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Seven Stars Insider – September Edition

Maroon 5 Total Rewards Concert

Maroon 5 at Total Rewards Concert

Here are highlights from the latest edition of Seven Stars Insider. As always it has lots of information, especially for the Atlantic City players. This is an easy read and an excellent resource for Caesars Total Rewards players. It’s still long but full of information. Head over to Seven Stars Insider to sign up for the newsletter.

NOTE: While this newsletter was originally designed exclusively for Seven Stars cardholders, there is useful information for anyone who has a Total Rewards® player’s card and/or plays/stays at a Caesars property. Please feel free to pass this on to your friends. Back issues of the Seven Stars Insider newsletter are available online at http://www.sevenstarsinsider.com.

LAS VEGAS

‘Book Me On The Next Flight To LAS!’
Once again Caesars marketing folks have outdone themselves in the “dumb offers” department. Why would they offer complimentary accommodations and show tickets as a special incentive to travel to Las Vegas when, as a Seven Stars cardholder, I’m entitled to these benefits anyway?

LAUGHLIN

‘Toys’ Aren’t Us
Justifying the request by citing the increasing popularity of bachelor and bachelorette parties, inspired perhaps by such films as “The Hangover”, Caesars has petitioned Clark County to allow casino gift shops to sell a limited inventory of sex toys and other “marital aids”. However, members of the Laughlin Town Advisory sent a strong message to county commissioners by voting to deny the request. The issue will go before the Board of County Commissioners on September 18.

ATLANTIC CITY

Dream On
The fourth – and final – planned installment of the popular nightly light show at Boardwalk Hall is now on display. Titled “AC Dreamin’”, it features two people who, after taking a train ride to Atlantic City, discover a variety of things the city has to offer. It features the same assortment of animation, music, video and 3-D lighting as the three other shows that have been produced over the past year, but this time there is a story with people and narration. In the eight-minute video the two people stay in a luxurious hotel, enjoy rides and games on the Boardwalk, and observe an underwater beach.

Go East, Young Man
The “mystery man” I chose not to identify last month is Rick Mazer, a top Las Vegas gambling executive, who started his career 30 years ago as a craps dealer. According to several published reports, in a filing last month with the New Jersey Casino Control Commission, Mazer applied for licensing as a key employee, senior vice president and general manager of Harrah’s Resort.

In addition, Caesars spokesman Gary Thompson said Mazer will oversee the $125.8 million convention center expansion at Harrah’s and the company’s proposed $1 billion hotel-casino development Suffolk Downs Race Track in East Boston, Mass. He comes to Atlantic City after serving as president of Harrah’s, Flamingo and The Quad in Las Vegas, as well as overseeing the $550 million Linq project that will include retail shops, restaurants and a 550-foot “High Roller” observation wheel. Prior to his Las Vegas tenure, Mazer was general manager of the Horseshoe Hammond in Indiana.

No word on what role, if any, Mazer will have in the management of Bally’s, Caesars and Showboat, as well as Harrah’s Philadelphia in Chester, Pa.

Was It Something I Said?
The Boardwalk Buffet at Caesars will close September 16 for much needed improvements. In the meantime, those who crave a breakfast buffet will have to settle for the tasteless, rubbery pre-made omelets, greasy bacon and other abominations at Café Roma.

PHILADELPHIA

Get Into The Kitchen
If you’re in the Philadelphia area – or plan to travel there, Harrah’s has a unique venue to hold your annual Seven Stars celebration dinner. Its Chef’s Table in the kitchen at The Cove will dazzle you and your guests, and make the evening a truly special occasion.

The Chef’s Table can accommodate up to 10 people, and the menu can be tailored just about any way you want. Do you prefer an Asian or Italian-themed meal? No problem. Have a certain budget in mind? They’ll work with you. Have a particular entrée in mind? Chef Erick will prepare it to your specifications. Want to just order off the regular menu, but watch how your meal is prepared? Done!

If you’ve never witnessed a professional restaurant kitchen in action – short of “Top Chef” or one of those television reality shows – this is your opportunity.

You just need to give them advance notice so they can work out the menu and other details with you. Contact your host to get things started.

