Aristocrat was founded in Sydney, Australia, in the 1950s as a gaming provider. Expansion followed in the next two decades, bringing the first five-reel slot machine to Europe and the U.S. By 1979, the all-electronic game, Wild West, arrived on the gaming scene. Fast-forward to the 1980s, and machine leasing leads to significant growth for the company.
In the 2000s, Aristocrat began to operate in Nevada and continued to grow. Within the first two decades of the 21st century, Aristocrat built a global mobile business, and the worldwide gaming brand was relaunched as Aristocrat Gaming.
Mark Johnson, CEO of Loyalty360, spoke with Vanessa Lisnard, Program Manager of Commercial Strategy at Aristocrat Gaming, about the Reel Returns B2B loyalty program, tailoring communication to match customers’ jurisdictions, and a post-COVID shift in customer spending.
Read the full interview on Loyalty360 here: https://loyalty360.org/content-gallery/in-depth-exclusives/a-game-winning-approach-a-q-a-with-aristocrat-on-building-b2b-customer-loyalty
Good afternoon, good morning, mark Johnson from Loyalty 360. I hope everyone's happy, safe and well. I want to welcome you back to another edition of our Leaders in Customer Loyalty series. In this series we speak with leading brands about what they are seeing and hearing on the front lines of Customer Channel and brand loyalty. Today we have the pleasure of speaking with Vanessa Liznar. She is the Program Manager of Commercial Strategy at Aristocrat Technologies. Vanessa, thank you very much for taking the time today. How are you?Speaker 2:
I'm good. I'm good, how are you?Speaker 1:
First off, we'd like to start these on a more personal note. I would love to know a little bit more about you what you do at Aristocrat, maybe what you did before, and also a fun fact about yourself, maybe a passion that you have outside of work.Speaker 2:
Absolutely so. I'm Vanessa Liznar. I work for Aristocrat Gaming specifically. What we do here is we are very focused and we are a provider for all gaming and slot machines everything that you see out on the casino floor. We are a manufacturer of that, and we also provide a plethora of game titles for our customers. And then what I do is I center around our B2B loyalty program called Real Returns. I always like to preface that we are the first and only gaming company of its kind to produce a loyalty program. As so and a fun fact about myself, if you travel to Las Vegas and you're in terminal three coming through McCarran Airport, I have artwork that is up. I won a prize back in high school and it is the ugliest artwork that you'll ever see, but my name is on there, so take a picture, send it to me. I'd love to see it.Speaker 1:
For those who may not be familiar, can you provide a short history of Aristocrat, what you guys do, how you do it, who you do it with?Speaker 2:
Yeah, so Aristocrat started, I believe, back in the 50s as a gaming provider and since then it has completely expanded. It's now a global company and we are based in Australia, but where I'm focused on is 100% here in North America. So we oversee the jurisdictions of North America Canada, latin and India but right now Real Returns is only focused in Canada and USA.Speaker 1:
B2C customer loyalty programs are more of a focus in the industry, a lot more B2C type programs, b2b programs. A strong B2B customer loyalty program is something that's great to see. Obviously, you have an award-winning platform. Can you give us a brief overview of your B2B loyalty program, maybe even highlight some of the unique challenges you face as well as many opportunities you see for your program?Speaker 2:
Absolutely so. If you know anything about the gaming industry, you'll know that it is very complex, and so every when you're thinking of just the United States in general, every state operates within its own jurisdiction, and so what you see is that in our loyalty program, it's not a one-size-fits-all, it's very customized to our customer and it's very data, heavily database right, and so, for example, if we are doing a loyalty program for our customers in Las Vegas, they're going to get the same thing and they're going to crew points the same way that somebody in a brass is going to be doing so. But because there's never been anything like this and because there is such a high spend within our customer base, and we felt the need to introduce a loyalty program for our customers to really hone in on the fact that we are not just a gaming manufacturer, but we do want their business, we do want their loyalty to us, because it's just more than providing items. It's about providing experiences as well, and so Rule Returns really highlights that.Speaker 1:
And how does customer data influence your program initiatives? Now, what type of research is necessary to build out a successful rewards program?Speaker 2:
Absolutely, and so right now, rule Returns is still a little toddler, right, it's only about two years old. But in its infancy, right when the team just decided to create a loyalty program, they spent months, nearly a year, trying to figure out and go through and sift through all of our customer data. And, as I had mentioned before, our loyalty program is very heavily based on our customer data, and so everything that we do within the program is based on the information that we receive from our customers. So, for example, the way that we measure our success is how much of Aristocrat games that a customer will have on their floor, and so we rely on that data from our customers to say you know, if you're looking at 100 slot machine game floor, 50 of those slot machines are Aristocrat, 50 of those other machines are another customers. We like to see that information so that way we can provide better recommendations and gameplay for, you know, optimal B2C user experience.Speaker 1:
