More and more casino players are falling in love with Celebrity Cruise Line. Let’s take a look at Celebrity’s Blue Chip Club. This casino rewards program allows players to receive additional benefits for their loyalty on top of the comp offers they already are receiving through URComped. Craig Shacklett, URComped CEO, interviews Patrick Jacjquot, head of Celebrity Blue Chip Club, to learn more! Listen to podcast version.
Topics discussed include:
- How Patrick got started with Celebrity and the casino gaming industry
- Earning points on Celebrity Cruise Line
- Tier points
- Redeemable points
- Loyalty period
- Tier benefits
- Can Always Included be added to a casino booking
- Move up
- How do players check their points
- Loyalty program enhancements
Full transcript below
(0:00- 0:28) Craig Shacklett: Hi everybody, Craig Shacklett here from URComped. I’ve got a very, very special guest. By popular demand, Patrick Jacquot. I think I said that right, my French accent. I’ve been working on it. Head of the Celebrity Blue Chip Club Loyalty Program. Patrick, thank you so much for being here.
(0:28-0:38) Patrick Jacquot: Hey Craig, that’s my pleasure. And actually, you pronounce the name absolutely perfectly, correct. So I’m super happy to be with you guys. And fire away, Craig.
(0:38-0:51) Craig Shacklett: All right. Well, before we get in it… Because we got a lot of questions that came from URComped Family and our Facebook Group. Why won’t we start with a little background on you? How long you’ve been with Celebrity? And yeah, just give us the kind of run down.
(0:51-1:22) Patrick Jacquot: Absolutely. I’ll give you the 411 on this. I’m with the celebrity for the past four years I’ve been in the gaming industry for the past twenty-some-odd years. That’s why I got a lot of gray hair. But yeah, land-based Casino for twenty-plus years. Pretty much International from Canada to US, to Europe. And this has been my gig for… That’s all I know what to do. So, yup. So this is the story.
(1:22-1:27) Craig Shacklett: And what was it like making the jump from a Land-Based Casino to Cruise Line?
(1:27– 1:52) Patrick Jacquot: Unaware of what the Cruise Line was. My boss, Mr. Evan Lucash. Came and grabbed me. And I moved on. So I thought I knew everything in gaming after 20 years, but land-based… I’d see totally different. So I’m learning a lot. It’s easy transition.
(1:52– 2:24) Craig Shacklett: Nice. You have done such an amazing job with the program. URComped and our partnership with Celebrity has just grown exponentially over the last couple of years. As that’s grown so has an interest in learning more about your program. So I again, I really appreciate you carving out some time to talk to me. And share some information with the URComped Family. So why don’t we start with the basics? How do celebrity tier points work? How do you earn points on a Celebrity Cruise Ship?
(2:24- 3:10) Patrick Jacquot: That’s a great question, Craig. So like… How do you earn a point? So every time that you use your SeaPass on board. And you put a dollar in. You’re actually earning points. So basically earn a tier point. So we have two types of point. Tier Points and Redeemable Points. Which I’m pretty sure that’s going to be a topic that’s going to be covered a little bit later on. But for tier points, if you cycle $1 on slot, you’ll earn one tier point. $2 on video poker, you’ll earn one tier point. And if you cycle 1 theoretical dollar on tables, you will earn eight-tier points.
(3:10-3:17) Craig Shacklett: Got it. Okay. And that is a tier point, which is separate from a redeemable point.
(3:17-3:41) Patrick Jacquot: Correct. So if we are going with redeemable points, sorry for my accent. Essentially for slots, you will earn… For every $5 that you cycle through, you will earn one point. For every $10 that you cycle through in video poker, you will also earn one point.
(3:41-3:59) Craig Shacklett: So you earn tier points which over the course of a year. You then can move up the celebrity tier program. And we’ll get to that in a second. And then the redeemable points are separate bucket, which you can apply towards what?
(3:59– 4:11) Patrick Jacquot: So the redeemable points, you could apply it for free play only. So you are able to redeem those points for free play credits.