Special Seven Stars Benefits
Harrah’s knows how to treat its Seven Stars
cardholders:

  •  Look for the special Seven Stars-only cashier at the main cage. You can’t miss the sign over the entrance to two dedicated windows. You may have to ring the bell to get some service because they’re not always staffed, but, while you’re waiting, you can always enjoy a delicious piece of wrapped chocolate with the Seven Stars logo. You might even want to slip a couple pieces of the delicious morsels in your pocket – just don’t forget or you’ll find a gooey mess once you return home. Yep, I’ll admit it, I did just that! What a mess!
  • To check into the Diamond Lounge, look for the dedicated path leading to the desk where you’ll be the next person called if there’s a line. (I’ve heard staff members warning of up to 45-minute – or longer – waits to get in on a busy weekend night.) Someone also comes to greet and escort you to special reserved tables by the windows overlooking the racetrack.
  • The Seven Stars Happy Hour is still held on Fridays, but the time has changed. It’s now from 5 to 7 p.m. in the lounge at the Cove. In addition to complimentary cocktails for the Seven Stars cardholder and a guest, passed hors d’ouevre are served.

AND IN OTHER INSIDER NEWS. . . .

Love Boat
With few exceptions, nearly everyone I heard from raved about their Signature Experience cruise to Bermuda last month. There was some minor quibbling about an overly crowded cocktail reception at the hotel in New York the night before the cruise, but, overall, it sounds like Caesars earned its “A+” on this one. A second and third cruise have been scheduled for this month and next, respectively.

Getting To Know You – Part One
If there is one question I get most often, it’s: “Why can’t casinos better tailor their offers to my schedule?”

Players frequently complain that their mailboxes are filled with offers of free food and bonus slot play, but they’re valid on days when they never travel to their favorite casinos. “I get offers for $50 in food and $150 in free play all the time, but they’re good only Monday through Thursday,” one person told me. “Can’t they tell by my play that I only travel here on weekends? It’s like they know I can’t use these offers, but they think I’ll be impressed just by receiving them. Guess what? It just angers me and makes me
want to play someplace else.”

Getting To Know You – Part Two
Speaking of tailoring offers to customers, one Seven Stars cardholder sent me his offer of a comp room in Atlantic City, as well as the chance to convert Reward Credits into free slot play. “Considering that, with 48 hours’ notice, I’m supposed to be able to get comp rooms anywhere – OK, I know there are some exceptions – why can’t my mailer from Harrah’s Resort recognize my Seven Stars status and include some other sort of promotion or ad?” he writes. “Also, as a Seven Stars cardholder I’m supposed to be able to convert my Reward Credits for slot play at a discount – $5 for 675 Reward Credits (a ‘retail value’ of $6.75), yet my mailer is telling me it’s $5 for 1,000 credits (a ‘retail value’ of $10’).”

Door Stop
Companion cardholders who have access to a Diamond Lounge based on their own play should show their Diamond cards when they check-in. I’ve heard several reports of players being embarrassed when they were told they couldn’t bring a guest into the lounge. The person at the door just didn’t pay attention and assumed that these Companion cardholders weren’t eligible for entry based on their own play.

Gifts That Keep On Giving
How many more sets of luggage, pots and pans, or manufacturers’ close-outs do we really need? Last month, for example, Bally’s and Harrah’s Resort in Atlantic City gave out pancake makers and breakfast sandwich makers. Do any of us really need these? I don’t know about you, but I’m trying to reduce clutter in my kitchen. If the casinos are going to continue to dole out gifts, how about something useful like the ubiquitous gas cards or Visa gift cards?

At least these don’t have to be shipped across country, warehoused and delivered to ballrooms for distribution – and then schlepped home by us. Code Green, anyone?

Hold On
Apparently no one from Total Rewards has been subjected to the monotonous – and out-of-date – “on hold” message you get while you’re waiting to make a reservation or calling with a question. For approximately three minutes – and then it repeats – you hear blurbs about Lake Tahoe, Atlantic City, Tunica, etc., as well as the newest addition to Total Rewards, Horseshoe Casino in Cincinnati “which will open this spring”

Survey Says. . .
Last month I asked you whether you preferred attending city- or casino-specific events open to all Seven Stars cardholders, e.g., the events in 2012 held in Atlantic City and Las Vegas, or having your choice of several different types of events. The responses fell into two categories: those who were able to reserve space on the August cruise to Bermuda and those who didn’t. Those who went on the cruise hope another one is scheduled next year, not only because they really enjoyed themselves, but because they also felt the entire package had a much greater monetary value than any of the other choices. The rest preferred the types of weekend events which were held in the past.

