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NOTE: While this newsletter was originally designed exclusively for Seven Stars Club members, there is useful for anyone who has a Total Rewards® player’s card and/or plays/stays at a Harrah’s property. Please feel free to pass this on to your friends.]
Free Showboat Sunday Seven Stars Brunch
Probably the best kept secret in Atlantic City is the Seven Stars Sunday Brunch at the Showboat. From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the room adjacent to the main buffet at Showboat is home to a private – and complimentary – brunch for Seven Stars Club members and one guest. There is a private chef preparing foods to order and/or you can also partake from the regular Showboat buffet. Call ahead before showing up, though, since this may disappear as quickly as it appeared in June.
McCormick & Schmick’s Comps
Sometime in July, Harrah’s management in Atlantic City told McCormick and Schmick’s they no longer could accept comps on a 1:1 basis. Consequently, that $36 entrée now costs you $72 in comp dollars – assuming you don’t choose to pay cash rather than use Reward Credits. This arrangement is similar to Morton’s at Caesars and the restaurants at The Pier.
Harrah’s Cherokee Now Serves Alcohol
The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians has voted to allow the sale of alcohol at Harrah’s Cherokee Casino in Cherokee, N.C. The referendum passed, 1,847-1,301. Nearly 50 percent of the tribe’s 6,489 voters went to the polls. The tribe voted on the question after supporters got 25 percent of registered voters to sign a petition calling for a referendum. The referendum was the second time in 29 years the tribe has taken up alcohol sales. In addition, a similar referendum in 1980 failed by a 2-1 margin. A $633 million expansion, doubling the size of the casino’s floor space, is currently under construction.
Las Vegas Diamond Clubs – Again!
The most reaction I have received to any newsletter item recently was regarding my comments about the “quality” of the crowds in the Las Vegas Diamond Clubs. Descriptions like “bottom feeders” and “low lifes” were among the “kindest” (and printable!). Many, like me, advocated that Harrah’s increase the tier score for Diamond status and/or impose a per person comp charge for admission – Seven Stars Club members exempted, of course. The other comment/question was why the hours in Las Vegas are so short. Currently, clubs are open Sunday through Thursday from 4 to 9 p.m., and Fridays and Saturdays from noon to 9 p.m. The 9 p.m. closings on weekends were particularly annoying, especially to those players from Atlantic City who are used to later hours, i.e., midnight.
Credit Card? Check! ID? Check!
Registration clerks (who can’t express their irritation to guests) and others checking in (who can) wish that players would have the courtesy of having their Total Rewards card, a valid credit card and a valid ID ready to present when they check in. Even if the clerk knows you personally, and even if you think you have a credit card on file with the property, regulations require that employees verify these documents each time you stay. Please do everyone a favor and have these ready so you don’t waste everyone’s time fumbling through your personal belongings to dig them out. (And don’t be offended when someone asks for an ID at a restaurant or a shop when you are using Total Rewards points or charging something to your room; this is for your own protection.)
Question Of The Month
I’ve spoken to a couple people who earned less than 100,000 tier points last year, but still got Seven Stars Club status. Did Harrah’s reduce the number of points required? According to a highly placed corporate executive, who wishes to remain anonymous, the 100,000-point threshold still exists, but some long-time Seven Stars Club members were granted an exception this year “due to the economy.” “This was done on a casino-by-casino basis and very few exceptions were granted,” my source told me. “This will be a one-time-only exception,” my source said, “and the players will need to requalify in 2009 for status in 2010.
All Aboard. . .First!
Another benefit of Seven Stars is priority boarding on the Harrah’s shuttles operating among their casinos in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. Since the shuttles often can become crowded quickly, don’t forget to take advantage of this.
Atlantic City Taxes
While room and tourism taxes often are “forgiven,” Harrah’s sometimes takes your comp dollars to pay this $13 nightly fee. It’s always a good idea to find out in advance how the tax portion of your final bill is being settled. I’m still trying to find out why Harrah’s charges $13, yet Borgata and Trump charge $5.98 and $5, respectively, per night.
Total Rewards Points Accepted At Atlantic City Country Club
For a change of pace from casino dining, don’t forget you can use your comp dollars – on a 1:1 basis – at the Atlantic City Country Club (ACCC). The Tap Room Bar & Grille serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as an elaborate Sunday brunch. All you need is your player’s card and a valid ID. The club is located about 20 minutes from the Boardwalk. Check out their Web site at: http://www.harrahs.com/golf/atlantic-city-country-club/dining.html. Since its founding in 1897, ACCC has been at the forefront of the sport, both nationally and internationally. The prestigious and historic ACCC proudly carries the distinctions of “The Birthplace of the Birdie,” as well as being the site where the term “Eagle” was coined. Many legendary names have played the course, including Sam Snead and Howard Everitt. Bob Hope was an ACCC “regular,” first becoming acquainted with the club when he worked on the vaudeville circuit.
