Plays a strong hand developing profitable patron relationships

Published on 29-Dec-2011

Validated on 07 Oct 2013

"When you’re welcoming 40,000 people every day, developing strong customer relationships is crucial to persuading them to come back." - Mike Kutia, Director of Hospitality Systems, Foxwoods Resort and Casino


Media & Entertainment

Deployment country:
United States

Data Warehouse, Information Infrastructure


For Foxwoods, the extreme speed of the IBM Netezza data warehouse appliance coupled with SAS Campaign Management, enables Foxwoods to get to know its customers like never before. The insights gained from SAS and provided by the IBM Netezza data warehouse appliance enable staff to alert customers to special offers that they’ll care about and make them feel a part of the Foxwoods family.

Business need:
Expansion from casino to resort requires 360-degree view of customer across multiple business channels for effective marketing campaigns. Need to retain loyal customers in challenging business climate.

A purpose-built, high-performance data warehouse appliance that makes advanced analytics on very large data volumes simpler, faster and more accessible

Unique customer IDs track activity across multiple business channels; Live marketing campaigns can be assessed daily at granular levels for on-the-fly adjustments to maximize redemption; Sophisticated segmentation drives higher marketing ROI while reducing mailing costs

Case Study

In 1986, the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation opened Foxwoods’ original high-stakes bingo hall. Foxwoods started expanding in 1993 and created its Wampum card loyalty program to incent frequent players to return. Today, Foxwoods is much more than a casino, boasting retail stores, restaurants and bars, a golf course, spa, hotel and the MGM Grand Theater. The casinos offer more than 6,200 slot machines, 380 tables for 17 different types of table games (including 100 for poker), a high-tech race book, and the world’s largest bingo hall.

Since day one, Foxwoods has used gaming data to apply treatment strategies and customized promotions to its high-value gamers. For example, if one guest spent $1,000 on slot machines, Foxwoods might send him an offer for Bonus Slot Play in the future. But as the company has grown, so has its need to understand what customers are doing outside of the casino. Foxwoods’ ability to create a 360-degree view of the customer helps the resort precisely target promotions that customize each person’s experience based on their unique interests and purchasing patterns, driving repeat business and loyal customers.

“When you’re welcoming 40,000 people every day, developing strong customer relationships is crucial to persuading them to come back,” said Mike Kutia, director of Hospitality Systems at Foxwoods.

But until 2008, Foxwoods’ analytic infrastructure wasn’t equipped to analyze consumer information beyond the Dream card data from its casinos. The organization was facing increased demands from Finance, Marketing, executives and other business units to start capturing and analyzing non-gaming patron data and patron preferences in addition to the Dream card data that was already being gathered.

“Gaming has the profiles, but once customers step out of gaming, the profiles get a little lost,” said Kutia. “As a casino, there weren’t any limitations to using just gaming data, but as a resort you need to expand your knowledge of your patrons and link that together. The more data you have, the easier to stimulate guest behavior.”

Breaking down barriers
Three internal Foxwoods organizations – Information Services, Marketing, and Finance – decided to team up to deploy a new enterprise data warehouse (EDW) platform with five main objectives:

  • Improve understanding of patrons and their behavior (both gaming and non-gaming)
  • Facilitate more effective targeting and personalization of patron communications
  • Automate measurement and reporting of patron communication activities
  • Act as a platform for business information by, for example, building and maintaining customer profilesCreate a 360-degree view and total value of every customer
By achieving these objectives and gaining a deep understanding of its customers, Foxwoods would be able to stimulate desired patron behaviors, educate staff on patron preferences, and optimize direct marketing spend while promoting all areas of the resort. The end result: loyal customers who keep coming back and staying longer at Foxwoods Resort and Casino.

The Foxwoods team laid out a series of challenges that would need to be addressed in order to successfully implement a new analytic environment that would scale long-term. Those challenges included:
  • Creating a unique identifier for non-players. This would be essential in capturing a 360-degree view of the customer across all business units.
  • Being able to identify “faders” to prevent attrition. By identifying customers that are visiting and/or spending less, Foxwoods would be able to proactively reach out to them with highly targeted promotions, incenting them to come back.
  • More efficiently tracking promotional redemptions. This would allow Foxwoods to determine which promotions are most effective overall, and which promotions appeal to specific individuals.
  • Determining the right mix of patrons to target. For example, if retail store sales are down, Foxwoods could identify customers that historically enjoy shopping and send those individuals targeted offers.
  • Calculating the value of individual patrons across all businesses. Some customers might spend a nominal amount in several different venues within Foxwoods, so spend analysis specific to each venue (retail store, restaurant, casino) would not reward those customers for their loyalty. By calculating the value of individual patrons across all businesses, they can be rewarded appropriately based on comprehensive resort spend.
The team decided to deploy SAS – which Foxwoods had been using since 2003 with growing user adoption in its Finance and Marketing organizations – as its business intelligence (BI) platform for customer analytics, campaign management, and consulting support. After evaluating the top data warehousing vendors in the industry, Netezza, now an IBM company, was selected to replace Foxwoods’ existing data warehouse based on its simplicity, value and overall product performance. Netezza had a solid track record migrating large enterprises from legacy data warehouses, provided several customer references using SAS with the Netezza data warehouse appliance, and showed a strong commitment to integrate with SAS’ BI tools in Foxwoods’ environment.