This Month’s Survey
My guess is that the staff at Total Rewards is already working on the details of next year’s Seven Stars (and Diamond and Platinum) program, hopefully tweaking some rules and considering suggestions from its many surveys. Here is a portion of my “wish list”:

  • For the annual retreat and Level I Signature Experience, allow the $500 folio credit to be used for food and beverage, as well as other charges such as spa treatments, in-house show tickets, etc. Many of us travel alone and cannot possibly use that amount of money on meals. Plus, if you’re staying at a casino that does not allow Reward Credits to be used for alcoholic beverages, or you don’t drink alcoholic beverages, that makes it all the more difficult to spend the $500.
  • Offer an option or some sort of alternative for those who don’t like to travel or travel by air. The annual retreat and the Level I Signature Experience each currently includes up to a $1,200 airfare reimbursement. While I know that concessions have been made “privately” for some customers, why not codify this “officially” with some alternatives that might include a mileage reimbursement for those who prefer to drive or offer some variation of the popular “stay-cation” where someone can choose a retreat at his/her “home” casino and get the transportation credit in the form of free play or a gift card?
  • For those who are comfortable making their own travel arrangements, let us skip the “middleman” [a casino host] and make our own travel arrangements with Passport? And, while you’re at it, waive that $10 per ticket charge that Passport imposes. After all, you’re forcing us to use Caesars own travel agency, then you take $10 per ticket off whatever amount you’re giving us as a reward for our play.
  • Don’t force us to have that one-time $500 celebration dinner. Many of us have a difficult time organizing a group for dinner, or don’t live near a local casino where we can invite our friends and family to dine. Just add extra Reward Credits to our account, and let us spend them as we choose.
  • We all have different “needs” and tastes, so offer free play or a gift card as one of the options for the annual gift. I know you’re trying to give Seven Stars cardholders a variety of benefits, e.g., a trip, a dinner, a gift, etc., but, at this stage in our lives, most of have just about everything we want or have the ability to purchase it.

I could go on and on, but I’d like to hear from you. What changes would you make to the 2014-2015 Seven Stars program? Send me an email and I’ll share your thoughts – anonymously, of course.

 

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Seven Stars Insider – August Edition

Penn jillette Total Rewards

Penn jillette

Here are highlights from the latest edition of Seven Stars Insider. As always it has lots of information, especially for the Atlantic City players. This is an easy read and an excellent resource for Caesars Total Rewards players. It’s long, but full of information. Head over to Seven Stars Insider to sign up for the newsletter.

ATLANTIC CITY

‘Do I Hear $30?’
Video poker messages boards are buzzing about some machines in Las Vegas that require $25 “coin in” to earn one tier credit. VP players have always needed to play twice as much as us slot machine players ($10 coinin for one tier credit), and the fear is that this policy will start finding its way into other markets where Caesars has casinos.

Eat Your Pickles – or No Dessert!
Bally’s held a pickle-eating contest on the Boardwalk last month to promote the re-opening of Pickles Deli and its new self-service ordering system.

Belt and Suspenders
Why is Caesars sending an email to alert customers they will be getting offers in the mail? Also, what’s with that first sentence? Who writes this stuff? What does “Iconic as Caesars is” have to do with the rest of the sentence – or, for that matter, the entire paragraph?

Bored-walk Buffet
Customers at Caesars Boardwalk Buffet were a little taken by surprise last month when the venue changed its schedule to offer only brunch for $25 (beginning at 9 a.m.) and dinner for $32 (from 2 p.m. to closing). I was there for lunch one weekday around 1:30, and heard lots of grousing over the price – plus the fact that there were no longer breakfast and lunch options at a price point less than $25, and that dinner prices kicked in as early as 2.

Even worse was the fact that half the buffet contained heaping piles of dried up pancakes, waffles and French toast, along with overcooked bacon and sausage that hardly anyone was eating at that hour. An egg/omelet station attendant was basically standing around waiting for the changeover to “dinner” service when it would become a pasta station.

The other additions to the menu – pizza, grilled “steaks” and more vegetable choices – didn’t seem to justify the $7 premium, especially when compared to the more creative and upscale fare across town at the Borgata where the dinner buffet is $31.95 (but only $10 each for a Borgata Black Label cardholder and a guest).

A week or so later I returned for breakfast when the buffet opened at 9 and found the opposite situation. Lots of unappealing “lunch” items (mussels, clams, turkey breast, sliced carrots, broccoli and several Chinese specialties) that already looked “tired” even though the buffet had just opened – and which hardly anyone was eating.

Notably missing from the brunch menu, though, were bananas, fresh strawberries, bagels and smoked salmon, though there were plenty of canned pears, peaches and stewed prunes.

