Hannah Dreier, The Associated Press, March 5, 2014
LAS VEGAS (AP) — There was a time when gamblers tried to keep their trips to Las Vegas a secret. Now, visitors want loyalty points from mainstream hotel chains for the days they spend holed up in Strip casinos.
Casino corporations MGM Resorts International and Caesars Entertainment Corp. have both announced loyalty program partnerships with major hotel chains (Hyatt and Starwood, respectively). The independent Strip casino the Cosmopolitan is also partnering with a hotel company, striking a deal with Marriott.
The deals enable customers to earn and redeem loyalty points with both the hotel and casino chains, and also hold out the promise of enabling visitors to experience Las Vegas like a high roller, if they have enough credits.
The partnerships give the hotel chains a presence in one of the country's biggest tourist destinations and help the casinos in their effort to market themselves as more than places to gamble.
MGM owns 12 properties on the Las Vegas Strip, including the MGM Grand and Bellagio. Caesars owns nine, including Planet Hollywood and the Flamingo.
MGM announced the partnership over the summer, followed by Caesars in December and the Cosmopolitan in January.
Caesars celebrated the announcement with a junket for national hotel reporters, including a stay at Caesars Palace, VIP seats at Britney Spears' Las Vegas show, and free spa service. Rewards programs participants can experience similarly luxurious moments, though it might take a while.
Jeff Zidell, senior vice president of Hyatt Gold Passport, said the partnership with MGM has allowed the hotel company to expand the benefits of joining its loyalty program, and it's proving a hit with customers.
"Over time, members had shared their desires for a wider selection of locations for earning and burning Hyatt Gold Passport points —with a particular interest in the Las Vegas Strip. MGM Resorts has nearly half of the hotel rooms on the Las Vegas Strip, and these 12 participating MGM Resorts destinations are iconic," he said in a statement to The Associated Press.
Casinos were hit hard by the recession and have been slower to bounce back than other businesses. Some in Las Vegas are hailing the new partnerships as a sign that the Strip no longer looks as dubious to major hotel chains.
A few Strip players remain un-partnered, including Wynn Las Vegas, which owns the high-end Wynn and Encore casinos.
Hannah Dreier can be reached at http://twitter.com/hannahdreier .