Member loyalty reimagined​

Enhancing the Players Club experience through a loyalty companion app


Web & Platform


App Development
API Integration


From card based loyalty programme to online app​

Back in 2017, Christchurch Casino used a traditional loyalty programme, (Players Club) to engage with their loyal members. Their plastic card-based system (bronze, silver, gold, black, and platinum tiered cards) enabled loyal members to earn points and redeem promotions, but it wasn’t secure, or, in keeping with a growing range of digital competitive offerings.

The brief from Christchurch Casino was clear – create an engaging mobile app solution to support their current loyalty programme, ensure security was top of mind, and provide a vehicle for future loyalty programme enhancements.

A reference point at the time of initial build, was the Air New Zealand app  a leading member based app with a mix of practical functionality, security, and geo-fencing technology for an innovative customer experience.

Security was important to Christchurch Casino in the sense that they needed a secure verification process to sign on members (verifying that the app was downloaded by the actual account holder was mandatory). Christchurch Casino also needed the ability to instantly cancel accounts in the event that members were banned from the premises, or if they had abused the casino rules of conduct. The app also provided the opportunity to outline the host’s responsibility requirements, where frontline staff help ensure safer environments.

Other core product attributes required of the mobile app included the personalisation of the following account details:

  • Current points balance
  • Current membership tier
  • Exclusive casino events 
  • Offers – that members receive via promotions
  • QR code redemption of prizes, chances to win, game tickets
  • Messaging service between members and casino staff

Christchurch Casino was also keen to have a simple Content Management System (CMS) that allowed for non-technical users to add or edit text and image content (for rapidly changing prize draws and promotions etc).

Uptake of the new mobile loyalty app​

The final product build was called Players Club. Simple to download from the Apple App Store and Google Play Store via a link from the casino’s website. It allowed members to securely log in to the app, check their points balance, view the casino’s latest events and promotions, ‘scratch to win’ instant prizes. Whilst also allowing premium level members to have the ability to chat to casino staff via an instant messaging function.

The immediacy that the mobile app could deliver was crucial to its success: delivery of push notifications at point of entry; the instant scratch and win prizes and simple QR code redemption; resulted in a much larger than expected uptake in downloads of the app. Although in line with Christchurch Casino’s objectives of encouraging usage of the loyalty programme, the popularity and growing member base of the more dynamic loyalty programme did take the team by surprise. There were even reports from some members that this was a great excuse to upgrade their mobile phones – so that they could download the app!

When we first developed the app, the magic of the product was in its geo-fencing technology, whereby members received push notifications of promotions and special offers when they entered the casino, and had the ability to view food and beverage menus, with loyalty programme points being able to be redeemed for these items. A unique promotional in-app tool was the instant scratch and win prizes, always popular with the previous paper-based loyalty programme, and now reimagined digitally.

In 2020, Apple and Android introduced changes to location permissions for mobile devices

The scratch and win prizes were no longer popping up on screen when members entered the casino. Casino staff were having to spend valuable time assisting members to change their location settings manually, and disappointed members were writing negative app reviews – something had to change.

Working closely and quickly with the Christchurch Casino team was crucial to navigating these new operating system changes. The solution we came up with, is, on-site QR code scanners – simple for members to use, and seamless for casino staff to manage. We’ve also introduced eight new games for members, replacing the previous scratch game, (which will be available for Players Club members in an upcoming app update).

Technology changes can often lead us to better outcomes. We also need to keep up with member expectations. Daily use of QR scanning for COVID-19 tracing meant that in-house QR code scanners within the casino environment are no longer considered daunting technology for members to use, but rather, a logical solution.

Complex security needs

Security and privacy was high on the mandatory deliverables list, as Christchurch Casino sought to minimise security breaches and keep member details secure. A key concern with the old card-based loyalty programme, was not being able to use someone else’s membership card. As a result, a rigorous member verification process was employed to ensure programme account security.

Security breaches around the prizes was also a concern, so security analysis steps were taken to minimise exposure to hacks and cyber attacks that may be generated in order to falsely claim prizes.

The one on one messaging service was also important to secure, from a privacy and data perspective. Since the product launched in 2018, we’ve migrated the chat function of the app from a third party call centre managed messaging, to a more streamlined, secure Intercom chat function. Intercom enables efficient in-app messaging aimed at improving customer experience. Intercom also allows internationalisation, so that members can communicate with the casino in their chosen language. We’d consider Christchurch Casino a power user of Intercom features and functionality  it has completely changed the way they interact with their customers and the overall user experience (UX).

The benefits of building an MVP, team collaboration and working remotely

The 2018 Players Club Rewards app was effectively released as a minimum viable product (MVP). We were tasked with replicating and improving the existing card-based loyalty programme to make it more secure. What naturally fell out of the MVP was a more dynamic programme, with instant prizes that gained popularity as members were notified when they entered the casino, and a simple yet effective in-app chat tool. The app resulted in behavioural change, happier users and a more effective programme for Christchurch Casino. We love surprising our clients in this way – taking a project and generating a better than hoped-for end result!

Three years on, we’re still working with Christchurch Casino, supporting ongoing enhancements of the app. In turn, they are referring our services to other companies and organisations they work closely with.

As we’ve continued to build trust and a respectful working relationship with the Christchurch Casino team, we’ve effectively become their technology consultancy – not just their app developer. Using our wide ranging knowledge of customer experience, UX/UI, digital solutions and new technologies, we’ve been able to partner with Christchurch Casino to optimise their mobile app and simplify the customer (and staff) experience. We now work collaboratively to agree on future innovations for the product and the benefit of Players Club Rewards members. We’ve evolved from a project based contract to a managed service monthly fee, where we can both support the existing product and explore new directions too.

There have been other cost benefits for Christchurch Casino too – the app’s ability to reduce the need for social media and email communications by using the app’s targeted messaging ability.

Working remotely back in 2018 was a bigger deal than it is today. With PaperKite’s HQ in Wellington and the Christchurch Casino team in Christchurch, we worked hard early on to develop our sense of ‘team’. Being super responsive to queries from the Christchurch based team, using Slack to communicate; daily, weekly team updates, and more regular stand-ups during high delivery periods, ensured both our teams remained on the same page throughout the project as well as having queries managed promptly. As trust and confidence has grown between the two teams, we’ve been able to quickly diagnose support issues and make sure we talk to the right people when we need to.

This is a true example of an incremental mobile app rollout. Taking measured, small steps towards product development, building trust between teams and testing as we go. We love to work like this, and feel like a valued member of the wider Christchurch Casino team. We believe this is what a true partnership model should look like. Look out for what we’re cooking up together over the next few years!

The numbers​

1 %

increase in membership sign ups during launch month

1 %

who downloaded the app during launch week made a physical trip to the Casino

1 th

place in the NZ App Store ‘Top Charts’ list during launch month.

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