Looking for toast? It’s back by the desserts, along with an assortment of pastries and made-to-order waffles.

Apparently, the $25 brunch price includes a mimosa or bloody mary, yet during neither visit did my server offer these. Why not delegate this to the hostess who takes your order for other beverages?

Food and Whine
I attended the Kick Off Party for the Atlantic City Food and Wine Festival last month at The Pool at Harrah’s Resort. I got there about 10 o’clock – three hours after it started and an hour before it ended. There was one long line that extended from halfway on one side of the pool to halfway around the other.

While I think the line was actually for the free Absolut vodka cocktails being served, anyone interested in trying some of the food on that side of the pool couldn’t get to it without standing in line for 30 minutes. Figuring I’d just get a drink and skip the food, I ordered my favorite alcoholic beverage at the bar, only to be handed a bill: “Cash or credit card, no room charges.” Huh? This event doesn’t have an open bar?

When have you been invited to a party hosted by a casino and then asked to pay for a cocktail? [Retail price on the ticket was $55, but I had been comped by my host.] I took my drink and left.

Ever since I attended the opening night pool party at last year’s Seven Stars Signature Event, I’m convinced this is not the venue to hold one of these “Taste of. . .” parties. There’s just not enough room to arrange the various food booths to avoid the inevitable traffic jams. People instinctively form one big line rather than visit each restaurant’s booth individually. Plus, I’m amazed no one fell into the water!

Oh, by the way, I never got to rub elbows with Rocco DiSpirito.

Food and ‘Wow!’
Imagine receiving this invitation: Join us in the Paladium Ballroom at Caesars for a wonderful low-calorie, low-fat, low-sodium, low-sugar dinner. “Uh, thank you, but I’ll pass,” you say. “I’ll just take another slice of pizza with extra cheese.”

Fortunately, the folks at Caesars didn’t show their cards in advance, and everyone sitting in the elegantly decorated ballroom had no clue that the delicious meal they were about to enjoy was just that – a typical casino dinner of salad, surf and turf, and dessert, but with a fraction of the fat, calories, sodium and sugar usually associated with these affairs.

Sitting on each table was a beautiful “relish tray” – when was the last time you saw one of those? – with a variety of heirloom cherry tomatoes, small raw beet quarters, baby carrots, and an assortment of colorful orange, green and purple cauliflower florets. (Did you even know cauliflower came in colors?)

The meal began with a lightly dressed salad of assorted greens, fennel, orange sections and lima beans included several slices
of beautifully seared rare tuna.

The combination entrée featured a perfectly grilled filet – pizzzaiola-style – and a crab and cod cake, along with thin spears of crisp-tender asparagus.

Dessert was a silky smooth panna cotta with sugar-free chocolate and caramel sauces, garnished with fresh blueberries, blackberries and raspberries.

The menu was devised by celebrity chef Rocco DiSpirito and his team, and prepared by Caesars Banquet Chef Tim Davis and his crew.

Just before dessert was served, DiSpirito made a brief appearance to explain how he cut the calories and reduced the fat, plus demonstrated how to make the dessert and its accompanying sauces.

I understand that the following night’s Beach Soirée at Caesars attracted 1,100 guests and was equally successful.

Congratulations!

Under Construction
Construction is underway at Harrah’s Resort on a conference center, billed as the largest of its type in the Northeast. Cost to build the facility is estimated to be $126 million. The project, designed to host corporate meetings complementing the conventions and trade shows at the Atlantic City Convention Center, will include 250,000 square feet of space. In addition, there also will be two ballrooms, each featuring 50,000 square feet of space.

HARRAH’S PHILADELPHIA

Construction Zone
Work is underway to construct new high limit slots and table games areas on the casino floor. There are temporary areas set-up, so you won’t be stuck playing pennies, nickels and quarters while you wait for work to be completed.

Color Blind
Remember this joke when you were a kid: “What’s black and white and ‘red’ all over?” The monthly mailers that Harrah’s Philadelphia sends to its Seven Stars cardholders are black, white, red and grey, and generally look pretty nice. However, when it comes to readability, any Graphics 101 student will tell you not to print red ink on a black background – it’s nearly impossible to read. Add to that the advancing age of many of us Seven Stars cardholders, and it makes it even more difficult to decipher the special code Harrah’s prints for collecting bonus free play on certain days.

No More Temptations
Temptations Buffet is history, but no one is disclosing what will replace it. Several options, some of which include entertainment along with food, are under consideration. Watch this space.

