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November 27, 2014

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Loyal reward programs by Las Vegas hotels are important and here to stay

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CityCenter in Las Vegas.

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A Southwest Airlines flight approaches McCarran International Airport with the Luxor in the background.

Loyal husband Eric Wiebusch of Seattle became an overnight celebrity, earning big points with his wife after redeeming 1 million points that he earned from playing MyVegas to create a memorable 60th birthday for her at Bellagio.

Eric played the social slot game on Facebook and as the first to enjoy MyVegas’ top reward chose programming songs for Bellagio Fountains as a romantic and breathtaking backdrop. Their special evening with two guests also won them prime balcony seats at Prime to really get close to the fountains.

Eric explained: “The best way to celebrate a special birthday is with a special moment, and this MLife Moment could not have been more perfect. I was able to earn this one-of-a-kind experience with the MLife game, creating memories that will last the rest of lives.”

MyVegas is an extension of MGM Resorts International’ premier rewards program, free to play and the only casino game destination on Facebook where players can earn Las Vegas rewards from all MGM properties.

New Loyalty Rewards programs and new Hospitality Partnerships are becoming a necessary way of doing business and operate similarly to airline mileage, rental car and hotel points programs.

The Venetian and Palazzo have their Premio Incentives travel program. The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas picks up the tab for a fourth night when guests book three nights. Stays and dining adventures at all MGM Resorts properties earn Southwest Rapid Rewards points for future vacation packages.

I asked Tom Mikulich, senior vice president of business development at MGM Resorts, to bring us up-to-date with new marketing campaigns. He notes that the city has seen a big shift in casino revenue to nongaming spend, and that’s been a major driver of new incentive programs. He explained:

Despite challenges faced by the travel industry during the Great Recession (or any time of economic hardship), Las Vegas continues to thrive. In this resilient city, we not only accept change, we embrace and champion it, staying at the forefront of reinvention and excellence.

As a response to the evolution of travelers’ preferences, loyalty rewards programs have become even more important, providing additional incentives to visit Las Vegas, one of the world’s top tourist destinations.

MGM Resorts International boasts a collection of the city’s most iconic properties — including Bellagio, MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, Mirage and many more — which has been further enhanced by the addition of Aria, and the amenities within CityCenter, and regional developments across the country.

With our unique assets in mind, we sought a personalized approach to creating special experiences and value for our guests. The result was MLife, an umbrella brand and a one-of-a-kind loyalty program.

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Bellagio Fountains.

Since MGM Resorts’ most significant presence is on the Strip, and the average guest visits Las Vegas once or twice a year, we are developing partnerships throughout the world to provide relevance to MLife members all year long.

Through strategic marketing relationships with travel and hospitality giants such as Royal Caribbean International, Cirque du Soleil, SBE, Ameristar Casinos, Avis Budget Group and most recently Hyatt and Southwest Airlines, members are able to earn MLife Tier Credits, as well as perks with these companies beyond their visits to Las Vegas.

MLife’s partnerships span the industry, including multi-national and niche, regional hotel corporations, plane and car, cruises, entertainment and nightlife. To complement the brands that are part of MLife, we’ve carefully selected our partnerships and are confident the companies we’ve joined forces with share MGM Resorts’ commitment to excellence.

Additionally, the city has seen a tremendous shift in casino revenue to nongaming spend. MLife members are rewarded for virtually every dollar spent at 15 destinations across the U.S. In addition to benefits such as room upgrades, preferred seating at shows and priority dining reservations, members enjoy unparalleled access through the program’s signature MLife Moments.

MLife Moments grant bragging rights to the most discerning travelers, with exclusive, insider experiences such as choosing the songs for Bellagio Fountains, going backstage at one of Cirque du Soleil’s spectaculars and learning to cook in the style of a celebrity chef.

The overwhelming interest and support of our hospitality partners and the development of MLife into a dynamic rewards program will help encourage even more visits to Las Vegas because, among other reasons, members can gain access to cross those velvet ropes. Guests want access and to be wowed, and MLife accomplishes both — and so much more.

PERSONAL NOTE: There’s no doubt that incentive marketing is here to stay and grow bigger. However, I’m still baffled how a tourist destination with beautiful hotels such as Las Vegas still finds it necessary to reward its visitors with trips to other places. Some rewards include gaming trips on cruise ships. Shouldn’t we do more to keep our visitors here longer and coming back more often?

Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.

Follow Vegas DeLuxe on Twitter at Twitter.com/vegasdeluxe.

Follow Sun A&E Senior Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.

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