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Not surprising to see concerts by Dave Matthews, Green Day, and other top groups since Live Nation recently purchased Ticket Master.
A recent article in the LA Times reports that 48% of consumers are "eating out less often now than they did six months ago" (Hallock, 2009). John Self, a professor at Cal Poly Pomona in Los Angeles County, who has published a study of why restaurants fail, estimates that about 1,100 restaurants open in L.A. County annually; and among those, 24% close the first year and within three years 50% of those 1,100 have closed. But given the sluggish economy, Self asserts that up to 50% of new restaurants may be expected close in the first year, double the number that close in good economic times.
Data are not available as to how the recession has affected HRC, or Planet Hollywood, Johnny Rocket's or other theme-centered restaurants, but it can be safely assumed that all eateries are hurting to some degree. The recession has also changed the way people date, according to The New York Times "City Room"; "Recent anecdotal evidence suggests that people are not dating less because of the recession," and in fact what they are doing is dating more than ever on online dating sites, that are reporting "double-digit growth" (Buckley, 2009). But with cocktails running up to $18 in clubs and food prices soaring, how many of those couples who hooked up online are planning to visit HRC? That's not a question that can be easily answered, but it is a sure bet that a substantial share of HRC's business comes from couples on a date, or married persons going out on a romantic evening date.
What makes the Hard Rock Cafe service different?
For one thing, the moment you enter the lobby / reception area of a Hard Rock Cafe you are greeted / welcomed by a smiling, articulate young person, usually an attractive female. The music hits you right away. Looking around the spacious room you see people enjoying drinks and meals and checking out the memorabilia. A quick look around at the attractively decorated walls of a HRC reveals not just guitars, signed clothing and photos of Elvis in a pink Cadillac, but also high-visibility evidence that Hard Rock Cafe is serious about "Save the Planet." The philanthropic part of this "high energy" restaurant business is impressive.
Some of the nonprofit and advocacy organizations that HRC supports include: Amnesty International (which shows that HRC is not shy about being identified with politically-active organizations); Breast Cancer Research Foundation; Children's Miracle Network; Crossroads Center (founded by Eric Clapton, who has placed a number of his guitars and other musical instruments in HRCs); Habitat for Humanity; Music Rising; Peace Games; Sharon Osborne Colon Cancer Research Foundation (Ozzy Osborne's organization with his wife); World Hunger Year (WHY) / Artists Against Hunger & Poverty (AAHRP); Farm Aid; Sustainable BioDiesel Alliance; and Wildlife Conservation Society / Cotton Conservation Initiative (CCI).
The impressive thing about Hard Rock Cafe's willingness to be part of the charitable and social change community is the fact that HRC is not shy about linking up with a group like Amnesty International. Log on to Amnesty International's web site at any time any day and there are controversial issues that take many countries to task. "Israel Army probe says it committed no violations of human rights in Gaza," for example, and "First 100 Days…mixed messages from President Obama" (www.amnesty.org).
Summary & Conclusion:
The bold start that the HRC launched in London back in 1971 turned out to be a winner for the two enterprising young men featured earlier in this paper, Isaac Tigrett and Peter Morton. They had the good sense to present a theme (rock music, rock stars, rock memorabilia) that would attract a customer base that is as huge as perhaps any musically-connected demographic in the world. Certainly jazz clubs have plenty of fans, and country music has never been bigger. But rock 'n' roll is here to stay, as some musician once wrote, and where else but at a Hard Rock Cafe can you get a cold beer and wander through a plethora of cool rock items like John Lennon's hand-written song lyrics and Elton John's set list?
Moreover, the management at the top level of HRC's corporate pyramid has made sure that besides the rock themes and memorabilia and the concerts, that the food tastes good, the drinks are generous, the staff is not just friendly and attractive but intelligent and knowledgeable. In fact, in order to work at a HRC, the company asks you to complete an application with includes a detailed employment history.
The company can afford to be selective in hiring new talent because the reputation of an internationally renowned food and beverage and entertainment group can be soiled quickly by the clumsy or thoughtless acts of one or two employees. The news media in 2009 is more aggressive than ever, and also, everyone with a cell phone these days also has photo capability and in many cases video capability; hence, a slip-up or embarrassing remark committed by a Hard Rock employee could do damage internationally.
How popular is the HRC in Asia? The company has many restaurants throughout Asia, and as a measure of how well HRC does going up against other theme restaurants, a survey was taken in Singapore's commercial district on that very topic. Published in the journal Cornell Hotel and Restaurant Administration Quarterly, the authors (MacLaurin, et al., 2000) surveyed 300 individuals in the Orchard Road commercial district, asking the participants to rank Hard Rock Cafe, Celebrities Asia, Planet Hollywood and House of Mao. "Hard Rock Cafe received the best ratings for the overall experience met expectations" (MacLaurin). HRC also had the "highest mean scores" for the quality and the taste of food and the highest mean scores for four components under the "service-quality factor."
On the subject of Hard Rock's other offerings -- are you looking for an upscale hotel in San Diego? The Hard Rock Hotel is within the confines of the entertainment Mecca of San Diego, the Gaslamp District. The rooms go for around $200 to $300 a night though there are packages for two nights that beat those prices in some cases. The list of amenities is a mile long, which doesn't mean anything for the person who can barely afford a Motel 6 room, but for a wedding / honeymoon night, or a special anniversary surprise, it's hard to imagine two rock fans having any more fun than at the San Diego Hard Rock Hotel.
The HRC is doing terrifically well in most locations, and the image of the chain has stayed strong. Perhaps the HRC should embrace more climate-change-related organizations, as well as those nonprofits that are assisting families who have lost their homes due to the economic downturn worldwide.
Brand Strategy. (2008). Hard Rock: Not only rock 'n' roll. Retrieved May 2, 2009, from http://www.brandstrategy.co.uk.
Funding Universe. (2000). Hard Rock Cafe International, Inc. Company History. Retrieved May 1, 2009, from http://www.fundinguniverse.com.
Hallock, Betty. (2009). Recession takes big bite out of L.A. restaurant business. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 2, 2009, from http://www.latimes.com.
Hard Rock. (2009). Corporate / History. Retrieved May 2, 2009, from http://www.hardrock.com.
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