(4:11-4:23) Craig Shacklett: And does that redeemable bucket, does it carry over from cruise to cruise? Or is that something where you would redeem it before you leave the cruise that you’re playing on?
(4:23-4:33) Patrick Jacquot: That’s a great question, Craig. You need to redeem them on the cruise that you… On the voyage. Because they will not carry over.
(4:33– 4:45) Craig Shacklett: Okay, that is great to know. Thank you for highlighting that. So tier points carryover over the course of a year. And then what is the earning period for tier points?
(4:45– 5:22) Patrick Jacquot: Correct. So tier point… Actually, we have the longest loyalty period at sea for any brand. So our loyalty periods, 18 months. Most loyalty… Even if you take a look at the land-based casino, it’s usually a year. All our competition is 1 year, but celebrity… Because we know it takes a little bit more to get out the house and get on a ship, and all that. You probably not going to do this every weekend. So we extended it actually to 18 months. So our guests are able to actually make it easier for them to earn their tier points.
(5:22– 5:43) Craig Shacklett: Wonderful. Okay. So, redeemable points we went over the earning criteria for that. Tier points, we went over the earning criteria for that, redeemable points are to be used on the cruise that you earn them on. So, before you leave, how do players go about cashing out their redeemable points in free play?
(5:43-6:04) Patrick Jacquot: Absolutely. So you could actually redeem your points at the speed media. As probably all your guests know. The speed media is a little screen that’s on the slots. So they could tap the card. And they could redeem their point straight from the machine. Or they could go to the cash desk. And ask to redeem their points.
(6:04– 6:17) Craig Shacklett: Perfect. Okay, so that’s great. And then, let’s talk about the tier benefits. So maybe start… How many tiers are there?
(6:17– 7:14) Patrick Jacquot: You have tons of great questions. So, 6 tiers for the Blue Chip Club. We added a tier last year. Based on the customer feedback that we receive. So I’m often on the ship. And conduct different dinners and things like that. And from what the players, they’re telling us it was very difficult to achieve the top tier level. So, we added a tier level. But to answer your question, first-tier… As soon as you cycle $1, you are Pearl tier level. At 2,500 points, you earn the Onyx tier level. Amethyst at 25,000 points. Sapphire at a 100,000 points. Sapphire Plus at 500,000 points. And lastly, the top tier is Ruby.
(7:14– 7:34) Craig Shacklett: Got it. Okay. And we will have a graphic that we will show with this. That’s super helpful. And then maybe let’s go through… What are some of the… We have the different tiers, some of the highlights… First question that we got from the Facebook group was, are there any tiers that include free cruises?
(7:34– 9:38) Patrick Jacquot: Okay. Great question, again. So, all tiers actually receive free cruises. And it all depends on your rated play on board. So we had annual cruises. We still have them. But base of some change that we made in the past two years. We are able to actually offer free cruises. Pretty much every week, every month towards the year. But I think what you probably referring to is Tier Level Sailings. So that we offer tier-level sailings every quarter. Once you reach Amethyst, Sapphire, Sapphire Plus, and Ruby. You are receiving exclusive sailing for those different tiers. And we even have twice a year Onyx tier sailing. So those are specifically for those tier level. And it’s very, very exciting. Because most of the time, we invite one of our partners on board. Whether it’s a liquor company or different partners… Those events are actually carved only for those guests that are coming on board for that tier event. But to highlight a couple of things. So we are the only brand at sea that offer guaranteed free play each and every time that you sail with us. So if within a month you sail four times with us, then you have achieved Amethyst, Sapphire, Sapphire Plus, and Ruby. You will get your guaranteed free play. So, from Amethyst, it’s $100 every time you sail with us. For Sapphire, it’s $500. Sapphire Plus, $1,000. And for Ruby, $2,500 in guaranteed free play.
(9:38– 10:01) Craig Shacklett: Wow. That is quite a perk. Now remind us again, how many tier points redeemable points… Again, we covered that earlier. Do not carry over to your points. Tier point are what matters when it comes to earning these different statuses. Amethyst is where the free play, every trip is guaranteed. How many tier points over the course of 18 months do they need?