AND IN OTHER INSIDER NEWS…

Companion-ship Does Not Have Its Privileges
Many Seven Stars cardholders became extremely upset last month when “new” rules regarding entry to the Seven Stars and Diamond Lounges, as well as use of the Companion card, became effective – supposedly with no notice – at Harrah’s Resort in Atlantic City. Among these rules:

-Seven Stars cardholders may bring up to only three guests into the lounges. If the Seven Stars cardholder has to leave the lounge for any reason, his/her guests must also leave. And, unless the Companion cardholder checks in first as an individual, if one of the three guests holds the cardholder’s Companion
card, he/she is considered one of the three guests.

– The Companion cardholder may use the lounges only if the primary cardholder is “in the market” – but may not bring any guests. In other words, say you’re in Atlantic City or Las Vegas. The primary cardholder must be a registered hotel guest and/or be showing play in any of the Total Rewards casinos in that
city.

Actually, it turns out that these are not new rules at all. They always have been in place. It’s just that no one ever told anybody, and not every casino was enforcing them. Frankly, with two exceptions, I agree with these rules.

For example, what’s to stop someone from bringing his/her three guests to the Seven Stars Lounge, leaving for 30 minutes, then returning with three more guests? Why should someone be allowed to bring in six guests when I play by the rules and bring no more than three?

And, yes, the Companion cardholder should be counted among the primary cardholder’s three guests. None of the Seven Stars lounges in the country are that large, so there is good reason for these limitations. To put things in perspective, at The Borgata in Atlantic City, the Society Club – Borgata’s equivalent to a Seven Stars lounge – allows Titanium cardholders only three guests. The cardholder and one guest are admitted free of charge. For the other two cardholders, the Titanium cardholder’s comp account is charged $20 each. The Society Club is more than twice the size of either of Atlantic City’s Seven Stars lounges, it is much more elegant (think high ceilings, crystal chandeliers, grand piano), and the food makes what’s served at the Seven Stars lounges seem like high school cafeteria fare. [I’m not being critical of the
lounges or what they serve – particularly at Caesars – but, in comparison to The Borgata, well, there is no comparison.]

What I don’t agree with is the rule that says the primary cardholder must be “in the market” in order for the Companion cardholder to use the Seven Stars or Diamond Lounge. I also think a Companion cardholder visiting the lounge solo should be allowed one guest. (Then if the primary cardholder shows up, he/she should be able to bring just one guest.)

Plus, it turns out, Caesars has a totally different definition of a Companion cardholder than a lot of us do – but never bothered to define it clearly. Here’s the difference between how Caesars and I interpret this benefit:

Basically, Caesars is saying that the “companion” part of Companion card means that this person is accompanying – being a companion to – the primary cardholder, and only benefits when they are traveling together, or are in the same city.

To me and many others, the “companion” part of Companion card referred to the primary cardholder’s relationship – legal or otherwise – to the individual with whom he/she shared this card. I know any number of people who have assigned their Companion cards not necessarily to spouses or “significant others” with whom they live (or don’t live), but to relatives and friends across the country. The reason? They rarely travel together, but wanted to extend some special privileges to these individuals when they’re not together. For example, I know a father who lives in Phoenix and is not a huge gambler, but enjoys occasional excursions to Ak-Chin, Laughlin and Las Vegas. His single son, a Seven Stars cardholder who lives in Ohio, assigned his Companion card to dear old dad. Other than possibly receiving some expedited attention at check-in, preferred seating at dinner or use of a special line at the buffet, he now will receive little benefit from the card. Another person I know lives in Boston, travels frequently and plays all over the country. Not knowing “the rules” he assigned his Companion card to a friend in California who’s not a big player, but travels frequently to Las Vegas and San Diego. Under this new strict enforcement policy, his friend no longer will be able to drop by the Diamond Lounge when he’s playing out there.

Or, what about a situation where a Seven Stars cardholder travels to Tunica, but stays and plays exclusively at the Gold Strike? Not being a gambler, her husband – the Companion cardholder – decides to visit theDiamond Lounge next door at the Horseshoe. Technically, unless she accompanied him, he would be denied admission.

So, what’s the point of having a Companion card if the primary cardholder has to be there? Let’s say a Seven Stars cardholder is traveling with his buddies to Las Vegas for a long weekend. His wife, the Companion cardholder, decides to go to Atlantic City over that same weekend. Following a strict interpretation of these rules, she wouldn’t be allowed in either of the Seven Stars Lounges. This dilutes the value of the Companion card by requiring both parties to be “in the same market”.

