Hard 'Rockin' the Customer Experience

By Joe Tenczar, Sr. Director of IT, Hard Rock International | October 08, 2010

Hard Rock Cafe (www.hardrock.com) is known worldwide for its exhaustive and authentic Rock 'n Roll memorabilia collection, consisting of more than 72,000 pieces of instruments, clothing, lyrics and other celebrity items that rotate amongst its 169 cafe, hotel and casino locations. The company, which is owned by the Seminole Tribe of Florida, was looking for a way to increase sales, loyalty, and branding, and at the same time, deliver a unique customer experience around the collection. Until recently, the vast majority of Hard Rock's music-related memorabilia was either displayed in one of its 134+ cafes around the world or locked in the "memo vault." It wasn't easy to share it with customers, many of whom are music enthusiasts.

In the hopes to deliver a new, digital experience to customers, Hard Rock embarked on a journey to begin digitizing those valuable pieces in 2008. With the help of the San Francisco-based Obscura Digital (www.obscuradigital.com), Hard Rock installed a multi-touch "RockWall" at its flagship cafes in Las Vegas, Orlando and Los Angeles. The 18-foot wide and four-foot high RockWall multi-touch displays allow visitors to view thousands of items on a high-resolution interactive screen instead of peering at a small number of items behind glass cases.

Multiple customers can simultaneously use their hands to select, read about, move, zoom and search for imagery and video of memorabilia on the display. The RockWall in Las Vegas gets between 500 and 1,000 visitors per day. Yet the ability to bring the 18x4 foot wall to other restaurants beyond the larger, flagship locations wasn't viable.

In 2009, Hard Rock and Obscura Digital devised a way to deliver the concept more broadly and cost effectively to many locations, by designing a multi-touch monitor and application for a single person, called RockWall Solo. The system highlights all of the same content as the larger walls. Currently, several Hard Rock Cafe locations, including Seattle, Dallas, Detroit and Berlin, have the RockWall Solo displays installed, with 16 other locations under way.

The touch technology behind the display is the NextWindow 2150 touch screen (www.nextwindow.com), which sits on top of a 52-inch NEC monitor (www.necdisplay.com) integrated by Horizon Display (www.horizondisplay.com). So far, the displays have been extremely popular with Hard Rock Cafe visitors. At Hard Rock Cafe Seattle, the screen receives an average 3,000 touches per day.

Hard Rock liked the NextWindow technology because it's proven, cost effective, and readily available on the market. Plus, the speed of the touch screen interaction ("frame rate") performed at 60 frames per second, which is more than was expected from this type of technology.

Hard Rock is always thinking about ways to improve the customer experience. Increasingly technology is helping to realize the company's key goal of reconnecting people around the world with the music they love.

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