Foxwoods also conducted a proof of concept (POC) with Netezza using a portion of the company’s actual data. The data warehouse appliance proved its value quickly, executing the POC in one week and demonstrating the speed of the appliance through both data loads and query response, with minimal database administration. The Netezza data warehouse appliance also offered the scalability to accommodate future growth, and its simple architectural approach would reduce total cost of ownership (TCO) and allow Foxwoods to deploy the new solution quickly.

Success unfolds
Foxwoods’ EDW project isn’t yet complete, but the company is already realizing benefits. For example, Foxwoods used to pay for customized vendor application reports, including slot analytics that could cost at least $100,000 each year. Now that all of the data is in the warehouse, those customized vendor reports aren’t necessary – Foxwoods has the capability to generate any report needed internally, with great speed and accuracy.

And barely any database administration is needed using the IBM Netezza data warehouse appliance. As Todd Williams, hospitality systems manager, Information Services at Foxwoods explained, “With the IBM Netezza data warehouse appliance, tweaking, tuning and indexing goes away. We add new tables and make updates to the system, but administration has really gone down to nothing. We have two DBAs on staff but the work spent on the IBM Netezza data warehouse appliance is minimal.”
According to Kutia, “The IBM Netezza data warehouse appliance’s extreme speed, coupled with SAS Campaign Management, enables Foxwoods to get to know our customers like never before. The insights gained from SAS and provided by our IBM Netezza data warehouse appliance let us alert customers of special offers that they’ll care about and make them feel a part of the Foxwoods family.”

Foxwoods uses the SAS/Access to IBM Netezza data warehouse appliance software to launch specialized scripts with SAS. As Foxwoods deployed the EDW platform, the team addressed each of the five challenges noted above:
  • To create a unique identifier for non-players, Foxwoods decided to install the DataFlux cleansing and matching application. This helps Foxwoods create unique IDs for each person and map those IDs to customer activities across all Foxwoods businesses.
  • To identify faders and prevent attrition, Foxwoods decided to change the way it approached customer metrics. Before, standard metrics were applied to all consumers, and marketing promotions were sent to all customers that met certain criteria. Now, Foxwoods uses customer-centric metrics that allow the company to send marketing promotions based on individual preferences and purchasing patterns. For example, if a patron recently attended a Jay Z concert, promotions to other upcoming hip hop events will be triggered to go to that individual.
  • To better track promotional redemptions, Foxwoods can now access daily analytical reports that provide feedback on promotional performance. In the previous environment, promotion results weren’t available until three weeks after the campaign was over, and additional personnel were needed to conduct post-campaign analysis. Now, Foxwoods can quickly and easily assess live promotions on a daily basis at granular levels of detail. This allows Foxwoods to tweak marketing campaigns mid-way through based on initial results for maximum return, and analysts have more time to spend on other projects. As Kutia stated, “If we can improve our marketing response rate by a fraction of a percent or cut costs by a fraction of a dollar, it results in significant ROI.”
  • To determine the right mix of patrons to target, Foxwoods now uses analytics to identify the individual characteristics and market segments that provide the highest and lowest response rates for marketing campaigns. Before, Foxwoods only segmented by rank of play and spend. Now, the resort segments its lists by age, geography, ethnicity, sex, and spend, allowing Foxwoods to streamline its messaging to specific groups and maximize the campaigns’ return on investment. Foxwoods is also saving money on mailings because distribution lists are more tightly managed and campaigns are focused. For example, if females under age 30 are proving unresponsive to a specific campaign, Foxwoods will remove them from future mailings within that campaign. “Using sophisticated segmentation analytics saves on marketing and mailing and allows for the next promotion to invite the correct markets,” said Kutia.
  • To calculate the value of individual patrons across all businesses, Foxwoods imports data from as many sources as possible into the EDW. Foxwoods started with gaming and slot data, to determine profitability of specific machines for casino floor layout optimization. Slot reports that took three days a month to manually process in the previous environment now take ten seconds. Next, the company integrated hotel data and is presently working on ticketing data from the MGM Grand Theater. This allows Foxwoods to determine whether customers play before or after their hotel stay; if findings reveal that a guest tends to play after her hotel stay, the resort will send her promotions to incent an earlier check-in. In the previous environment, the hotel system required customized reports to be built by IT all the time. Now, analysts from the hotel can directly access their own reports and customize them independently, freeing up the IT organization. Foxwoods today can track patron gaming activities and value through gaming data analysis, and it can see patrons’ activities across the resort from before they check in until the day after check-out. Foxwoods can identify correlations between gaming play and attending a show, and it can evaluate entertainer value using ticketing/show data. And Foxwoods can use slot data to see how the casino floor is affected before and after shows.

