Interviews

Creating a unique guest experience

Click. sits down with Graham Kiy, Area Vice President EMEA at Hard Rock International, who shares his tips on shaping an unforgettable stay
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Graham Kiy

As the marketplace becomes increasingly competitive and consumer expectations evolve, it’s more important than ever to offer guests a memorable experience. Hard Rock International offers a distinct stay by focusing on its niche - music - and weaving it throughout all aspects of the business. But what can the industry learn from this approach? We speak to the brand’s Area Vice President EMEA to learn more.

Click.: What’s your advice for creating a unique guest experience?

Kiy: A unique guest experience means curating a personalised journey for the guest from start to finish. But you also have to be true to your brand DNA - what it stands for and what it represents. Over the years, Hard Rock has developed and fine-tuned this experience with an array of brand-signature amenities available across the hotels. Our offering is intertwined with the roots of the brand’s musically significant origin, ensuring there is always an incorporation of music in whatever we do.

Click.: What’s been the impact of offering these unique amenities?

Kiy: They [the amenities] are the type of things that guests talk about and will post on social media - it makes a difference to their overall experience. This then results in guest advocacy, which is often the case with our Sound of Your Stay® experience where guests can try picks®, choosing from several Fender guitars to take to their room, along with headphones and a Fender headphone amp. Some people know how to play and want that pop-up studio experience, but others just love taking pictures and putting them on social media. Guests will ask straight-away upon arrival which guitar they can take into their room because they’ve already heard about the programme online. 

Through our amenities, the brand also delivers its key message and the core of its philosophy - music. Our programmes are able to reach any audience, and enable guests to further enjoy their music-inspired experience - from in-room personal playlists to music-infused yoga.

Click.: How do you extend that experience to other areas of the business?

Kiy: Our job titles also mirror brand experiences, and add another dynamic element to the guest experience. Guests at Hard Rock want to feel completely immersed, so we strive to incorporate this into all aspects of our service.

Our VIBE - Visionary Individual Behind Energy - Managers [for example] are in place to ensure that all our hotels, especially the arrival experience and lobby spaces, have exactly the right atmosphere. In charge of lighting, music, decor, entertainment and surrounding memorabilia, VIBE Managers are responsible for the energy that guests feel in a Hard Rock Hotel.

Click.: What’s the importance of brands being able to tell a unique story?

Kiy: Increasingly, people want to identify with something when they choose a hotel - particularly for leisure stays. They want to find a property which suits them, their personality and their lifestyle. So, having this identity with music creates a niche for us that people can be attracted to. We recognise it’s not necessarily a theme for everybody, but it’s about knowing your audience and catering to their preferences.

Click.: What guest experience trends are you currently noticing?

Kiy: Our property in London often has live music events in the bar and restaurant areas which is one of its strong attraction points. I can see this type of entertainment really gaining momentum among hotel guests and local residents. I’m also getting feedback from the team at the London property saying it has attracted guests from other hotels in the area because the place where they’re staying doesn’t offer this option.

We’re fortunate that we’ve chosen this path because it’s the direction a lot of guests are moving towards. Hard Rock really tries to find unique ways of entertaining people; we’re not just in the hospitality industry, we’re in the entertainment business as well.

Traditionally, hotel bars and restaurants are quite quiet and sombre. By turning these areas into destinations, the guests feel the energy and the enjoyment levels become higher.


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Hero image: credit to Priscilla du Preez

Takeaway
  • According to Graham Kiy, a unique guest experience means curating a personalised journey for the guest while staying true to your brand DNA
  • To create a memorable and unique experience, focus on the amenities available to guests during their stay
  • By turning hotel bars and restaurants into energy-filled destinations, properties can increase guest satisfaction

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