Hard Rock Café Gets on a Roll With Database, CRM Efforts

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A Hard Rock Café sweepstakes expected to begin next week is the restaurant chain's latest effort to retain existing customers while developing new ones.


The sweepstakes offers a free trip to the 44th Annual Grammy Awards Feb. 27 in Los Angeles.


"We are trying to drive traffic to the site by sending an e-mail out to our customers, alerting them to the sweepstakes, and then hopefully drive online sales," said Kelly Maddern, senior director IT/online at Orlando, FL-based Hard Rock, whose parent company is the Rank Group PLC, based in London.


Visitors to the site also can enter the sweepstakes, as well as those who respond to the e-mail. Madern said she expects the sweepstakes to add at least 100,000 members to Hard Rock's 200,000-name online database.


Hard Rock's efforts to improve its database marketing and customer relationship management began in fall 2000 when it started working with a CRM system from San Mateo, CA-based E.piphany Inc.


"We really didn't have a firm understanding of who our customers were, what their preferences were," Maddern said. "We also lacked the technology required to collect information about our guests, as well as lacked a formalized customer service system within the corporate infrastructure and tools to effectively manage our guests' experience."


Before the change, Hard Rock "had 10,000 names in various sources: Excel spreadsheets, Word documents, flat files," she said. "It was a hodgepodge, and it was a mess."


Maddern said that with E.piphany, Hard Rock created a loyalty program with two distinct membership databases. One is Hard Rock's Pin Collectors Club, which is targeted to Hard Rock's most loyal customer base, the 6,000 members in its pin collectors' group. The other is its All Access frequent visitors program, which has 60,000 members.


Customers can join the programs by signing up on the company's Web site. They give general demographic information and can provide optional, preference-type information. Hard Rock then sends customers a membership packet and card. The first contact with the customer, however, is through a "Welcome to the Program" e-mail message. Maddern said the company regularly sends e-mail newsletters to its members that include offers for newly released merchandise and other specials.


Hard Rock launched a successful loyalty marketing campaign last spring targeting its All Access loyalty members called "Feeling Moody, Got the Blues."


The campaign, tied to the opening of the Hard Rock Hotel in Orlando, gave away four trips for two to the Moody Blues concert at Hard Rock Live Orlando! last April, including round-trip air travel and two nights stay at the hotel. The campaign also was tied to Hard Rock's 30th anniversary and its special line of anniversary merchandise.


The campaign, one of the company's first for members, asked members through e-mail messages to use their All Access loyalty cards or a special 30th anniversary card in any café to make retail purchases from March 7, 2001, through April 2, 2001. If they bought something in the retail outlet, they automatically were entered in the contest. If customers purchased a Hard Rock Cafe 30th anniversary T-shirt, they received 30 extra entries into the contest.


Maddern said the campaign netted Hard Rock $150,000 in merchandise sales.


"Because of our CRM system, we were able to track through to the point of sale, our data warehouse, and then through E.piphany, what the purchases were and who was making the purchases, and then randomly select a winner based on that," she said.


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