casinos don't have the manpower in the hosts to cover the general population so the computerized system comes in handy. Players accept that they will receive a little better of a deal and consider that enough to make the plunge. They get accustomed to a certain price per stay based on their usual play - and now that accepted price and level of play is being threatened. I am guessing when I say this but no matter what the computer says these changes probably won't affect a $100 + player, maybe not even a $50 player.

    I wonder if there is a breakdown anywhere that has the level of play and how many players there are in Vegas at any given time? I think that the pyramid structure would be well represented showing that the base of the pyramid is $10 players
     
  6. Nevyn

    Nevyn VIP Whale

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    A lot of what you say makes sense. I don't think any of the loyalty programs are owed are loyalty. And I've always been underwhelmed by the tier benefits offered, and overwhelmed by the amount of play it would take to reach the tiers.

    But as to your comment about micro-rollers using hosts, I'm on the fence about that one. I mean, this probably depends a lot on how you define micro-roller, and on their choice of game.

    But I certainly doubt a host would do much for me beyond what I get from CET corporate. Heck, I think a set of eyeballs actually looking at my play history might be given to wonder why I'm even getting as much as I am.

    Even more importantly, I don't actually want a host. I want the freedom do decide at any point that I'm not feeling it, and I don't want to play at a property, and the worst thing that will happen is I don't get future offers.

    Could I do that if I had a host, too? Sure. But then I'm kind of screwing over a person. My lack of play will reflect poorly on him.

    I'm going to be looking around at other casinos for a future trip. And I know they don't all do the offers like CET's rate calendar, so I may end up calling and talking to a host. But all I'm looking for at my level is a free basic room, and potentially on an off night. And if I can get that without dealing with a host, I'll do it.
     
  7. Flyers

    Flyers Tourist

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    Jilly.

    You are so right. People need to develop relationships with a host and that will do wonders. Whatever corporate offers you get, use that as a baseline and go from there. People need to realize that we the customer have just as much power as the big corporations. Loyalty to a host is far more important than loyalty to a property.

    :peace:
     
  8. DFdetroit

    DFdetroit Tourist

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    Great post, Jilly.

    I've only recently started using a host and it's made my trips a whole lot better. I think the key is to have reasonable expectations from your host, based on your play. I'm never afraid to ask for anything from the host, but always with the understanding that they might have to say no. In fact, I've been surprised on a few occasions with what my host IS willing to do, just because I asked nicely and genuinely appreciate their help.

    The biggest advantage I've found is in the little things. I'm still getting a comped room, but now it's a better room than I would get through the Loyalty Program. I'm also getting help with reservations for dining, club entry, etc.. Are these big things? Not really, but they definitely make a trip more enjoyable.

    I understand the desire to be able to play wherever is lucky, but I don't feel a host prevents me from doing that. I still wander the strip and show my first-timer friends all of the sights - I just make sure to play my bigger sessions at my home casino. And if I'm not lucky there, I stop playing. When my host at MGM Grand asked me why I didn't play as much last trip, I was honest and said, "I wasn't winning." He noticed that I had played a lot on the first two days and none at all on the second two. I still got a room comped for my next trip.

    All in all, anytime I can deal with a person instead of a computer, I'm a happy guy.
     
  9. sapphirevegas

    sapphirevegas Low-Roller

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    Great post Jilly. Makes me feel a lot better about my upcomming trip. 6 days out. YAY! I have been stressing out that my host offer is over my head by level of play, but I am going to go and have fun. I work hard in the service industry and am looking forward to being taken care of for a week! I will let you know how my first time working with a host turns out.
     
    wedding trip!!!
  10. Nittany1

    Nittany1 VIP Whale

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    Well said Jilly.
    My hosts have always provided way more than corporate offers.

    I disagree with the people who do not want to use a host because they don't want to feel obligated to play more.
    The host is comping you on past play.
    You should not feel you have to play any more than normal.
    If you play less they may not be able to offer you as much on your next trip.
    In my experience ,hosts have been the way to go.
     
  11. maximus56k

    maximus56k Tourist

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    Great read Jilly and I agree with the notion of moving around and I do believe the higher your play the easier it is to get a response when looking. I play at a pretty high level on slots and have never found it hard to get a look from a host but my Mom and Step-Father who are Gold level Mlife members that spend maybe 5 hundy a day they are not really getting much love. They do get pretty good offers from Mlife to NYNY and the Monte and they like it.
    It intrigued me so I asked one of my hosts last week about Mlife's reasoning for the direction change. She, like most, isn't really up to speed on all of this mess but from what she gathered from most of the meetings they have been to is this. Her words: "They want to gear the entire Milfe experience back toward a pyramid style set of levels that encourages people to play more at our properties. They think the offers had gone too far up trying to get low level players in house and not enough for the higher players. In the next 12 months they are going to monitor it much closer and have us (the exec hosts) work more with the higher level clients. They limited the EC's only to cover themselves."
    I believe what she says, but Mlife getting it done is a whole other deal!
    If they were only consistent with the offers we would cut the criticism in half but their system is flawed horribly.
    I have to admit they have done good for me and my family and I can't say too much about them but most of that has come through my hosts not Mlife Corp. Even thought they have been good I am taking Jilly's advice and I am having a few meals and play a bit at some other properties in December.
     
