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Back-of-the-House Hospitality Staff Communication System that Rocks

A New Approach for a Unique Venue

The Hard Rock Rocksino in Northfield, Ohio, had some unique challenges when it opened its doors in 2013. Not only did it have to deliver on the promise of the Hard Rock brand, which is synonymous with fun, excitement, and quality entertainment; it was also a racino, with the larger property encompassing both a gaming facility and a harness racetrack. There was no proven blueprint for this type of combined property. But one thing was clear: a well-informed, motivated staff would play a crucial role in making this first-ever Rocksino a success.

To help achieve their goals in rapid time, the Rocksino needed a back-of-the-house staff communication system that could be as hip and engaging as the rest of their property. They chose workplace digital signage from The Marlin Company, which offers a patented visual employee communication system with a proven track record in the hospitality industry.

The Marlin system provides the flexibility to deliver custom messages best suited for this new kind of Hard Rock property. “We didn’t fit a specific mold,” notes Andrew Seiler, Benefit Specialist at the Northfield Park location. “Yes, we have standards to apply that come from Hard Rock and Northfield Park Associates LLC, which also operates the adjacent harness racing track property. But as a first-ever Rocksino, we have a unique workforce and employee communication needs. So we acquired a solution that could help us handle issues specific to our property as well as reinforce our larger standards.”

Starting on the Beat

It’s imperative to welcome new employees the right way. Part of the Rocksino onboarding process involves an introductory benefits meeting. Attendance is mandatory. But it was always a challenge to get everyone to show up on the first try. Inevitably, managers would have to be notified when meetings were missed. This is where their Marlin digital signage made a noticeable impact. The 42” flat screen monitors hooked into the Marlin system display meeting notices throughout the property’s cafeteria and near a time clock. “I had the highest benefits meeting participation last month,” Seiler proclaims. Seiler, who is responsible for promoting health & wellness at the Rocksino, once had to remind managers that anywhere from 15-25 new employees missed benefits meetings. But with the visual reminders on the Marlin communication boards, that number dropped to only two absences in the most recent month.

Request Lines are Open

A large number of the Hard Rock Rocksino’s employees have direct contact with guests frequenting the property’s bars and restaurants, music theatres, racino, and gift shops. Wait staff, bartenders, ushers, security, floor managers and more are the first to see what makes guests happy and where there is room for improvement. Employee surveys are crucial for recording these findings for future action and getting feedback, recommendations, and requests from the employees themselves. The Rocksino’s digital signage system played a major role in getting the word out about the survey and encouraging participation.

First, it was determined that a very simple message in prominent rotation on their screens would work best for this survey campaign. Ample time (2-3 weeks) was allotted to ensure awareness across all shifts, including on-call staff that is brought in for larger music events. And the messages offered an incentive: The first department to achieve 100% survey participation would receive special recognition. The incentive was a perfect match for a communication system that brings employees together in a shared viewing environment. Departments rallied in a public way to encourage each other. And in the end: “We had 99% participation from all staff. That’s huge!” announces Seiler.

Reporting that Rocks

The Marlin digital signage system comes standard with a Dashboard View for administrators, providing an easy reporting feature of all the content that’s been posted to a screen or multiple screens. Reports can be exported into Excel format that can be passed along to other managers for review. This has come in handy at the Northfield site.

“We have three different unions and executives at all levels in our organization who may need to know exactly what was communicated to our staff and when,” states Seiler. “With the Marlin reporting feature we can say with certainty that a particular issue was addressed and here are all the facts going back as far as our original installation.” The Dashboard can also pull up a visual representation of the posted content, so there’s never a question about what the message contained.

The Dashboard also enables a keyword search for posted content. So if there’s feedback from a staff member about a message that needs to be repeated, a simple description of the piece makes it easy enough for the digital signage administrator to find and re-post.

All You Need is Love

The Northfield Hard Rock Rocksino has already achieved the highest overall market share for gaming devices in the state of Ohio. But one look at their Marlin digital signage screens reveals that Hard Rock places just as much emphasis on their philanthropic efforts. Messages are displayed that align with their mottos: Love All, Serve All; All Is One; Take Time To Be Kind; Save The Planet.

One particular posted message is entitled, “Imagine There’s No Hunger,” a nod to Rock ‘n’ Roll’s very own John Lennon. The message challenges Hard Rock staff to “stuff the bus” and donate non-perishable food items or to visit one of their restaurants where the cost of specialty soup will benefit their “Imagine” campaign.


Hard Rock Marlin Digital Signage

The Rocksino is also an energy-efficient property, which was designed to be as earth-friendly as possible. Their digital signage program ties into this thinking, enabling a vast reduction in the amount of paper required for printed memos and posters. It’s an easy way to reduce their footprint and “save the planet.”

For Those about to Rock, We Salute You

With the Marlin digital signage platform, the Northfield Hard Rock Rocksino has found a new way to rapidly deploy effective back-of-the-house communications, reach staff across multiple functions and shifts, meet the reporting requirements of multiple stakeholders, and give a lift to staff morale and the greater Cleveland/Akron community. Management can rest assured that as guests enter the property ready to embark on their ‘rock’ experience, a well-informed, in-tune staff is ready to roll.


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