Regarding guest privileges, even if the Companion cardholder is traveling with the primary cardholder, perhaps that companion is not a gambler and would just like to enjoy a snack or beverage in the Seven Stars Lounge.

Why not extend the courtesy of allowing those persons someone to enjoy their company so they don’t have to be by themselves? Like the American Express card, membership has its privileges, but not companionship.

Cruise Control
Since I’ve never used my Seven Stars NCL cruise, a reader (who wishes to remain anonymous) wrote an excellent guide to getting the most out of this benefit. I’ve posted it on the Seven Stars Insider Website.

Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due
If you’re playing in a city with two or more Total Rewards casinos – and you play at more than one, good luck finding out how many tier credits you’ve earned that day. I’ve personally experienced this in Atlantic City and Lake Tahoe, and I know others who’ve experienced it in Las Vegas. In Atlantic City, play some at Caesars, then at Showboat, and no one can tell you your total daily tier credits. Check your daily play through Total Touch at Bally’s or Harrah’s, and neither that Caesars nor Showboat play will show up in your Total Daily Tier Credits. Same thing happened to me at Harveys and Harrah’s in Lake Tahoe.

The only way around this is to carry a pad and pen, write down the number of credits earned as you leave each casino, then total them manually. Very frustrating.

Balancing Act
Just as you – hopefully! – balance your checkbook each month, be sure to review your monthly eStatement from Total Rewards. Both my May and June statements had duplicate charges. Kind of makes me wonder how many mistakes I never knew about before these electronic statements. It’s gotten to the point where I now keep copies of my charges – just as I do with American Express.

Now You See It, Now You Don’t
If the Total Rewards app on your smartphone isn’t working, don’t complain to the manufacturer. The app is being revamped and should be back online by the end of the year.

Darryl D. McEwen, Publisher

Photo: Aceshowbiz

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Not All Casinos Have The Same Customer

Misfit Right In Says Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas Ad

Misfit Right In Says The Cosmopolitan

People that visit casinos know that they all cater to different audiences but never has this been more apparent than the current TV commercials for  Cosmopolitan and Boyd Gaming (Gold Coast, Suncoast, The Orleans & Sams Town).

Cosmopolitan “Misfit Right In”

Boyd Gaming “Cheers”

Both ads have a very specific target and, for the most part, those two customers won’t be the same person as evidenced by the look and sound of both ads. Both ads are appropriate for their desired customer.

The Cosmo has always positioned itself as bright, new and cutting edge hotel for a young customer. This ad successfully conveys that message while giving the customer the idea that they, the customer, are a little different. If you walk through the Cosmo you’ll see that their customers are much more alike then they think. Ironically, you’ll find a more diverse customers at a Boyd Casino.

The Boyd ad targets on an older local casino customer. “Cheers” was a popular TV show because it was the local bar where “everyone knows your name“. Not only is the song nostalgic but it represents a comfortable place to grab dinner, drinks and gamble. That comforting feeling of the casino being your local watering hole hits home as I’ve claimed the sportsbook bar at Red Rock Resort to be my local bar.

Even though both ads are drastically different, so are their customers. Both ads represent their brand well. One thing that should be noted is that Cosmo ad is a national ad while the Boyd Gaming ad is used mostly in Las Vegas.

Coincidentally I’m a potential customer for both casinos as there are some days that I want to hang with the cool kids and pretty people while there are other days I just want to hang at a bar playing video poker talking with the bartender who really does remember my name. Both ads work for me and that’s pretty amazing considering how different they are.

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Las Vegas And Vegas Are Not The Same Place

Best Of Las Vegas Logo

I began writing this post to discuss the Best Of Las Vegas Awards and I will but I realized that the real problem with the awards begins with the name. When I moved to Vegas I learned quickly that the city is called Las Vegas by people who live here. I’m a New Yorker and I’ll verbally call it what I want but you may notice that I try to use the name Las Vegas when I write. Let’s switch to the awards for a minute.

The Best of Las Vegas Awards are a product of the Las Vegas Review Journal – a newspaper for the city of Las Vegas. In theory it should be no different from local paper in any city. The Best Of Las Vegas awards are voted on by readers of this newspaper. Newspapers are mostly read by people 55 and older. About 75% of the people polled last year were over 55 read newspapers either online or in print.

Last year a study about slot machines from Oregon State University revealed that people play certain games because they are simple and familiar. The same study also showed that the average slot machine player is a woman over 50 years old. You’ll notice something with some of the winners of Best Of Las Vegas awards.

