Hit the Ground Running

I kept up with the plane’s momentum and hit the ground running as soon as we landed.  I had to rewind my clock to set myself on Pacific time, which kills me, btw.  So, while I landed at 9:18 Texas time, it was really 7:18 Vegas time.  My deadline was 8:30 – 8:45 at the Hard Rock Cafe to catch the tour.  I wanted to drop my bag at the hotel, register at the Convention Center, and make it to the Hard Rock in what was essentially an hour.  Plenty of time, right?

I felt so anxious the entire time, rushing to every destination.  And it didn’t help that I had the slowest cab drivers, despite my direction to “get me there as fast as you can.”  The broken red light right by the hotel didn’t help either.  Once we got to the hotel, I dashed inside, they had my room, I took my bags up, and then viva Convention Center.  That ride seemed to take an hour, but I got registered there and had a speedy cabby take me to the Hard Rock.  There, I walked back and forth between the cafe and the casino and across the street and everywhere in between and still could not find the tour-gatherers.  Of course, it turned out that there is a NEW Hard Rock Cafe on the strip and that’s where everyone was to meet.

So, I rode over to the new cafe – it was 8:50 by now – with two really nice guys, Phillip (from Arinc) and Seth (from Daktronics).  They both work for digital signage & network providers, were interested in new technologies, and asked me what “11th Screen” meant.  Good conversation.

Most importantly though, we all made the tour!!  The Hard Rock crew and the tour-gatherers welcomed us in, gave us some behind-the-scenes access, good talk with the GM, and then let us play with all of the technology.  And let me stress ALL of the technology.  It was almost overwhelming, how much interactive technology they have.  First, the centerpiece is the Rock Wall, a huge, 18×4 interactive, multi-user, multi-touch wall that holds 70,000 pieces of Rock & Roll memorabilia.

Then, they had quite a few Microsoft Surface displays, each with a well of content, too.

And if that weren’t enough, each booth had a small touchscreen that users could interact with and, among other things, search Hard Rock’s retail inventory.  The video is the least compelling, thanks to my direction.

As much as I love all of this sort of technology and all of these solutions, I think that they are missing an opportunity, primarily to drive additional sales.  There are no ties to ordering or purchasing anything in the cafe (including the retail store) from any of these devices.  I know that it is complicated to tie into larger systems like POS systems, but I feel like they could get much more (true) value out of these than they are currently getting. 

To their credit, their whole objective is to drive deeper engagement between the brand and the consumers, so as long as people are interacting with this technology, thus the brand, they are achieving their objective.  Aside from all this, two nuggets of information that I found interesting:

1. The average age of people visiting Vegas is 49 years old.  And Hard Rock believes that this technology is for this demo.  I actually think that the Hard Rock demo is younger than this and this could be the reason they are getting so much interaction.  And who wouldn’t want to play with these things.  Even if they are overwhelming.

2. Apparently, it only took 1 year from ideation to “turned on.”  I just can’t believe that.  Wow.

More of my adventure later….

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