What are some of the programs you are developing to cater to MICE customers?
We are trying to create a corporate social responsibility program geared as the MICE market in conjunction with Clean the World, and it will be a test model in a couple of our properties next year. If they are well embraced, then we will put it into a branded program for all of our properties. Part of what is interesting about Hard Rock is that we have our own foundation, Hard Rock Heals. So, we already have a philanthropic organization that we support at the brand level. We’re trying to take it down into that relationship and speak to our MICE customers because wanting to give back seems as that is a common core value. We’re also working with our brand folks, Sound Of Your Stay, which we offer to the transient guests and we want to pull that in and offer it to the MICE customer.
Are there any new trends that hotels like Hard Rock are doing differently—first, to get and keep events, and then, to make them more memorable?
Our brand is very experiential, and it’s centered around music and entertainment. It speaks to each generation differently. A meeting at the Hard Rock will not be “cookie cutter.” That seems to be a trend that transient and MICE customers are looking for. That is why customers keep coming back time and time again. Each hotel is different, and has its own personality even though it is revolved around the Hard Rock brand.
What was the most interesting event you ever had to put on?
This goes way back when I was at Mandalay Bay with a 1.5 million-sq.-ft. convention center with 3,000 rooms. We had a company coming in and we only had two hours to do a full tour of the building and serve lunch. It was very well timed, but also experiential. With the help of our entertainment department, we toured them through the property. There were vignettes in each area and then they were all given construction tool belts where we stored their lunch. They were able to eat and walk and talk and explore the building. We broke them into teams, of the 50-60 people, and it was a scavenger hunt with a form to be filled out at the end of the tour. It was educational, a way to tour them through the property, a way to create relationships with the various team members, and make it a fun, competitive activity.