(10:01– 10:08) Patrick Jacquot: That’s into cycle. Only 25,000 points in 18 months to reach that Amethyst level.
(10:08-10:14) Craig Shacklett: 25,000 points. Got it. And that was $1 per point on slots?
(10:14– 10:15) Patrick Jacquot: Correct.
(10:15– 11:06) Craig Shacklett: That is achievable. I know a lot of people in URComped family have fallen in love with Celebrity. Especially since you were the first brand to really launch in the States. And a lot of people were introduced to Celebrity. At least from URComped. I guess, late May? Was it late May or was it late June? Well, these last two years time is just blurred. I have no concept of time anymore. But I know you guys were first in the water. And everyone we sent loved it. So, I bet we’ve got quite a few members that are well on their way to earning Amethyst, Amethyst Plus, and the rest. Okay, let’s move on to upgrade questions. Can Casino Comp Cruisers, people had booked through URComped on a comped cruise. Are they able to participate in move-up?
(11:06-11:44) Patrick Jacquot: That’s another great question. It is something that the entire team is actually working actively into the move-up program. So right at this moment, it is not available. But I suggest that any of your members are once they called in. Simple talk with our folks, the call center or you. Depending on how it is booked. We are able to move up one of your members. But this time, it’s not possible. It’s not possible, but we are definitely working on that to make it possible for all our casino guests.
(11:44– 12:01) Craig Shacklett: All right. Can Sapphire… Some of these questions may be pretty specific. They’re coming from the URComped members. Can Sapphire Players use their free classic beverage package reward to upgrade to a premium package if they have always included?
(12:01– 12:31) Patrick Jacquot: That’s a great question. But unfortunately, no. Because it comes from two different areas. So no, they are not able to use the benefit to add the upgrade from the classic to the premium package. But I got great news that’s coming. But I will reserve that update at the end of our call. I think everyone will be very happy with that news.
(12:31– 12:55) Craig Shacklett: Whoo. All right, I’m excited. All right. Calls over. Let’s get it. No, I’m just kidding. We have more questions, “Always Included.” I know that’s been a perk that a lot of casino players have enjoyed. Maybe you can talk about it. Do all Celebrity casino reservations have it? Some do, some don’t. What do players have to do to get it? Maybe we can just talk about always included.
(12:55– 14:27) Patrick Jacquot: Yeah. So Always Included was actually… The brand introduced new marketing. From the actual brand itself, always included, elevate package, and indulge package. You come on board. Everything is available for you. From the internet, from the beverage package tips. And the other packages like elevate. And indulge include the onboard credit. But to answer your question, some of the casino offers do include it and some don’t. So that’s why it’s very, very, very important to ask the question to the call center. Sometimes it all depends the offers that we receive from revenue management. I’m not going to go in details on that because that’s pretty, pretty boring finance and revenue stuff. So I’m not going to go through it. But depending on the promotional shells that we received. And we are able to include always included or not. So it really all depends. I’m sorry. I don’t have a direct answer to this. But yes, it all depends. Need to ask the question. And we have the option ones, I guess. I received this offer X, but I would like to have the always included. So there’s a possibility of changing that shells at the small cost. But it is available. If there’s specific offer does not contain the always included.
(14:27– 14:32) Craig Shacklett: All right. Thank you. So, it depends, right?
(14:32– 14:59) Patrick Jacquot: It depends. I hate to answer this way, but it is available. Absolutely 110%, but ask the call center or use the team at URComped to see if it would be available. Sometimes, it’s already… Sometimes its included in it. Sometimes it’s not. You just need to ask the question. And we can make it available sometimes with a fee. Sometimes with not.
(14:59– 15:27) Craig Shacklett: Got it. All right. This is hard-hitting journalism right here. We’re not just asking softball questions… Yes, I’m bruised. Okay, so we talked earlier about tier credits. Is there a way that people can check? Let’s say they’re in between cruises. They can’t remember what their tier status is. How many points they earned? Are there any ways… Or how would you recommend they find out what their tier status is?
