TravelPulse Q&A: one-on-one with Hard Rock hotels
Hard Rock Hotels offers guests a unique experience – providing visitors with an upscale stay just like rock star royalty. With hotels in 69 countries, guests have many places to choose from for their future vacation and travel.
Dale Hipsh, Senior Vice President of Hard Rock Hotels, explains how the company has implemented new procedures to ensure the safety of all guests and staff, which destinations are popular for them, plans for the future and advice for travel counselors.
TravelPulse (TP): How has Hard Rock International adapted to this new era of travel?
Dale Hipsh (DH): Hard Rock International was one of the first companies to implement a global health and safety plan for properties around the world. SAFE + SOUND was developed by a team of hospitality and gaming experts in collaboration with international health and sanitation specialists, Ecolab and NSF International, taking into account guidelines from key agencies, such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the American Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). SAFE + SOUND is designed to evolve over time and is constantly used to ensure the safety of our guests and team members.
SAFE + SOUND focuses on improved sanitation practices, including workplace protocols, while ensuring transparency throughout the journey for guests and team members. As part of the program, every Hard Rock Hotel worldwide was required to pass the 262-point SAFE + SOUND inspection independently assessed by NSF International before reopening.
Additionally, Hard Rock has kept flexible bookings at all of our hotels knowing that plans may change as travel restrictions come and go. We want to make sure our customers have a seamless experience and we can welcome them with peace of mind.
In fashion now
TP: What kind of comments did the guests give on the new protocols in place?
DH: SAFE + SOUND continues to receive extremely positive feedback in response to the new protocols in place. Through the program and our dedication to our clients, consumers’ confidence to return to our properties has been enhanced. In addition, we instilled the same confidence and pride in our team members, which contributed to our return. Relentless in our commitment to providing our guests with the ultimate experiences when visiting our properties, Hard Rock hotels put their safety first.
This year, we were once again honored to receive the # 1 guest satisfaction among premium hotels in JD Power’s 2021 North America survey. Our third year topped the charts. In particular, we have been recognized for health and safety, ahead of other brands in this category. Additionally, we received the highest overall score of any brand among all categories.
TP: Which destinations are the most trendy for you at the moment?
DH: Due to pent-up demand and relaxed travel restrictions, we’ve seen a resurgence of interest in leisure travel. In the United States, we had record occupancy rates over the summer. The Hard Rock Hotel Orlando has continued to be a market leader and has achieved unprecedented success. Our all-inclusive properties in Mexico and the Caribbean have also been popular destinations for leisure and weddings.
In Europe, we are seeing an increase in our trips. Many of our hotels reopened this summer and their occupancy rates are increasing. The Hard Rock Hotel Madrid, which opened in July, has quickly become a premier property during this increase in travel. In the first six weeks of opening, the Hard Rock Hotel Madrid has achieved # 1 ranking on TripAdvisor among hundreds of competing hotels. Guest satisfaction has been off the charts thanks to excellent customer service and the unique experiences found within the property. As vaccination rates increase around the world, we continue to be optimistic about the future.
TP: What’s new and coming up with Hard Rock International?
DH: Launched in March 2022, the Hard Rock Hotel New York is located in the heart of Manhattan, near Times Square, just steps from the city’s most exciting attractions. The hotel will feature an incredible collection of memorabilia from some of New York City’s greatest musicians. It will also pay homage to the history of the recording studios and music stores that came before us on Music Row.
Designed by Jeffrey Beers International, this hotel sets the stage for a remarkable experience with 446 well-appointed guest rooms and 46 suites, including a stunning Rock Star Suite with an expansive terrace. There will also be an exceptional range of breathtaking entertainment venues, flexible meeting spaces, fantastic dining options, a Body RockÂ® fitness center and rooftop lounge, RT60, offering breathtaking views of the world’s most iconic skyline.
The newest addition to our rapidly growing European portfolio, the Hard Rock Hotel Madrid opened on July 1, 2021. As Spain’s premier metropolitan hotel, the Hard Rock Hotel Madrid blends art, music and local culture to iconic Hard Rock hospitality. . Surrounded by the main attractions of Madrid, the hotel is situated in a privileged location of the Golden Triangle of Art opposite the Museo Reina Sofia, the Museo del Prado and the Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza.
The hotel has been a hit with travelers and locals alike as it houses unique bar and restaurant concepts. The establishment is home to the brand’s signature restaurant, Sessions, GMT +1 Lobby Bar and RT60, a spectacular rooftop bar offering breathtaking views over Madrid, with the beat of live music and DJ sets. The hotel also has a carefully curated souvenir collection that showcases classic Madrid style and culture, as well as international music legends.
TP: What advice do you give today to travel counselors who sell hotels?
DH: In our current travel climate, it’s all about making sure travelers feel safe and comfortable while customizing their stays to create the ultimate getaway. It is imperative that hotels and travel counselors work together to provide customers with the most accurate destination protocols, and we are here to be transparent and informative so that travel planning is as seamless as possible.
Members of our hotel team are available to partner with our community of trusted travel advisors to tailor each traveler’s stay to their preferences. Travelers are eager not only to travel, but also to delve deeply into new cultural experiences and activities that integrate art, music, adventure and more. Our team can help travel counselors choose the right destination, activities, experiences, upgrades and more to ensure their clients’ expectations are not just being met but exceeded.