Josh Littman is the EMEA Vice President of Development for Hotels at Hard Rock International, based in London, having joined the company in April 2012. At Hard Rock, he is responsible for expanding the firm’s portfolio of hotels in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region, which involves the sourcing of opportunities, negotiation of transaction details and participation during the planning stage for any new projects through to pre-opening. I’m very happy to share with you its interview about the art of welcoming and Hard Rock Hotels.
What is your business approach of Hard Rock Hotels “art de recevoir/artofwelcoming”?
Our company brand mission is: “To spread the spirit of good music, by creating authentic experiences that rock.” That underlying approach to hospitality transcends everything we strive to achieve at Hard Rocks and especially in the execution of our hotel operations. We have five key descriptors that further capture our essence: Authentic, Philanthropic, Passionate, Unpredictable, and Democratic. These values are embraced both internally and externally and the final output is a sense of welcoming into the Hard Rock family for both guests and our fellow employees.
Do you think that Hard Rock Hotels “art de recevoir” is a differentiating factor for hotels?
We strive to make each single guest feel like a rock star during each interaction, the first being their arrival at a Hard Rock Hotel. We are fortunate to be at the forefront of the music space for over 45 years, making our music-driven messaging as authentic as it gets. This same messaging extends beyond hotels and into restaurants, casinos, live music and philanthropy. We therefore interact with consumers and brand fans well outside of normal hotel channels and each venue the art of welcoming is a signature feature where fans have come to know and expect Hard Rock’s world-class service standards.
What are the values that you emphasize when welcoming your customers? What experiences will you deliver?
At Hard Rock Hotels we aim to make every guest feel like a rock star and that means regardless if you are a first time guest or a VIP you can expect the same level of world-class service that Hard Rock is known around the world for. We have a further four credos that we embrace as a brand: “Love All Serve All”, “All is One”, “Take Time to be Kind” and “Save the Planet”. I believe that sums it up!
What are the main characteristics of the services you offer compared to the other hotels?
Music is Hard Rock’s biggest differentiator and we ensure it is at the forefront of every experience. It is the single strand of DNA that runs through everything we do, both internally and externally. From the minute a guests checks in they are provided with a playlist for streaming as part of the brand’s signature Sound of Your Stay program, which also allows for Fender guitar rentals delivered in-room, as well as professional DJ equipment complete with video mixing lessons. The same can be said for the Rock Spa where guests can book a Rhythm & Motion treatment. Recognized as the world’s first fully immersive musical spa experience, the spa menu’s signature treatment Synchronicity modernizes Swedish massage practices by bringing in high tech touches and music.
Each employee is an ambassador of his hotel and the promise of expected services. What actions do you put in place to involve your team in the success of the customer experience? How do you motivate them so that they give the best of themselves?
As mentioned, the Hard Rock brand is instilled in key attributes, such as authentic, passionate, unpredictable, democratic and philanthropic. Hard Rockers all share a common thread and traits that align with the brand’s attributes. Of course, most Hard Rockers if not all are crazy passionate about music and making this world a better place through abiding by the company’s “Love All, Serve All” motto. From a training perspective, Hard Rock International threads music and memorabilia, the brand’s key differentiators in training programs. This year, Hard Rock announced its new guest service program: Amplified Service. Amplified Service provides a clear definition and standard for the world-class service Hard Rock is known, as well as the steps to deliver and defined traits needed in staff to execute it. Additionally, the Walk This Way program is a required management training conference that instills culture, develops skills and drives consistency in the execution of our brand standards.
What are your sources of inspiration when designing the Hard Rock Hotels? What spirit do you want to instill in building Hard Rock Hotels?
While I’m not directly involved in the design process, I can say that all Hard Rock Hotels capture the essence of music culture: bold, inspired and eye catching. This is visible in all our Hotels around the globe where you will see priceless memorabilia showcases and pieces adorning the walls and artist inspired elements (such as lyrics and the heights of superstars engrained in the mirrors). This is of course just scratching the surface.
What is the most beautiful memory with Hard Rock Hotels? Can you tell us an anecdote that you have experienced?
This is actually not a personal experience, but one that was told to me spontaneously by an industry professional I met. They went on a 2-week honeymoon to Asia, staying at a number of 5-star luxury hotels. While travelling to Penang, they stopped in for dinner and drinks at the Hard Rock Hotel. Unbeknownst to them, there was a music competition taking place on the beach with a host of local talented artists. They had such a fabulous time that the decided to switch hotels and spend the duration of their honeymoon at the Hard Rock Hotel Penang.
In another example, following our opening party for the Hard Rock Hotel Ibiza, a well-established hotel executive who stayed with us for a couple of nights ended up switching to another new 5-star hotel as part of his “assignment” while in Ibiza. While the hotel was apparently lovely, he and his wife ended up coming back to the Hard Rock Hotel Ibiza to spend heir days and evenings, only returning to their hotel to sleep (they were unable to cancel their rooms, otherwise they would have returned to our hotel).
Laurent Delporte, an editor and conference speaker, is a strategic expert in the sector of hotels. A visionary, he brings his unique look on hotels in service to the decision-makers in the industry, whether to enhance the development of new projects or strategic visions.
Laurent has visited and audited over 350 hotels across the world and also participates in mystery visits to provide quality control for the world’s finest hotels.