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Rockin' in the Free World

Jon Lucas, Executive Vice President of Operations, Hotels & Casinos, Hard Rock International

Rockin' in the Free World

Managing the operations of multiple hotel and casino properties is enough responsibility in itself, but when you add the iconic Hard Rock brand, its legendary music memorabilia with a value in the tens of millions of dollars, and rapid international market expansion, it is easy to see why Jon Lucas has big responsibilities in 2016.

“There is now a responsibility for gaming properties to be a leader throughout the entire community, and not just our industry,” says Lucas, who previously managed Hard Rock’s Northfield, Ohio racetrack and casino. “It is something that has changed in a good way, and I learned that lesson firsthand at Imperial Palace when we helped in rebuilding the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina.”

It is this wide array of professional experiences that Lucas is drawing upon to successfully execute Hard Rock International’s 2016 strategy, which includes opening new properties in Dubai and Shenzhen, China.

“Our main focus in 2016 is to grow our hotel and casino division from a management company standpoint,” says Lucas. “We are going to continue to work with our business development department to get deals to the finish line to add to our portfolio.”

Lucas anticipates that Hard Rock International will introduce four or five hotels to the market in 2016, whether it be new properties like in Dubai and China, or converted casino properties in the domestic market.

“With the casino market being so saturated, your properties need to have differentiators onsite to draw guests away from the competition,” says Lucas. “We are fortunate that entertainment and music are in our DNA, which helps makes us a true destination resort.”

An important part of Hard Rock’s destination experience is making sure that their food and beverage establishments offer premium dining options and service, and do not act as just a loss leader to attract guests to the casino.

“Our restaurants need to operate as profitable stand-alone entities,” says Lucas. “There are so many choices, you have to give guests a reason to choose you over the competition.”

Despite his competitive nature to create distance between his Hard Rock properties and their peers, Lucas enjoys the acceptance the entire gaming industry has received in the last two decades, which has provided the backdrop for Hard Rock International’s anticipated 2016 activity and acquisitions.

“We take pride in the legitimacy of our businesses and the active roles and responsibility we take in our community,” says Lucas. “We like to lead by example and create a positive environment for everyone around us.”