Jackpot!: Harrah's Winning Secrets for Customer Loyalty

Jackpot!: Harrah's Winning Secrets for Customer Loyalty

by Robert L. Shook
     
 

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Jackpot is the story of the birth and dramatic growth of Harrah's, America's premier gaming and entertainment company-and the flamboyant, idealistic entrepreneur who made it what it is. But it's more than just a simple story of business success. It's also an enlightening business tale of how an already successful company fought off aggressive (and often

Overview

Jackpot is the story of the birth and dramatic growth of Harrah's, America's premier gaming and entertainment company-and the flamboyant, idealistic entrepreneur who made it what it is. But it's more than just a simple story of business success. It's also an enlightening business tale of how an already successful company fought off aggressive (and often better-financed) competitors by focusing its resources on customer service and long-term customer loyalty.

When Bill Harrah took control of his father's hole-in-the-wall card game business in 1937, he couldn't have known how well his small investment would pay off. By taking calculated risks and employing unorthodox business practices, Harrah grew his modest card game business into an industry leader. His unique approach to business and fierce ideological commitment to running a fair and legitimate company made Harrah's a dominant and respected player from Las Vegas to Atlantic City.

Though it was sold after his death in 1978, the company that bears his name is still guided by Bill Harrah's independent spirit. Faced with cutthroat competition in the crowded gaming market, Harrah's visionary leadership took a different track. While its competitors spent billions to build theme hotels on the Las Vegas strip-replete with scale models of the Pyramids and the Eiffel Tower-Harrah's put its money into new Information Technology and customer service initiatives. By launching a marketing plan bent on rewarding customers with an unparalleled customer-service experience, Harrah's has shown the competition-and Harrah's customers-that it takes more than deep pockets to be an industry leader.

Based on its aggressive campaign to reinvent itself as the customer service leader in its industry, Harrah's provides an excellent model for any business that wants to focus its resources on bringing customers back. It's a valuable lesson any business leader can learn from-that bold marketing and world-class customer service is a winning combination.

Jackpot traces the story of Harrah's from its modest birth, through its ascension to the status of industry icon, to its daring modern reinvention of itself-and also tells the story of its visionary founder. Along the way, it offers new ideas and fresh inspiration for today's business leaders.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Tourists who visit many casinos are considered "promiscuous." How, then does a casino foster "customer monogamy"? Business book veteran Shook (coauthor, Longaberger) examines gaming behemoth Harrah's to find out. Based in "clean Reno" (as opposed to "dirty" Las Vegas), Bill Harrah began in the mid-1930s, combining a risk-friendly outlook with customer-service fanaticism. Indeed, Shook attributes Harrah's success primarily to its founders' ironclad adherence to the golden rule. Harrah insisted that his casinos ban "shills" (house players), instituted detailed employee background checks and installed the "eye-in-the-sky," all of which eventually became Nevada gaming law. Harrah's is a transitional organization, bridging shady Las Vegas with legitimate, family-oriented corporations. After the founder's death in 1978, pragmatic successors Mike Rose and Phil Satre shepherded Harrah's toward wider expansion by partnering with Holiday Inns, moving into new territories, imposing a corporate structure and using IT to back customer activity. Among the book's lessons: think long-term, understand your market and, most emphatically, watch that customer - he has much to teach you. Largely a story of horizons identified and conquered, there's virtually no conflict here. But Shook spins a well-researched, focused account that offers uniformly sound advice, although its applicability to other fields is open to questions. At times the book reads like a product of Harrah's own PR department, perhaps an unavoidable pitfall for a book about a company as worthy as emulation as this. (Dec. 20) (Publishers Weekly, November 11, 2002)

How does one casino differentiate itself from another? Harrah's does it by developing customer loyalty instead of theme casinos. Shook, a prolific business writer, has detailed the history and business strategy of the Harrah's casino organization, from its 1937 founding to the present. If the reader can ignore the exclamation points at the end of many sentences, this book provides a fascinating look inside the gambling industry. The author arranges the story in three sections: Part 1 covers the establishment of Harrah's first casino in Reno, Nevada and the running of the company until the death of its innovative founder, Bill Harrah. Harrah's took its first risk by establishing itself in Reno when all other casinos were in Las Vegas. Part 2 chronicles the sale of the company to Holiday Inn and its expansion into Atlantic City. Part 3 details the spinning off of Harrah's into a separate company again and its continued growth as more states legalized gambling. Throughout the book are extensive interviews with Harrah's employees from top management down to card dealers and wait staff. An index would have been useful, but this is otherwise an excellent purchase for business collections of all libraries. —Stacey Marien, American Univ., Washington, D.C (Library Journa, December 15, 2002)

Publishers Weekly
Tourists who visit many casinos are considered "promiscuous." How, then, does a casino foster "customer monogamy"? Business book veteran Shook (coauthor, Longaberger) examines gaming behemoth Harrah's to find out. Based in "clean" Reno (as opposed to "dirty" Las Vegas), Bill Harrah began in the mid-1930s, combining a risk-friendly outlook with customer-service fanaticism. Indeed, Shook attributes Harrah's success primarily to its founder's ironclad adherence to the golden rule. Harrah insisted that his casinos ban "shills" (house players), instituted detailed employee background checks and installed the "eye-in-the-sky," all of which eventually became Nevada gaming law. Harrah's is a transitional organization, bridging shady Las Vegas with legitimate, family-oriented corporations. After the founder's death in 1978, pragmatic successors Mike Rose and Phil Satre shepherded Harrah's toward wider expansion by partnering with Holiday Inns, moving into new territories, imposing a corporate structure and using IT to track customer activity. Among the book's lessons: think long-term, understand your market and, most emphatically, watch that customer-he has much to teach you. Largely a story of horizons identified and conquered, there's virtually no conflict here. But Shook spins a well-researched, focused account that offers uniformly sound advice, although its applicability to other fields is open to question. At times the book reads like a product of Harrah's own PR department, perhaps an unavoidable pitfall for a book about a company as worthy of emulation as this. (Dec. 20) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
How does one casino differentiate itself from another? Harrah's does it by developing customer loyalty instead of theme casinos. Shook, a prolific business writer, has detailed the history and business strategy of the Harrah's casino organization, from its 1937 founding to the present. If the reader can ignore the exclamation points at the end of many sentences, this book provides a fascinating look inside the gambling industry. The author arranges the story in three sections: Part 1 covers the establishment of Harrah's first casino in Reno, Nevada and the running of the company until the death of its innovative founder, Bill Harrah. Harrah's took its first risk by establishing itself in Reno when all other casinos were in Las Vegas. Part 2 chronicles the sale of the company to Holiday Inn and its expansion into Atlantic City. Part 3 details the spinning off of Harrah's into a separate company again and its continued growth as more states legalized gambling. Throughout the book are extensive interviews with Harrah's employees from top management down to card dealers and wait staff. An index would have been useful, but this is otherwise an excellent purchase for business collections of all libraries.-Stacey Marien, American Univ., Washington, DC Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780471263234
Publisher:
Wiley
Publication date:
12/23/2002
Pages:
360
Product dimensions:
6.14(w) x 9.21(h) x 0.81(d)

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

ROBERT L. SHOOK is a seasoned author, former salesman, and founder and former CEO of Shook Associates and American Executive Life Insurance Company. He is also the author of forty-five books, including The IBM Way, Honda: An American Success Story, and Turnaround: The New Ford Motor Company.

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