LAS VEGAS—The secret ingredient to making sure a hotel—or any entity for that matter— runs smoothly is to ensure that every member of the team has the right information at the right time. A tool to disseminate information quickly—especially in the digital age—is important. And if your company is as large as Caesars Entertainment Corporation, with 50-plus properties and an employee base of some 60,000, that need becomes critical—even if it can be a bit of a challenge.
According to Carolyn Wheeler, director of internal communications at Caesars, the biggest challenge with communicating with staff is reaching Caesars’ team members. “Our business is hospitality, our business is working with guests, making sure their needs are met, making sure they’re having fun, that they are getting the best check-in service, the best food & beverage service, so those team members are not in front of a computer,” she said. “The typical way you communicate is via email—it’s fast and immediate, cost effective, but that doesn’t work for our team. They’re not going home and looking at emails from work. In fact, the majority of our team members—85% or more, depending on what property—don’t even have a Caesars email address.”
The company used to reach out to employees via two main methods: managers and posters. Either managers would receive emails and disseminate the information to their staff or posters would be placed in back-of-house areas for staff to see. Neither solution was preferable, according to Wheeler, who noted that in this industry, change happens quickly. “Managers can’t stay on top of everything; it’s hard for them to spend 20 minutes disseminating all of that information to their team members,” she said. The posters aren’t much better as they raise environmental concerns. “Sustainability is a big part of our code of commitment, not just because it’s costly, but it’s just not good for the environment to be printing all of those posters. We really wanted to find a better way that’s more effective to reach our team members,” she said.
Enter APPrise Mobile, a mobile employee communications solution that helped Caesars create its branded CaesarsToday app. According to the company, the app allows employees to hear from corporate management while still receiving local information relevant to their location or job. The app provides information related to schedules, HR manuals, paychecks and messages from management. Through analytics, Caesars can determine how the app is being utilized, as well as what content drives the most engagement. (For instance, the timing of publication of certain information with payroll or schedules increases the likelihood that the other corporate content reaches the employees.)
With real-time communication, employees have the option to receive push notifications/text alerts that appear on the home screen of their mobile devices when new content is added. The app also has a broadcast alert function if a critical message needs to go out. Only authorized Caesars employees have access to the app, and when an employee changes roles, the individual’s information aligns with the new role. If an employee leaves the company, access to the app is denied.
The best part of the app, said Wheeler, is the ability to create different groups for different types of information. “We needed to make sure the content being delivered was meaningful to our team members. Everything we send out isn’t necessarily applicable to all of our team members. We worked with APPrise to put together an intricate hierarchy so we could create a delineation of the type of content team members get,” she said. “The information that a housekeeper needs may be different than what a table games dealer needs or a front desk clerk. We were able to set our lists up so that I’m able to deliver a piece of content to somebody at a specific property in a specific department at a specific level so that I can make sure they’re not getting overwhelmed with content, and they’re getting the content they need. That’s been very effective because now they’re not seeing 20 posters in back of house with only one that’s meaningful to them. Now they’re getting that content delivered directly to their phone and it’s content they need to know, they want to know, and it helps them connect to the company. They feel like they’re part of the company, not just a nameless team member.”
Wheeler noted that she’s been asked how useful the app can be with regard to housekeepers and other lower-wage workers, as it requires them to own a smartphone. “Smartphones are critical [for these workers],” she said, noting that many don’t have a laptop or computer at home. “It really becomes their quintessential communication tool. The smartphone is their connection to the world. It only makes sense to utilize an app and tool like this.”
According to Wheeler, Caesars was looking for a solution from a company that was a “trendsetter, who had a product on the shelf but that the product wasn’t so set in stone.” Of the CaesarsToday app, she said, “It’s very flexible and allows for us to give them input on some of the tools and features we need. Being in the hospitality industry, it’s different than the functionality needed in a real estate or healthcare industry. Every industry has their unique needs and parameters. It was great that we were able to be a part of rolling out an amazing product, but also developing a little bit of the product and giving them a lot of the parameters of what we need to make this a robust tool for our use.”
To download the original, PDF version of this article published on April 21, 2017, click here.