Last week, I spent a couple of days at the Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. Now, I’ve been to this hotel quite a bit, but on this visit, I had been invited to enjoy the life of a “high roller” Diamond card member of the Harrah’s Total Rewards program.
The “Diamond Life” starts at the airport, where a limo driver is waiting to pick you up and drop you off at the hotel. To check in, I was able to completely skip the long lines, and walk into the diamond registration lounge.
About the Total Rewards program
Total Rewards is the Harrah’s loyalty program for their casino properties. Any time you spend money on entertainment, slots or tables, you present your loyalty card, and computers behind the scenes calculate how much of your money you are handing over to the casino. The program starts with gold, and grows through platinum to diamond and Seven Stars. Obviously, the more you spend, the higher your status will be. The program currently has over half a million elite tier members.
Gratuitous photo of the 24 layer cake at Striphouse – because nothing says luxury like 24 layers of cake.
The perks of the Diamond Program are quite generous – access to a dedicated diamond lounge with complimentary food and beverages, room comps and upgrades, gift shop discounts, free exclusive tournaments, bonus tier points and priority check-in.
The best part of the Total Rewards program is that it works between all Harrahs’s properties. In Vegas, this means you’ll be recognized at Caesers Palace, Bally’s, Rio, Paris, Planet Hollywood, Imperial Palace, Harrah’s, Flamingo and Bills Gamblin hall.
Indeed – Harrah’s went on a very impressive spending spree in Las Vegas, and ended up owning a large portion of the strip. Outside Vegas, there are 24 other properties where the card will work.
To earn the Diamond tier, you need to generate 11,000 “tier credits” in a year. You earn 1 credit for every $5 spent on the slots, but earnings at tables depend on how long you play, your average bet and the type of game. At tables, one of the hosts will monitor your play, and award points for your gaming.
Living the Diamond Life
Every part of the Diamond perks package is designed to make your life a little easier when you are at the casino. With your card, you don’t wait in long lines for the restaurant, you don’t wait for a cab and in many cases, you don’t pay for food.
Now, the card is not a complete free for all, but if you earned it the hard way (by gambling), you will end up with a substantial amount of free credits, which can be spent at many of the on-property restaurants. Depending on your spending pattern, your casino host can add all kinds of freebies, including free rooms, free meals and other perks. But at the end of the day, it all comes down to how much you spend with them. During my stay, I visited several of the Planet Hollywood restaurants, and my card covered all the expenses.
Of all the basic perks, the queue skipping one is probably the most valuable. During the 100 degree weather, there were at least 50 people in line for a cab, but as soon as I showed my diamond card, a cab pulled up and I was whisked away. Did I feel bad about all those people in the heat? Sure, but if I had spent enough money at the casino to earn Diamond status, I would have felt that I earned that perk – just like I don’t mind pre-boarding at the airport or checking in at the Platinum desk at my favorite hotel chain.
Comparisons with the airline industry
It is obvious that a lot of the marketing behind the Total Rewards loyalty program borrowed inspiration from the airline industry. When you are loyal to one airline, they’ll reward you with a couple of free miles and a shiny card. Once you fly a lot, you’ll board first, find yourself in a premium class cabin, get free drinks in the lounge, and get other basic perks that make the experience more enjoyable.
In the casino it is the same – the whole idea is to keep you happy with the program you picked, and to make sure nothing happens that would make you consider switching to a different property. The more you spend, the more love you’ll get back.
Are the perks worth it?
This one is impossible to answer – I’m not an active gambler, unless you count spending a couple of hundred on the slots. But I did speak to several of my friends who are Diamond members at Harrah’s, and they were quite clear – the perks of being able to use their status at more than just a handful of properties makes being loyal to this chain a worthy investment.
Bottom line is simple – if the perks and treatment make you feel worthwhile, the investment is worth it. Just like at the airlines, as long as your usual airline treats you well, you won’t ever consider switching to a different carrier.
Disclaimer: Harrah’s Entertainment paid for this trip and provided four days of Diamond status for the story. The opinions are entirely my own.