Top Brand Rocks Loyalty, Mobile

When you're one of the most recognizable brands in the world, consumers expect a certain type of experience - as in a flawless one - and their digital expectations are no different. 

Hard Rock International is one top brand that is actively analyzing and optimizing its user experience, from mobile to social, to meet and exceed those expectations. Recently, Hard Rock launched a mobile version of its rewards program experience. Website Magazine caught up with Hard Rock International Senior Director of Digital Marketing and CRM to discuss how the global brand is marrying the unique opportunities of both customer loyalty and mobile. 

What makes the Hard Rock Rewards experience unique from other loyalty programs?

Kim Matlock, Hard Rock International: The Hard Rock consumer is adventurous, playful and a discoverer at heart, so we sought to create a program that embodied this creative spirit. We envisioned a loyalty experience that would not only delight our guests, but would foster an engaging, meaningful relationship to encourage repeat visits. We created an international, personalized loyalty program that allows consumers to interact with the Hard Rock brand in a unique manner, and brought that to life on mobile. Hard Rock Rewards gives users the opportunity to earn points on purchases across Hard Rock's hotels, cafes, venues and more. Rewards members receive special coupons, exclusive offers and invitations to events and private parties. By tying in Google Wallet features, the program gives consumers easy access to our program and flexibility in how they prefer to pay. There are also a lot of special surprises -- those who venture to new locations or reach special milestones in their Hard Rock relationship receive commemorative pins.  

What led to the decision to make the Hard Rock Rewards program available on mobile? Was there a demand for it or is Hard Rock anticipating the demand?

Matlock: In 2012, we enhanced our mobile presence after noticing an impressive spike in mobile activity. Travelers were pleased by the optimized site and all its features, ranging from booking access and social integration to GPS location search and special rewards, but we felt there was still a missing link to our engagement strategy. Our customers wanted to engage with the Hard Rock brand on their own terms, so working with Usablenet, our mobile technology partner, we made the decision to integrate a loyalty program within our mobile offerings to further personalize the Hard Rock journey. The program is not only an effective way to communicate with our consumers, but provides a tailored, curated experience to loyal customers.

What kind of results in engagement has Hard Rock seen once making the program available on mobile?

Matlock: Before we had even optimized our mobile website, we noticed that 30-40 percent of all traffic was stemming from mobile, adding up to around 1,000,000 mobile page views per day. Those numbers made it clear that having a strong mobile presence was essential to further delight our consumers. After launching Hard Rock Rewards, membership skyrocketed to almost two million users, demonstrating how important it was for us to integrate our loyalty program onto mobile.

What does this shift to mobile mean for the larger retail and hospitality community?

Matlock: Mobile is the constant companion for the modern-day traveler. Brands need to understand that since consumers are always on the go, they must make it possible for them to stay connected.  While a digital presence is important, it's no longer enough to simply have a mobile site -- experiences must be optimized and tailored to best fit consumers' needs. By creating such experiences, travel brands open the door to seamless, convenient transactions and experiences that are not only visually stunning, but meaningful and engaging.