A Star Is Born: Hard Rock Hotel London

The UK’s first Hard Rock Hotel opened in London in June. At this year’s Revenue Strategy Forum in London, Duetto’s Executive Chairman, Patrick Bosworth caught up with Ian Fletcher, General Manager, Hard Rock Hotel London, to discover what makes the Hard Rock brand so unique, how that translates from the Hard Rock Cafes into hotels, and the revenue opportunities that come with such a prominent brand.

Here’s an extract from the conversation:

Patrick Bosworth: The Hard Rock Hotels brand has a different positioning to the Hard Rock Café brand, what opportunities and challenges does that pose?

Ian Fletcher: We've actually got both brands operating within the one roof space.

The real reason why we did it was to try and maximize revenues through a brand. Because those of you who operate in city centre hotels, particularly in London, you'll find that actually, unless you've got a Michelin starred chef, or you've got a talented known chef, or you've got a brand that's represented, it's sometimes quite difficult with all the many millions of restaurants that we have in London, to actually get footfall within your proposition. So what we tried to do is make sure that we maximized our revenue opportunities.

Patrick Bosworth: What’s been your experience over these first few months, and during the development of the hotel?

Ian Fletcher: It's been really good because GLH operates 15 properties in London. So, our knowledge of the London market is very, very good. We operate 5,000 rooms in London. What Hard Rock International doesn't have is experience in London, with the exception of the Hard Rock Cafe. So, we're learning to work together.

Patrick Bosworth: What are the things that have been most challenging for you personally in the first few months of operating?

Ian Fletcher: I came into the property quite late on - I came in December. I've worked with GLH now for 12 years, so the biggest learning really for me was understanding what Hard Rock Hotel was, because I hadn't stayed in one before and I didn't know what the Hard Rock Hotel culture was. So, I went over Tenerife; it's a beautiful hotel there, operating at 600 bedrooms, and I got to know the brand by staying there.

Patrick Bosworth: How are you leveraging your unique asset towards attracting the specific customers that will be valuable to you?

Ian Fletcher: One of the key things there is the fact that with Hard Rock it's got its database of international travellers, that go to many of its properties, and it uses a reward and membership scheme. So, we've part of that. Coupled with that, you've also got people who go into the Rock Shops around the world as well. They're also a part of the membership. There is also the database that we've got for Hard Rock Cafes. So, we've got a large base that we operate and use for that.

We've got a website, which is through Hard Rock’s hub. We couple that with our GLH website. We're doing a lot of digital marketing as well, utilizing all the information that we have via the Hard Rock International team as well. And we're particularly propositioning our approach and leveraging the Hard Rock International brand through the Americas.

We're in sort of the infancy if you like, of the Hard Rock Hotel brand, and we feel as though we can really help our friends in the rest of Europe, as we start to build more and more properties... the next one to be built is the one in Dublin which opens up in March next year.

Patrick Bosworth: Are you able to design service operations based on customer profile?

Ian Fletcher: Yes, very much so. One of the principles that we've introduced as part of Hard Rock is what's called Rock Royalty. It’s our executive-type check-in. You're met at the airport, you're then brought in the car where you've chosen your music to be played throughout the journey. At the hotel, you check-in through a Rock Royalty check-in - total VIP.

Patrick Bosworth: What is the biggest challenge your brand faces at this time and how do you plan to tackle it?

Ian Fletcher: It is about the general understanding of what a Hard Rock Hotel is. We’re not knocking on the door of five-star but are certainly in the four-star deluxe market. We're working at getting the name out there, because Hard Rock themselves are really growing- the brand has just opened its 30th hotel with the guitar-shaped Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Florida. That will help enormously with more social media about the property, more engagement, more knowledge. So, I think we'll do well going forward.

Sarah McCay Tams, Director of Content, EMEA

Sarah joined Duetto in 2015 as a contributing editor covering Europe, Middle East & Africa (EMEA). In 2017, she was promoted to Director of Content, EMEA. An experienced B2B travel industry journalist, Sarah spent 14 years working in the Middle East, most notably as senior editor – hospitality for ITP Publishing Group in Dubai, where she headed up the editorial teams on Hotelier Middle East, Caterer Middle East and Arabian Travel News. Sarah is now based back in the UK.

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