By Amanda Bates
Because of its unique venues and suite of on-site amenities and services, the Rocksino is also gaining popularity as a corporate event space.
Mark Birtha, the president of Hard Rock Rocksino, ensures that the property stays true to the Hard Rock brand in creating memorable experiences. Birtha joined the Hard Rock team in 2014, with more than 20 years as a gaming and hospitality executive under his belt. Previously, he held leadership roles at Mirage Resorts, Las Vegas Sands, Marriott International, Sol Casinos, and Station Casinos.
He is responsible for the operations and development of the Rocksino, its nearly 800-person staff, and the 3 million guests that visit annually. Included are corporate events, which have ranged in size from 10 people to 2,000.
For smaller meetings of up to 14 people, Kosar’s Wood-Fire Grill offers a warm, tasteful setting. Browns fans may find themselves nostalgic over the Bernie Kosar memorabilia that surrounds the space. In the summer the outdoor patio offers space to accommodate another 50 people.
The Hard Rock Rocksino’s entertainment showroom, Club Velvet, seats up to 300 guests. This space plays host to a variety of different corporate events, including meetings, smaller trade shows, and team-building sessions.
“A meeting planner can have the entire space dedicated to them,” Birth says of its versatility. “All the audio/visual components are already built into the room, so it’s a very comfortable, intimate, and expertly decorated venue.”
The Rocksino’s main concert venue, Hard Rock Live, can also be customized for large groups. With a capacity of 1,800, it has been used for trade shows, charity events, concerts, and gala dinners. That does not include the Northfield Park racetrack space next door, which houses another 200,000 square feet of potential indoor/outdoor event space.
Birtha maintains that while Hard Rock Rocksino’s 2,300 gaming machines is the core of the property’s business, it has received recognition for its dining and live music offerings.
In April the Rocksino was awarded first place in seven categories of the Akron Beacon Journal’s “best of” awards. This included Best Regional Gaming Venue, Best Area Attraction (Non-Sporting), Best Live Music, and a trio of awards for Kosar’s Wood-Fire Grill (Best Fine Dining, Best Seafood, and Best Steak).
“Our name and our brand have really allowed us to capture a much wider audience of participants.”
Among those participants, from a corporate event standpoint, have been Sherwin Williams, which held a trade show at the Rocksino at which Bernie Kosar was a VIP attendee. Earlier this year The Links held its annual black-tie gala at the Rocksino. Many readers of this magazine also celebrated at the Rocksino in March at the annual Connectors Choice Awards.
Birtha and his team have also worked with organizations such as Akron Children’s Hospital, Susan G. Komen, and Lifebanc to put on charity events.
“We’ve entertained from small to large, from social to military to educational to fraternal to medical,” Birtha says. “We cater to everyone.”
Bringing the Hard Rock brand to life for corporate events goes beyond autographed guitars and album art, although that is part of creating the brand’s iconic rock-n-roll vibe.
Birtha explains that the memorable, one-of-a-kind opportunities offered by the Rocksino start with elevating the guest experience. His catering and event manager and her team program hundreds of events a year, many of them customized.
“We have a service staff that’s absolutely passionate and dedicated to going above and beyond,” Birtha says. “We want people to have an experience that they’ve never had before.”
Having such a recognizable brand has also helped the Rocksino’s appeal reach beyond the Northeast Ohio corporate world. Birtha says that they’ve been fortunate enough to bring in companies from around the state, and even regional businesses from out of state, for events.
He hopes to continue this expansion and solidify Rocksino’s place as a premiere meetings destination in the region. It starts with introducing individuals to the potential of the space – whether that is at a comedy show, rock concert or just on the gaming floor.
Once they’ve visited, Birtha believes that more and more people will want to hold their business or group events at the Rocksino.
“Our tagline is, ‘Find Your Rhythm,’“ he says. “It’s about each individual finding their own experience.”
Commuters might have seen Rocksino’s billboards dotted around Cleveland’s freeways with the Rocksino’s other tagline: Vegas Experience. Ohio Address.
Whether it’s a private party or a networking event for hundreds, Hard Rock Rocksino aims to deliver that Las Vegas wow factor, high-quality experience, and diverse lineup of entertainment options.
For more information: hrrnp.com