Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Hotel: A Winner with Total Customer Value

Property leverages revenue management software to strengthen marketing promotions, maintains leadership in Harrah’s portfolio

It is one thing to be the star performer in your hotel company’s portfolio. It is another to keep the title in today’s challenging environment. But the hotel at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino in North Carolina, which is posting overall occupancy of 100 percent with brand-leading gaming revenue per room night, is holding its own thanks to a heads-up business strategy and the revenue management system that supports it.

Even though the Harrah’s Cherokee gaming operation has been impacted by the national economic downturn, the hotel itself continues to perform on par with previous years. Much of the credit goes to a savvy executive team that is readily handling the challenges of a changing economy and to Rainmaker’s revolutionSM revenue management system used by all of Harrah’s properties and which the Cherokee Casino hotel implemented at its 2002 opening.

The 576-room property is fortunate that convention business is not its primary segment. Thanks to its primarily leisure guest mix, it has avoided the downturn affecting corporate travel although leisure travel is softer than normal.

‘During the months of February, March and April 2009, our admissions and day-trip traffic are improving, but people are playing below their average gaming revenue level,’ said Jeremiah Wiggins, director of planning and analysis for the Harrah’s Cherokee property. ‘It throws a curve ball at our revenue managers tasked with predicting total guest value and setting criteria for the rooms we have available, but we are still performing well.’

Accurate short-term forecasting is essential
The Rainmaker system forecasts hotel demand and then recommends the best room rate each night for guests based on their total customer value to help ensure that there is always availability for high-value guests. Tight integration with the hotel’s property management system ensures the most current data is used and makes the rate optimization process fast and efficient.

The system uses the previous year’s performance as a baseline and considers recent gaming revenue trends and input from Wiggins and his team. Wiggins acknowledges that a year ago he would have named revolution’s long-term (13 months out) demand forecasting capabilities as the system’s most important feature, but today it is the short-term forecasting capabilities that matter most.

‘We are sitting down now planning for the summer, when we rely more on retail, unrated guests, and passers-by,’ he said. ‘We do not have any reliable indicators whether those guests will be here or not, so the more our revenue management models can adjust to short-term trends, the better off we are.

Tightly focused marketing
Wiggins noted the Rainmaker solution is also valuable creating and tracking promotions that attract guests. ‘My team works with our marketing group to identify softer periods that will benefit from a promotion to stimulate demand. With the help of more accurate forecasting we can create promotions that are more strategic. Last year we were hunting with dynamite, and this year we are focused and able to identify the most likely guest segments that will respond to our promotions.’ Additionally, the North Carolina Travel Gaming Commission’s requirement that guests use a player card on 60% of the games at Harrah’s Cherokee, enables more accurate tracking of player value-information that can be entered into revolution as it creates optimized room rates based on total customer value.

‘We are completely committed to the revenue management process, and how it can benefit our entire property’ said Wiggins. ‘The RM staff monitors demand every hour 24×7 to make adjustments to room availability, promotions and pricing. That dedication is what takes revenue management to the next level and makes it more effective.’

About Harrah’s Cherokee Casino and Hotel
Harrah’s Cherokee Casino & Hotel is an enterprise of the Eastern Band of Cherokee, located 50
miles west of Asheville at the entrance to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Harrah’s
Cherokee Casino is open 24-hours-a-day to guests who are 21-years-of-age or older. For more
information about Harrah’s Cherokee or to follow its $633 million expansion, please call
1-800-HARRAHS or visit our website at www.harrahs.com.

About Harrah’s Entertainment, Inc.
Harrah’s Entertainment, Inc. is the world’s largest provider of branded casino entertainment. Since its beginning in Reno, Nevada, more than 70 years ago, Harrah’s has grown through development of new properties, expansions and acquisitions, and now operates casinos on four continents. The company’s properties operate primarily under the Harrah’s(R), Caesars(R) and Horseshoe(R) brand names, Harrah’s also owns the London Clubs International family of casinos and the World Series of Poker(R). Harrah’s Entertainment is focused on building loyalty and value with its customers through a unique combination of great service, excellent products, unsurpassed distribution, operational excellence and technology leadership.

About The Rainmaker Group
The Rainmaker Group, a Microsoft Certified Partner, is a software and consulting services company that provides profit optimization for more than one-half million units in the gaming hospitality, serviced apartment/multifamily housing and other industries. Rainmaker consults about, implements, and supports the revolution Product Suite, which maximizes total guest profitability for operators of casino hotels and other hospitality enterprises. The company enables clients to identify and maintain availability for their most profitable revenue sources through revenue management implementations. The Rainmaker Group helps casino hotels increase profitability through the accurate, instantaneous ability to determine the minimum acceptable value of each guest. This increases client profitability by securing the most profitable customers and developing more effective business processes. Hospitality clients include Wynn Las Vegas, Boyd Gaming, Harrah’s Entertainment, Omni Hotels, MGM MIRAGE, Trump Entertainment Resorts and other leading hotel companies.

The Rainmaker Group, also provides the revolution LRO (Lease Rent Options) profit optimization solution that enables serviced apartment/multifamily housing operators to maximize revenue from apartment lease/rentals. revolution LRO lease rate improvement results have been reviewed and validated by independent accounting firms. For more than five years, revolution LRO has delivered optimized leasing rates to the largest operators in the industry including Archstone, Equity Residential, Post Properties, Simpson Housing, Mid-America Apartment Communities and a number of other leading serviced apartments/multifamily housing companies.

The Rainmaker Group
Tammy Farley
5755 North Point Parkway
Suite 77
Alpharetta, GA 30022
Phone: 678-578-5777
Email: sales{at)letitrain.com

Media Contact – North America
Julie Keyser-Squires, APR
Softscribe Inc.