  • Best Chinese Restaurant – PF Changs
  • Best Italian Restaurant – Olive Garden
  • Best Steakhouse – Outback

These are all chains that are inexpensive and familiar. The demographic that play slot machines is similar to the demographic read newspapers (and vote in their polls). This voting does not represent my Vegas and this is probably does not represent your Vegas but this is the Las Vegas of nearly 2 million people. Actually this is Las Vegas to tbout 20% of those 2 million people who are over 55 years old and that’s really who the “Best of Las Vegas Awards” represent.

The Best of Las Vegas awards represent a medium-sized city called “Las Vegas” and not the tourist city called “Vegas”.

The real problem for these awards is that the name and logo have the ability to speak to both locals and tourists even if the voting only reflects the opinion of less than 500,000 people who live in “Las Vegas”.

Bottom line: Don’t take the Best Of Las Vegas awards too seriously.

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Twitter Board At The Mirage

When I was at The Mirage last week to check out their renovated sportsbook (see pictures and review on Vegas Chatter) I noticed that the video display opposite the check in desk had a scroll of tweets that mention the hotel. The display isn’t dedicated to twitter but the screen scrolls for about as long as the commercials for other things to do on property. I’m on twitter all day so seeing my tweets from checking in and my pictures on display was pretty cool.

This may not seem as cutting edge to me today as it would have 3 years ago but twitter is still new to many people. This is still something new and different in casino marketing as I’ve never seen this done elsewhere. The delay is such that if you check in on foursquare when you get out of your car or cab you should see your name while waiting in line to check in to the hotel. This isn’t something that will make or break anyone’s hotel stay but it’s always nice to see your name in lights. Kudo’s to @TheMirageLV for doing something different.

PS: My “Where Am I?” question on my checkin was because this was my first time self parking at The Mirage and I had no idea where I was. I didn’t realize that the garage was connected to the casino by a walkway.

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Las Vegas: Where Daily Doesn’t Mean Every Day

All You Can Eat Pancakes At Planet Hollywood Las Vegas

All You Can Eat Pancakes

I watched week one of the NFL season at Blondies at Planet Hollywood. This is my favorite non-sportsbook to watch football. Prices are relatively cheap and there are plenty of TV’s for the games.

Sunday we found false advertising at the table at Blondies. The daily special above for unlimited pancakes & $2 beer sitting on our (and every) table is not available on the weekend.

My friend was going to load up on $2 beers, but I told him to ask if it’s available before going crazy. See, in Las Vegas daily (somehow) doesn’t always mean every day.

He asked about the $2 beer special and was told that it’s not available Saturday or Sunday. I asked about the $6 all you can eat pancake special. She said it was the same.

Of course specials like this on the strip for an NFL Sunday were too good to be true. If I know Las Vegas, Blondies will keep these tabletop promotions up for the NFL season. Consider this your heads up.

Despite this, I still think that Blondies is the best place on the strip to watch the games that isn’t a sportsbook.

Note: I wrote about Flavor Flav’s Fried Chicken at Blondies yesterday at Vegas Chatter.

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Escape to (No) Total Rewards

If you are into to casinos and gambling like me, then I’m sure you have heard of the Caesars Escape to Total Rewards Promotion Game that they are running to celebrate the new branding and features of Total Rewards. If you haven’t, then I will give you a brief synopsis.

Basically you are given a slot-machine type spin and get a gaming piece. You can win three ways, you can be entered into the long-term sweepstakes, you can get an instant win, or you can get a game board piece. If you get a game board piece, it’s in one of six categories. Fill up 8 pieces from any given category and you win a prize.

Something happened with the game a few weeks ago, however, and it appeared that no one was winning any instant-wins or game board categories. No matter how many spins you tried a day (your max is 11, using codes), everyone was getting 11 entries into the long term sweepstakes. A click on the Recent Winners link showed that there were no recent winners.

This changed again last week as it appears that some people are now winning Instant Wins and are allowed to complete the Dining category, but no other prizes are showing in the Recent Wins area of the site. So what’s the point of me telling you all this?

I got into the game early enough that I was able to complete three categories before the well went dry: Dining, Entertainment, and Hotels. For Dining I was given $25 in food and beverage to use at any Caesars property. Since I was already planning on going to the Horseshoe in Hammond, Indiana, I decided I would use some of my credit on a drink while I was there.