While it doesn’t happen often, mistakes do occur when it comes to your comp dollars. Before any trip to a Harrah’s casino I always check the Web site and write down my current tier score and comp dollars. I also keep all my receipts to know how my comp dollars have been used. After I get home, I again check the site, write down my then current points and calculate how much I’ve earned, plus what I’ve spent. If nothing else, it gives you a sense of how much you played and earned.
Do You Do Anything To Recognize Your Host and His/Her Services?
According to our May/June informal survey, most players who actively use the services of a host give an end-of-year gift valued at approximately $150 (average). This recognition may take the form of a gift card, a gift basket or some other gift which the player knows his/her host might appreciate. In addition or in lieu of a holiday gift, some players send flowers or give a gift to their hosts on their birthdays – assuming they can find out the date. (It might take a little effort, but usually a colleague in VIP Services can get this information for you.) Only a couple players admitted they didn’t see the need to give a gift since they felt their hosts already were “profiting” from their play.
What Incentives Will Get You To Play More Frequently?
If you live on the East Coast, as I do, a $75 Pottery Barn gift card is not enough incentive to get me on a plane to Las Vegas. Two tickets to a Bette Midler show, maybe. Recently, though, Harrah’s has been sending some pretty piddling offers valued at around $100 (gift cards, cash, designer T-shirts, etc.). Its competitors, on the other hand, are sending offers valued at three, four or five times that amount. (All of these offers are over and above the standard complimentary rooms.) Assuming you had the time and other necessary resources, what sorts of incentives would get you to make an extra long-distance – or even short-distance – trip? And, if applicable, in your opinion, how do Harrah’s offers compare with its competitors’? Drop me an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and I’ll share your thoughts – anonymously – with everyone in a future newsletter.
I Can’t Be The Only One This Is Happening To!
Caesars Atlantic City – On a recent Monday night in July, the second floor casino seemed to be running on auto-pilot. Two kids were stealing coins out of the fountain, and there was not a security guard in sight. Shortly after I spotted the little thieves, my machine jammed as I was cashing out. After 20 minutes, I started hitting the “Service” lights on 50+ machines surrounding mine. Still no response. Finally, I asked a friend to watch my machine, and I went searching for a Harrah’s employee. I literally walked half the upstairs casino, and no one! Ultimately, I saw a gentleman in a suit who had a Caesars’ nametag. He called a slot attendant, but when all was said and done, it took an hour to collect my $300. (See below for more on this.)
Harrah’s Resort Atlantic City – On a recent Saturday night in August, the casino – just like Caesars – seemed to be running on auto-pilot. Twice I asked a [homeless?] person – who was sound asleep at a slot machine I wanted to play – to please move. She moved, but continued her reverie at another machine. Once again, no security guards or other Harrah’s employees – other than cocktail servers who were too busy to even stop. Finally, I went to the front desk and one of the managers helped me find a guard. He talked to the woman, but made no attempt to escort her out of the casino, or ensure that she moved. Consequently, once again she fell asleep. Another guest wanted to play the machine where she slumbered, but told me he was “afraid” to disturb her.
Waterfront Tower – Going The Way Of Showboat’s New Orleans Tower?
It had been awhile since I stayed in the “new” Harrah’s Waterfront Tower in Atlantic City. How disappointing it was to find large chunks of my dresser missing, seriously scratched end tables on either side of the bed, a make-up mirror dangling from the wall in the bathroom, pillowcases inside out, no bath mat, and a missing ice bucket. And while a call to Housekeeping promised me a replacement bucket, none showed up; however, an accommodating housekeeper gave me one from a vacant room – so now that guest will find his bucket missing. Even a little touch-up paint or stain would help the unsightly appearance of the damaged dresser and end tables – at least until they can be repaired properly. And the reason I compare this situation to Showboat is the horrible condition of the New Orleans Tower. Ironically, I was in the same room in July as I was a little more than a year ago. The furniture was so scratched and damaged, it literally had less stained wood than bare wood (or, probably, more accurately, particle board). Plus, there were only four hangers in the closet and the shelves in the bathroom looked like they hadn’t been dusted in months.
Which Brings Me To Employee Morale. . .
Maybe it’s because I come across as a concerned guest (which I am) who is supportive of Harrah’s (which I am) and concerned about what I see happening (which I am), but in the last 45 days, more employees than I can count – bartenders, slot attendants, slot managers, security guards, front desk employees, etc. – have confided in me how overworked they are due to understaffing. And more than a few feel the cutbacks are a direct result of huge salary and benefit packages going to Harrah’s senior management. [Perception is reality for some people, a wise man once told me.] Compare this to Trump’s employees who proudly wear promotional “campaign-style” buttons touting their commitment to customer service – unlike that ill-conceived and insensitive DIANA campaign that went on far too long at Showboat. Trump’s employees are upbeat, almost anticipate guests’ needs, and seem proud to be working for “The Donald.”
Darryl D. McEwen, Publisher
Seven Stars Insider