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Hard Rock merges mobile, travel for a ubiquitous loyalty experience

With more than half of Hard Rock International?s Web traffic derived from mobile devices, the hotel and restaurant chain is bringing a mobile focus to all of its Web properties, including its loyalty program.

Hard Rock launched an upgraded loyalty experience late in December 2013, which now extends seamless white glove service internationally for travelers to access earned rewards at brand owned cafes, casinos, hotels, music venues, and restaurants. The loyalty experience remains consistent for fans no matter where they are or what device they are using, and taps into omni-channel to create an engaging experience.

?We decided in 2013 that it was going to be the year of mobile for us,? said Kim Matlock, senior director of digital marketing and customer relationship management for Hard Rock.

?For us as a brand and in general for brands to have mobile loyalty, it needs to be recognized that the devices are constantly changing and people want what they want, where they want it, on the device they want it on, and so you need to make it as frictionless as possible for consumers to interact by having a responsive mobile experience.?

In an interview with Mobile Marketer, the executive discusses how mobile fits into Hard Rock?s mission to deliver loyalty to a global audience and how it is helping the company reach undiscovered markets.

How has Hard Rock come to adopt mobile across all channels of operation?
The Hard Rock brand has been around for 43 years and we?ve been in the Internet space for more than twenty. Every few years we end up revamping our digital site to create a better user experience. In 2012 we overhauled our loyalty program and created a new one called Hard Rock Rewards that is a global program available in 58 countries around the world and embraces a multi-faceted set of individuals. In putting together this global program we knew that getting it launched was critical in making sure all the business touch points worked. What we knew immediately came from our social media presence and found that a majority of our fans interact with us in that space, and so it was important for us to have become mobile friendly as well the rewards program.

More than half of our Web traffic is resulted from users accessing our online experience through a mobile device. We looked for partner to help us hone that experience and that?s when we partnered with Usablenet. So we started with and then mobilized our loyalty program by the end of 2013. And we?ve since gone on to mobilize our online Rock Shop ecommerce experience, and we are about to launch our brand new Hard Rock Hotel Web site which will have a mobile presence as well.

When it comes to mobile loyalty, how important is consistency in terms of supporting an omni-channel strategy?
From an omni-channel standpoint in our owned media space, when we email, we make sure it is mobile friendly so subscribers can get our electronic communications and receive them on a device that is ready and able to read those messages. From a social media standpoint we have over 11 million fans across 9 different platforms and over one thousand different accounts.

We want to be present where ever our customers are and we want them to be able to experience us on whatever device they have. We push our content to be easily accessible through whatever channel they want to engage with.

What are your best practices on mobile for loyalty?
In general you need to have the guest that?s part of the program be able to easily access their program information. We have a digital loyalty card for our program benefits along with digital rewards that have to be executed differently when used internationally. And we needed to make it simple so the staff understands what the consumer is showing them on a mobile device and how to act on it.

Can you share any learnings or data about successful mobile implementations?
With our current rewards program we are well on our way to 2 million members, and although we only have locations in 58 countries, data shows that our fans are representative of over 100 countries. We were excited to find fans in locations we don?t have properties in and that is interesting because they are communicating with us on mobile devices in places we would never think would be mobile enabled.

What is the customer experience like with your loyalty program?
We hope that the experience is a simple one. It isn?t an app so customers don?t have to go and download anything as it is a mobile Web experience.

We strive to ensure it is badge of honor for folks to have a card and we realize that having a physical representation of this in a wallet n is difficult for our customers. So we developed a digital card that was is just as impressive and would help our staff deliver on the promise of the benefits. It was also important for us to track our customers? visits around the world and we wanted to reward that and make sure they understood that we knew where they have been so we can celebrate that activity with them.

 Final Take
Michelle is editorial assistant on Mobile Marketer, New York