The World’s First Hard Rock Café

Hard Rock Cafe

When I received my IBS Winter Two Program in the mail I was so excited. I quickly looked through it to see the company highlights. When I saw Hard Rock Café in London, I was really excited. I could not wait to learn all about their history and to step into the place where the café began.

What was it like?

Madonna at the Hard Rock CafeWhen I walked through the doors at Hard Rock Café, I was completely stunned by all the memorabilia inside. Eric Clapton and Pete Townsend’s guitars hung in the upstairs seating area still marking their spots. For those who don’t know, Eric Clapton and Pete Townsend did not like waiting for a spot whenever they arrived. So they each gave the café a guitar which hung over their seats to mark their spots.

Across the street from the café was the Rock Shop. Inside the Rock Shop, there was a downstairs area called “The Vault”. The Vault was neat to see because it housed years of memorabilia all in one area.

What I learned

Sex PistolsHard Rock Café’s history starts on June 14, 1971, when two American best friends, Peter Morton and Isaac Tigret, living in London wanted to open a burger shop whose mission was to create authentic experiences that rock.

From here, I learned about where the logo came from, how the company progressed through the years, and how they got to where they are today. The main thing I learned is how they market themselves. The entire operation is very psychological, which really piqued my interest.

Marketing Technique

Elton JohnThe main source of revenue for Hard Rock is its Rock Shop so they have to do everything they can to lead people in. Have you ever seen those booklets in a hotel with a bunch of coupons in them from a variety of businesses and attractions? Well, the one for Hard Rock says “Free Gift” at the top since the top is what people see when looking at all the booklets. Everyone loves a free gift, so naturally, people will gravitate towards it. Once they pick the booklet up, they will open it and see that it is a free gift with a purchase of 40 dollars.

Most people will be wanting a place to eat so they will think to themselves “Let’s go to Hard Rock and then go to the gift shop to get a free gift.” This will draw them in to look at everything in the Rock Shop and they will be more opted to buy more than just a meal, especially tourists.

David Bowie at Hard RockAnother way that Hard Rock markets themselves is by partnering with companies near the restaurant. Most will have a deal where if someone buys something at one of the shops, they will get a discount at the other. For example, in London, Hard Rock partners with Body Worlds which is an exhibition. Their deal is they buy a ticket into Body Worlds and get a “free gift” at Hard Rock. Again, this leads people to go into the Rock Shop to purchase gifts for themselves or others.

Most of the revenue from the Rock Shop comes from the T-Shirts and Pins with the locations on them. Most of us have all seen or own a Hard Rock Café shirt with the location of the Hard Rock we went to. This is because we all like souvenirs from places we’ve been to and Hard Rock took advantage of this. There is also a pin collector show that the Hard Rock in London hosts, where pin collectors from all over the world come and have a trade show. This is also a great source of revenue for the Rock Shop and the café.

My Takeaway From the Experience

Coutney at the Hard Rock CafeStepping into the world’s first Hard Rock Café was a lot more informative and interesting than I imagined. I saw the original pieces of memorabilia and learn how Hard Rock thinks outside the box to bring in revenue. We were also able to have lunch there, which was amazing. It was super cool to eat in the original Hard Rock Café! I never thought I would be able to do this.

I plan to use everything I learned from this experience and apply it to real-life opportunities. For myself, I would like to open up my own business. I will apply some of the techniques and mistakes I learned to help my future business growth. I want it to be the best it can be.

Courtney Reichert

School: University of North Carolina, Wilmington

"The best part about traveling is finding spots that a lot of people don’t know about and getting to experience what the culture is really about."

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