Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino
Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino has earned customer loyalty with its service and Total Rewards program.
By Alan Dorich, Senior Editor at Knighthouse Media
When guests visit Harrah’s Ak-Chin Casino in Maricopa, Ariz., they receive more than just a friendly smile and a hello. “That’s the starting point,” Regional President and General Manager Robert Livingston says.
“Our team members know our customers and know what’s important to them,” he continues, noting that this has earned the casino a healthy rate of repeat business. “That personalized level of service is what separates us from the pack.”
Harrah’s Ak-Chin originally opened in 1994 with a few hundred slot machines, poker, and a bingo hall. But the location is currently underway on an $180 million expansion that will update the casino floor and add more amenities.
“[We] completely renovated the casino so all the finishes of the entire building were brought up to a constant modern look and feel,” Livingston says, adding that the project includes the construction of a 18,000-square-foot multipurpose space. “The multipurpose space will allow us to do concerts with a capacity of 2,000 people, as well as host banquets and business meetings.”
The expansion includes a spa, a fitness room, a new poker room, and added casino space that accommodates over 1,100 slot machines. Harrah’s Ak-Chin will also expand its number of hotel rooms to 529 units.
The location has seen change on the restaurant side as well, with the opening of Oak & Fork, a wine bar and small plate restaurant, and Chop Block & Brew, a steakhouse that features a mesquite wood burning grill. Harrah’s Ak-Chin also expanded the seating in its Copper Cactus Grill and added an Italian station to The Buffet.
Although the expansion is not yet complete, it has won an enthusiastic response from guests. “It’s been well received across the board,” Livingston reports.
Catalyst for Growth
Livingston joined Harrah’s in 1991 as a senior corporate accountant. Over the years, he moved out of finance and accounting and into operations and eventually senior leadership roles. He went west in 2003 to become the assistant general manager at Harrah’s Resort Southern California, formerly, Harrah’s Rincon Casino and Resort.
He continues to oversee that property to this day, along with Harrah’s Ak-Chin. In addition, he serves as a consultant to Harrah’s Northern California which should open in Q2 of 2019. One of the keys to the company’s success, Livingston notes, has been in its Total Rewards program.
“That is by far, the key differentiator in our company,” he says, adding that the program’s goal is to reward customers for their loyalty.
The rewards include invitations to property events, giveaways, and other promotions. Some guests receive offers to visit other properties in the Caesars’ portfolio. Portability of the loyalty program is also key to the success of Total Rewards. If a Harrah’s customer earns a level of play at the Harrah’s Ak-Chin, he or she can use those credits at any other property in the Caesars Entertainment network.
“If I’m a Seven Star, Diamond, or Platinum customer, I can go, for example, to our Harrah’s Resort property in Atlantic City and I will be recognized and treated at that level,” Livingston explains, adding that this has great value to its customers. “That’s the power of the Total Rewards program.”
Being part of the Caesars Entertainment network also attracts guests from other parts of the country. “During spring baseball, we may have customers visit us from our Harrah’s Joliet property in Chicago,” he says.
“It’s bitter cold in March,” Livingston says. “They come out to visit Harrah’s Ak-Chin and take advantage of the Total Rewards program and see their favorite Cactus League baseball team.”
Livingston is not only proud of how the Harrah’s Ak-Chin employees treat customers, but also how they give back to the communities where they live and work. For example, through its HERO program, the team gives their time and money to local charities. “We have a volunteer participation rate of over 80 percent.”
They also help the environment through its CodeGreen program. The program among other things, focuses on reducing waste as well as water and energy consumption at the resort. This is all part of the culture at the Harrah’s Ak-Chin, which “ties into creating an environment for our guests,” he says.
He predicts more success for Harrah’s Ak-Chin, after it completes its expansion. “I think we’re going to appeal to a broader segment of customers,” he says. “I see growth and prosperity in the future.”