(15:27– 16:31) Patrick Jacquot: Yeah, sure that’s a great, great, great question. So at the moment, we’re working on the platform. Just like Royal has. Our big sister. Working a platform where guests will be able to log in and check the status. It’s in the work, but at the present time it’s not available. So what we did is that… We actually made it available from the call center. I know this time is very difficult to reach a call center for obvious reason… Call center will be able to give the tier status. Also on board, you are able to see your tier status. But all the information is not there in terms of your points. But onboard, they’ll be able to give you your tier status, very easy. Call center as well. And what’s coming is an online platform where the guests will be able to check the points and tier status.
(16:31– 17:06) Craig Shacklett: Perfect. Okay, I’ll ask… I think we got one more question. Then we’ll get to the big reveal. The news you’ve been… The good news has been holding back for us. Question about table players. It sounds like, this is obviously… I would guess this came from the table player. Sounds like in the slot machine. Those points that are earned or pretty much updated in real-time table players. Maybe they finished playing a blackjack session. They walk to a slot machine to check their points and may not show up. So maybe, talk about how table players can check what their points are when they’re on board?
(17:06-17:59) Patrick Jacquot: Perfect. Well, without getting into a much technical aspect of our CRM system. It’s two different system. One that’s called, Oasis that runs on a slot system. And another one called, Bravo that runs on a table system. As you know sometimes the technology like both of them doesn’t talk to each other. But the great news is that the team is a casino ops Team is working on a bridge. That would get those two system talking to each other. And in the near future table will be able to see the points at the slot machine. And the speed media. Which is the little screen there. But at the time, correct. It’s not available on the speed media. But they are able to talk to the pit. Supervisor that’s in there or go straight to the cage. And they’ll let them know how many points they earned.
(17:59– 18:25) Craig Shacklett: Perfect. Well, thank you, Patrick. I think that covers pretty much all the questions we’ve received from URComped family. The URComped team. And I really appreciate your candidness and not ducking any questions. You answered everything with candor and honesty. I appreciate that. Now I know you teased a little bit of good news that everyone be excited about. So, let’s reveal away.
(18:25– 20:18) Patrick Jacquot: Yeah. We’ve been working for the past six-eight… Six to eight months on the… Looking at the Loyalty program, we make it easier for customers know. URComped customers, but all customers. So there is some change coming in very soon. I can’t say much more about this because it’s still in the approval process. But it looks like all the leadership team. Superior leadership team, they’re all in agreeance to make this happen. So it’s going to be really, really, really fantastic. While other brands are cutting the loyalty program. I’m sure some of your guests already felt that from all the other brands. We actually going to push it back up a little notch in. I’m really, really truly excited. It’s going to mean less friction when you come on board. Everything will be uploaded that the booking level. So they’ll be no kind of running around for different perks, and etc., etc. So I’m absolutely excited about this. I think it’s long overdue. And here at celebrity and especially at Blue Chip Club, we think about the customer at first. And that’s one of the reason why we wanted to make that change… Customer is everything to us. Thank you for your customer’s question, feedback, and all that. The more we receive… Sometimes they might be good, sometimes bad. I’m good with the bad because that’s the only way we’ll get things better. So thank you so much, Craig, for having me. And if there’s any, any other question from your member families, and from URComped. Always available, we could do this anytime you want every month. I’m all good with that.
(20:18– 20:41) Craig Shacklett: Well, we’re definitely going to do it again. I mean, now that you’ve kind of gave us a little morsel. A little taste to win our appetite about this good news coming about Blue Chip Club juicing up the loyalty program. We cannot wait to hear about this. We hope to be able to break that news when it’s ready. So we definitely want to do this again soon. So Patrick, again, thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate you answering all these questions. And like I said, we will do this again soon.
(20:41– 20:44) Patrick Jacquot: Thank you, Craig.