  12. mike_m235

    mike_m235 Tourist

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    The other thing that you get with a host, that you might not get from corporate is that if you usually play to one level but have one trip that you underplay for whatever reason, the host is going to see that. Mine told me 'we all get one mulligan' when it came up.

    The other thing, which someone else mentioned, was the 'little things.' Early check-in, no problem. The best seats to a show -- hosts have a reserved block of the best seats (even if they aren't comped, you can buy them). A really nice table at the restaurant that you want reservations to (view, etc). Bottles of water in your room. Tons of stuff that cost the casino next to nothing but make your stay much, much better.
     
  13. wrobinson32

    wrobinson32 Tourist

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    Thanks for the great post Jilly, more true then ever.

    I've been gambling at the Wynn since it opened. Pretty much the only place I've stayed while going to Vegas, with the odd trip out. My hosts were decent enough in the past, but in the last several months I've seen a marked decline. My last two trips I got utterly shafted on comps after logging 30 hrs x $980 on my previous trip then losing my whole line on the following two.

    But like you've said. There is plenty of competition. With the exception of good, qualified hosts that manage players well, the marketing offers / arrangements at competing casinos are probably a better way to go.

    At least there is competition in Vegas, I can't wait to say the same about the Bahamas. Atlantis was never great, but they've gotten even worse on comps and management in past year.
     
  14. natedog666

    natedog666 17 and 20 Expert

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    Great post Jilly! Your thoughts about casino loyalty are especially on target!

    I use to be very loyal to Wynn and MGM as well, but in the last couple years there has been an obvious decline in host service quality.

    For me, because I deal with the international marketing department, I attribute this to the "BRIC gambling horde effect". The number of high roller Chinese and Brazilian (also Mexican) gamblers have risen dramatically in the last few years, and most international marketing departments have shifted a lot of manpower over to cater to them. Since they are relatively new gamblers, they have little concern over comps and discounts, and are very very profitable for the casinos. Their numbers have also been constantly increasing, so there's always 2 new gamblers for every one that runs dry. This has allowed a lot of hosts to become lazy, and go after the quick buck. I also find that casinos and hosts get complacent when the economy gets better, as they see more and more customers come in they can afford to lower service quality.

    We have to understand that hosts get "paid" when you lose or don't use all your comps! Not directly, but through bonuses and undercomping percentages. That's why I don't feel a lot of loyalty towards my hosts, since they are doing their jobs and they get paid good money to do it....the better ones don't suck you dry in one trip...just over decades :)
     
  15. ardee

    ardee VIP Whale

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    Thanks for your insights, Jilly and natedog666.


    This is why we've learned to stay and play at the places we enjoy in Las Vegas, whether or not we're comped.
    Everything else is gravy to us.
    I understand it's not the way for everybody on the board but it works well in what we're looking for in our Vegas experience(s).

    Our host is a cog in the wheel to help us get what we want, just as we are in getting what the hotel/casino wants.

    Circle of life and all.
     
  16. Hodge21

    Hodge21 Newbie

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    New to these boards but wanted to comment in support of a host regardless of play level. We were low rollers at one point but as the years have gone by our bankroll has increased and so have our trips. IMO we warrant a host now but we've used hosts for years...even when our budget was low and we felt funny about asking what they could do for us and being shocked when rooms/charges were comped.

    Earlier this year I went on a girls trip, didn't gamble anywhere close as what I would during trips with my husband but I was upfront and let the host know this. She comped a corner suite at Aria, made sure we had connecting rooms, etc. because she knew it was a one off and that I would be back (often!) and it didn't impact/reduce future comps. Dinner and show reservations are also a big deal to us. We always get the restaurant/times we want and that does enhance our experience.
     
  17. UKFanatic

    UKFanatic The Arbiter of Taste Caviar Kid

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    Is this why your host at MGM told you that you were no longer profitable to them? I have never understood how they could say that during a six figure loss trip??? Makes me wonder if they really meant, we've got other new gamblers who are more profitable to us
     
  18. natedog666

    natedog666 17 and 20 Expert

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    I believe that's the case. There are 3M+ players I know that just eat the free food in the Baccarat room and have a nice villa....barely in their rooms....just gambling ALL the time. By my calculation these are wildly profitable players for the casino (even save on the bathroom amenities haha)
     
  19. BeeeJay

    BeeeJay President of The Red Lobster Hostess Satisfaction

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    Excellent read. Thank you for posting Jilly. And thanks for expanding Natedogg.

    It's very eye-opening to me to consider a host with multiple $3 million players and how it must be nearly impossible for them to pay any attention to a $10,000 line player.

    I wouldn't bend over to pick up a penny with thousands of dollars on the table either.

    my friend is headed to Taiwan for 3 weeks, I told her to keep an eye out for the Natedogg!!!
     
  20. UKFanatic

    UKFanatic The Arbiter of Taste Caviar Kid

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    Ahhhh, so my penchant for requesting those extra bath salts is what is hurting my comps :nono: Lesson learned, lol
     
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