Brands are always searching for new and exciting ways to engage with travelers. It’s a constant challenge. Just look at a traveler’s profile: always on-the-go; in need of easy access to important information and convenient insights; and likely seeking out details on entertainment and local attractions. With 186 venues across 57 countries, Hard Rock International (www.hardrock.com) makes it a primary concern to discover the best ways to engage with customers who visit any number of the company’s locations.
The challenge Hard Rock faces is to not only find an effective channel to communicate with customers, but to provide a one-of-a-kind brand engagement experience. Merely prioritizing mobile as a unique communication channel for loyal travelers is no longer enough. Customers still seek out opportunities to connect with brands on their own terms, which led to the integration of a loyalty program directly within the Hard Rock mobile experience.
Starting with the basics
Hard Rock regularly monitors customer sentiment to assess what resonates with travelers and where there is need for improvement. In 2012 a huge spike in activity alerted the company that it needed to focus on then-uncharted territory: mobile. Roughly 30-40% of all HardRock.com traffic was stemming from mobile devices -— 1,000,000 mobile page views per day — all without an optimized mobile presence to drive engagement with these important customers.
In response, Hard Rock created a branded mobile experience that offered customers a frictionless information channel that was engaging, seamless, and drew travelers back again and again. Partnering with Usablenet (www.usablenet.com) to create a mobile site, Hard Rock also worked on building out a standalone mobile app. Both proved to be huge successes with about 70% of customers on mobile today and a 42% revenue increase in bookings and merchandise sales made via mobile.
Breeding brand loyalty
Industry mobile ubiquity paired with the rise of e-commerce served as a great reminder to think about brand objectives: delighting the customer, creating an engaging relationship, and finding ways to bring the customer back for more. Although travelers were pleased with the Hard Rock mobile experience — including booking access, GPS location search, social integration, plus offers and rewards — there was still a missing link to the engagement strategy. Something special was needed to keep customers coming back.
In 2014, Hard Rock added a dedicated loyalty component to the initial mobile experience and today, the Hard Rock Rewards (www.members.hardrock.com) loyalty program has reached almost two million users. With so much traffic coming from mobile, it proved imperative to integrate the loyalty experience into mobile.
The loyalty program gives users the chance to earn points on their purchases throughout their journey across Hard Rock’s hotels, cafes, venues, and more. The more locations guests visit, they’re awarded with special pins to commemorate milestone visit achievements. Every rewards member earns money off coupons, exclusive offers and special invitations to events and private parties. Tying in Google Wallet features, as well as other digital wallets, Hard Rock provides consumers using those technologies an easier way to access the program. This convenience has drawn users back again and again.
In a world where travelers don’t go anywhere without their mobile device, brands need to learn to cater to this always-on consumer. Operators must create an optimized experience tailored to what their specific consumers want and use. Travel brands can only benefit from creating a unique mobile loyalty experience that is engaging, convenient, seamless, and visually stunning, so as to delight the consumer and keep them coming back for more.
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