Endless possibilities
Next, Foxwoods will start capturing and migrating even more data into the analytic warehouse, including: slot technician schedules, dealer schedules, food and beverage sales data from the Micros systems, retail data, salon/spa data, and golf course data.
Now that Foxwoods has gotten a handle on its slot data, doors are opening for new analytic capabilities. For example, one future possibility would be to create heat floor mapping to optimize the slot machine locations on the gaming floor. Foxwoods is also examining predictive analytics and forecasting capabilities offered by SAS and IBM. Foxwoods realizes that as more data is added to the EDW, the organization is better equipped to understand and satisfy customers, which will ultimately drive repeat business and ongoing success.

“Our goal is to provide the customers with the things of their interest,” said Kutia. “They are getting promotions that are directed to them about the things they like to do. We don’t want you to come here for just one day and gamble. We’d like you to use our spas and golf, too. The more I can lengthen your stay, the more valuable you are.”

About Foxwoods and MGM Grand at Foxwoods
North America’s largest casino, Foxwoods Resort Casino® is located in the rolling hills of southeastern Connecticut and is easily accessible from Boston, New York, Hartford, and Providence. Owned by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, Foxwoods features six casinos with more than 7,200 slots, 380 table games, the only WPT World Poker Room™ in New England, High Stakes Bingo, and Ultimate Race Book. There are 1,416 guest rooms and suites in three hotels, more than 30 restaurants, a luxurious spa, more than 50,000 square feet of premium meeting and event space, 24 retail shops, and five entertainment venues, including the 1,400-seat Fox Theatre. Conveniently located adjacent to Foxwoods is Lake of Isles™, featuring two 18-hole championship golf courses designed by Rees Jones and a state-of-the-art Golf Academy. In May 2008, the MGM Grand at Foxwoods® debuted, adding 825 luxurious guest rooms, 115,000 square feet of meeting space, the 4,000-seat MGM Grand Theater, a 21,000-square-foot spa, and more dining, retail, and gaming facilities, bolstering Foxwoods’ preeminence as the East Coast’s ultimate casino resort destination. Foxwoods supports responsible gaming, and plays a leadership role in the Connecticut Council of Problem Gambling, of which it was a founding entity. For more information, call 1-800-FOXWOODS or visit

About IBM Netezza data warehouse appliances
IBM Netezza data warehouse appliances revolutionized data warehousing and advanced analytics by integrating database, server and storage into a single, easy-to-manage appliance that requires minimal set-up and ongoing administration while producing faster and more consistent analytic performance. The IBM Netezza data warehouse appliance family simplifies business analytics dramatically by consolidating all analytic activity in the appliance, right where the data resides, for industry-leading performance. Visit to see how our family of data warehouse appliances eliminates complexity at every step and helps you drive true business value for your organization. For the latest data warehouse and advanced analytics blogs, videos and more, please visit:

About IBM Data Warehousing and Analytics Solutions
IBM provides the broadest and most comprehensive portfolio of data warehousing, information management and business analytic software, hardware and solutions to help customers maximize the value of their information assets and discover new insights to make better and faster decisions and optimize their business outcomes.

For more information
To learn more about the IBM Data Warehousing and Analytics Solutions, please contact your IBM sales representative or IBM Business Partner or visit:

Products and services used

IBM products and services that were used in this case study.

IBM Netezza Performance Server

Legal Information

© Copyright IBM Corporation 2011 IBM Corporation Software Group Route 100 Somers, NY 10589 U.S.A. Produced in the United States of America December 2011 IBM, the IBM logo, and Netezza are trademarks or registered trademarks of International Business Machines Corporation in the United States, other countries, or both. If these and other IBM trademarked terms are marked on their first occurrence in this information with a trademark symbol (® or ™), these symbols indicate U.S. registered or common law trademarks owned by IBM at the time this information was published. Such trademarks may also be registered or common law trademarks in other countries. A current list of IBM trademarks is available on the Web at “Copyright and trademark information” at Other company, product and service names may be trademarks or service marks of others.