Cable Looks To Casino for Advice

Harrah's offers lessons in relationship marketing

The nation's largest cable operators are betting that a big casino can teach them about direct marketing to subscribers.

Such operators as Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications and Charter Communications are spending tens of millions of dollars on sophisticated software to learn more about their customers' preferences and habits in the hope they can be more effective in offering packages and special services.

The gaming industry thrives by using such tools for customer retention and repeat business. A particularly compelling model is Harrah's Entertainment's strategic transformation into an interconnected business not unlike the multiple-system operator (MSO).

CTAM Summit 07, July 23-25 in Washington, will feature two presentations on Harrah's and its marketing strategy as well as several study sessions. On July 24, Harvard Business School Professor Rajiv Lal will present the Harrah's case study in a session dedicated to relationship marketing. On July 25, Harrah's President/CEO Gary Loveman will deliver a keynote address on the subject.

“We selected this case because relationship marketing is top-of-mind for MSOs,” says CTAM President/CEO Char Beales. “Harrah's shifted from being an operations-driven to a marketing-driven organization, and that's what the cable companies are eyeing. We can learn from Harrah's approach.”

The Harvard Business School case study, a featured component at CTAM's Executive Management program (CTAM U), examines the methods used by Harrah's Entertainment to build a loyal relationship with its customers and establish a distinct Harrah's brand. To achieve this, the company moved away from viewing each of its properties as a stand-alone business and designed customer–centric marketing programs targeting the areas of new business, loyalty and retention.

Harrah's essentially linked databases of all its properties to provide real-time accessibility to customer-level data.