There was one major flaw in my logic. In the Midwest, most states don’t allow the casinos to comp alcohol for play. This includes the Total Rewards points. I didn’t think of that wrinkle, so when I went to the bar they could put the money towards non-alcoholic drinks or food, but not a beer. It’s not the casino’s fault, but it’s something that people should be aware of.

At any rate, I keep playing the Escape to Total Rewards game every day, hoping to finish my last few lines. We will see if they release any more prizes in the near future. For now I’ll pile up Sweepstakes entries and hope to hit it big. After all, if I’ll gamble to win big, why not try for free?

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Cosmopolitan Changes Continue

As I mentioned last week, Rehan Choudhry leaving Cosmopolitan may be a sign that things were changing. Changes continue as Cosmo announced that they’re opening a sport bar. The EA sports bar (yes, named/branded after the video game company) will open around the release of of Madden 2012.

The new 25,000-square-foot venue, which will hold as many as 125 guests, is born from a partnership among the Cosmopolitan, EA Sports, PlayStation and Sharp. It will feature Sony PlayStation 3 consoles, a selection of EA Sports games such as Madden NFL 12, FIFA 12 and golf against Tiger Woods, and six high-definition televisions to broadcast daily sporting events.

The sports-bar-meets-lounge is designed to have an intimate “living room” feel with nine seating vignettes featuring leather chairs and sofas, as well as an antique foosball table. It will serve bottled beers and snack food and include a retail area selling clothing, gifts and video games.

Madden is the only video game I’ve purchased religiously for Xbox or Playstation in the past 10 years. I love it. Madden may be popular, but sports and sports video games are not cool or hip. They never have been.

I’m a sports guy and welcome a sports bar, but I can’t see the hipster shunning his fancy mixology cocktail at Vesper and joining the bros/dudes for a Bud Light at the EA sports bar (or lounge). Something’s gotta give.

EA branding aside, this likely means the end of Book & Stage as we know it. Book & Stage has never has been much of a sportsbook or place to watch sports. This was the case even before the Cantor Gaming sportsbook opened last year. It’s a great place to watch a small band. I just hope they don’t replace the free national touring bands with bad classic rock tribute bands.

Look for “STAGE” to open later this year. Maybe they’ll rename it “pLace” with a hat tip to Stiffs & Georges and “Family Guy“.

Things are changing at Cosmopolitan. Bro.

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Jimmy Kimmel Talks Total Rewards

Jimmy Kimmel did a promotional video for Total Rewards the players club for Caesars Entertainment. It’s cute, but so what?

As someone that has been a customer of Caesars Entertainment for years and gambles and stays at their properties I’m not impressed with their money going towards relaunching Total Rewards. I’d much rather see Caesars use the money they paid to Jimmy Kimmel or the artists that performed for the Escape to Total Rewards Concerts spent on upgrading their hotels or upgrading my casino experience.

Call me crazy, but I’d rather see housekeeping that actually cleans the room not just makes the beds. I’d also like complementary wifi. They could upgrade their email system to be as efficient as snail mail and not kill thousands of trees a week. Maybe Diamond Lounges could serve a better grade of vodka. I’m sure I could spend this money many different ways.

This campaign geared towards generating new customers, not for current customers. However, any business should be spending as much time, effort and money keeping their current customers happy as they are looking to acquire new customers.

When it’s all said and done, how does this make Total Rewards better? It doesn’t.

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What Are People Spending Money On In Las Vegas?

Q: What are people spending their money on in Vegas?
A: Not what they used to spend it on.

Over the past year people (including me) have questioned the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas‘ focus on everything but gambling, but the truth is they may be on to something as gambling made up the smallest piece of the Vegas casino pie ever, while food and beverage made the most ever for casinos.

The state’s gaming properties earned a record high 34.1 percent of their revenues from spending on “food, beverage and other (related offerings),” the control board reported. But gaming revenue sank to a historic low of 46.2 percent of the financial pie, a figure that stood as high as 60 percent in 1994.

So, while you and I may go to Vegas for gambling first, followed by good eats and drink it seems that less and less people are doing that. While this isn’t too much of a surprise, it just proves that there are less ECG-type visitors in Vegas and more Red Foo’s going to the club and spending money on anything but tables.

Still, there’s something to be said for catering to the gambler. There’s a lot of money there and that’s probably the difference between losing million dollars a year and being a profitable business.

Cosmopolitan may have been the wise one here focusing on what the future holds for revenue figuring they can play catch up on casino marketing. Time will tell.

Copyright © 2017 Marc Meltzer & EDGe Vegas