One of the topics we hear a great deal about, when we actually have a meeting every two months around, is personalization. How do you get right what kind of data? How do you leverage technology? You know, how do you, as a brand, look at personalization?Speaker 2:
Absolutely, and so I am going to hone this in and put the nail on the coffin Our customer base is very diverse, and so it's so important for us to treat every customer as its own individual, and I think that's a little different from B2C versus B2B. It's because you know you have active customers that need your product, that want your product, and so it's so important for us, within the loyalty program, to tailor every communications as it pertains to our customer, because one jurisdiction is going to be 100% different from the state next door, right, and so we need to be able to modify, making sure that we're we're targeted in our approach to fit the need of that specific customer. Let me just give you an example. When you're thinking of the Las Vegas trip, which is what you think of when you're looking at slot machines, you see big, big buildings, but what you don't necessarily think about is that we also have slot machines in gas stations. You'll see gas stations just on your road trip to California from Las Vegas. That's a very different customer versus the big houses that you see on the strip, and so that requires its own personalization as well.Speaker 1:
What metrics are you seeing regarding personalizations, ability to drive the incrementality in the purchases, and engagement and spend?Speaker 2:
Oh, I love that question and I think it ties back into my example of floor share. So when you're looking at a customer's floor, if they have 100 games, 50% of it's a register crowd, 50% of it could be another competitor. We use that information and not just so we can see a customer's loyalty to us, but we also measure how well a game is performing. We measure all of their games and so, for example, if we see that a competitor's game is not performing as high as it could be with an aristocrat product, we make the recommendation to our customers via our sales team. So our sales team is heavily involved within real returns and all of our programs within aristocrat to make that kind of recommendation, because it's not that we want aristocrat products on their floor, we want high performing games on their floor.Speaker 1:
What's the next big thing for customer loyalty, customer experience, for you and your brand?Speaker 2:
Yeah. So it all ties back into personalization, and one thing that we see is that businesses are changing right and they do want more tailored approaches to how we measure their success on a loyalty program, and so we are launching a new tier structure which actually takes into account more of a personalized view on customer spend. So that's going to be really exciting. I can't say much about it just yet because we haven't really beefed up the details, but it'll come soon.Speaker 1:
There's a great deal of discussion regarding customers and how they have changed. How they changed going into COVID, how they changed coming out of COVID. How have your customers evolved and how are they potentially changing as a whole, and how are you adapting?Speaker 2:
Absolutely, and so we see a very different shift. Post COVID. We see that our customers are a lot more targeted and strategic in how they purchase products, and not just aristocrat products, but I think this goes to say for every single outlet out there, right? So customers are definitely spending a lot more. Post COVID, there was a huge rush and now we're starting to see it level out, and so our business is always constantly adjusting to account for that.Speaker 1:
Are there other customer loyalty programs that you are loyal to, that you admire? From a customer loyalty perspective, what do you like about their offerings?Speaker 2:
So for me personally, as I'm attached to a B2B program, I like to look at what our casinos doing. So, for example, I like to model a lot of our strategies based on success from Cesar's loyalty program or MGM's loyalty program, because it's a very similar customer base, while theirs is a lot more B2C. There are some foundational aspects that we can take and learn from, and so those would be some of my favorite companies to look out for.Speaker 1:
And the last question I have for you, Vanessa, is what can loyalty 360 do to help you and your team in your customer loyalty journey?Speaker 2:
So joining loyalty 360 and having been able to go to a few conferences so far has really exposed our brand to what the industry standard looks like for loyalty. It is nice to see that there is still a need for customer loyalty and how it consistently evolves year to year, and I think that if we, by being part of loyalty 360 and going to the conferences and being an active member, really helps us refine our approach, Vanessa, thank you very much for taking the time to talk with us today.Speaker 1:
It's great getting to know you a little bit, also getting to know more about their Risto Krat loyalty program. Looking forward to hearing more from you and your team in 2023.Speaker 2:
Of course, thank you.Speaker 1:
Also, I want to thank everyone else for listening. Make sure you join us back for another edition of our Leutreson Customer Loyalty series soon. Have a wonderful day.