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The Hard Rock brand is expanding its facilities, programming and merchandising to encompass a new demographic of future rockers: children. The Hard Rock Roxtars program, launched Oct. 1, extends to hotels, shops and cafes and caters to a younger audience through custom merchandise and play areas.
The program is headlined by a band of cartoon ambassadors whose images will be seen on merchandise, kids’ menus in Hard Rock’s restaurants and in Roxity Kids Clubs in participating Hard Rock hotels.
Vince Koehle, marketing manager for Hard Rock Hotels & Casinos, said some of Hard Rock’s hotel franchisees had been asking for a child-oriented program for some time.
“We realized there was an opportunity to target the family segment,” said Koehle. “We want to reach out to future hard rockers.”
Koehle said the Roxtars program was designed to expand Hard Rock’s customer base; diversify the brand’s selection of experiences to attract families; and instill a love for music in younger generations.
Roxity Kids Club DebutsThe children of families who check into participating Hard Rock Hotels will be given an activity book, as well as unlimited access to the hotel’s Hard Rock Roxity Kids Club, a play area with scheduled programming.
The first property to include a Roxity Kids Club is Hard Rock Hotel Ibiza in Spain, which opened earlier this year. The Hard Rock hotels in Shenzhen and Haikou in China, which will open in 2015, will also feature Roxity Kids Clubs. The brand plans to open kids’ clubs in the rest of its 20 hotels worldwide, although specific dates have not been set.
“We’re currently in discussion with our other partners in Mexico, Southeast Asia and throughout the U.S. on how to convert existing space [into Roxity Kids Clubs] or implement brand-new programming for children in their hotels,” said Koehle.
Roxity Kids Clubs will include plasma televisions, beanbag chairs, musical instruments and a workstation for crafts. Specific activity programming will be determined by each hotel.
“It’s designed to be a strong, musically-themed space with graphics on the walls,” said Koehle. “We’re going to translate the character’s energies visually across the room.”
The characters Koehle is referring to are the ambassadors of the new initiative — five unique cartoon bandmates including Sir Kingston, the British-invasion influenced lead guitarist, and Styler, the accompanying guitarist. Hard Rock conducted focus groups with families to ensure that these characters appealed to both parents and children. The life-sized costumed counterparts of these bandmates were unveiled at Hard Rock’s global conference in January 2014.
Hard Rock also rolled out a line of Roxtars merchandise featuring its cartoon ambassadors. The merchandise is currently available in all Rock Shops worldwide, including hotels and cafes. Merchandise options include plush toys, purses, notebooks, writing pens, collectible baseballs, dinner plates, T-shirts, souvenir cups and light-up drumsticks (one of the most popular items).
“It is product developed for and with young rockers in mind,” said Kitsy Phillips, senior director of merchandise for Hard Rock International. “Just as music spans all demographics, so do we as a brand.”
While Hard Rock is taking a strategic turn in catering to young audiences, both Koehle and Phillips see the move as an expansion of the brand rather than a change.
“We’re not changing the brand,” said Koehle. “We’re just taking advantage of the opportunity to speak to kids and those young at heart.”
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