Element Proof: Hard Rock Hotel & Casino's 200+ POS Terminals 'Take a Lickin and Keep on Tickin'

In an environment that demands versatility from its technology, the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas is sticking with a single model from a single vendor: the Gemini terminal from PAR Technology Corp. Nearly 200 Gemini POS terminals are already being used throughout the resort, in bars, restaurants, nightclubs, concert venues, shops and meeting rooms, providing solid performance inside, outside and poolside.

The Hard Rock has taken advantage of Gemini's flexibility to deploy the terminals in its newest locations, including The Joint, a multi-level concert venue with a capacity of 4,500 that opened in April 2009, and Wasted Space, a rock music club that opened in fall 2008. Several additional expansions that are ongoing through 2009 will require the deployment of additional POS terminals, so Hard Rock director of information technology Rob Kosier predicts he will be using as many as 220 Gemini terminals by the end of the year.

The Gemini terminals can operate either in a wired mode or wirelessly, and they are so easy to configure that non-IT staff have been trained to get them up and running in two to three minutes' time. This takes a big burden off of Kosier and his 11-person staff, as does the durability and consistent uptime that the PAR terminals provide. Kosier estimates the PAR terminals' ease of use allows his department to spend 75 percent less time setting them up compared to the time spent on its previous POS hardware. Man-hours spent on maintenance have decreased by an even bigger percentage; Kosier estimates they have dropped a full 80 percent with PAR versus the previous technology.

The terminals also work well aesthetically, with a sleek design and a small footprint that fit perfectly with the Hard Rock's look. It's no wonder Kosier sees PAR products in both the Hard Rock's present and its future: "All of our current POS terminals are from PAR, and every venue we open will always have PAR terminals."

Solid performance under tough conditions
It only took a short time for PAR to prove its worth. After testing the technology in November 2007, the Hard Rock deployed 134 terminals in February 2008, and it has since added about 50 more terminals in multiple locations around the 16.7 acre resort.

The Gemini terminals get their toughest workouts at the Hard Rock's "Rehab" parties. These are held poolside every weekend from April through October and are featured on a truTV reality show. "Rehab is a really big event: it's an all-day pool party that attracts 2,500 to as many as 5,000 people," Kosier explains. "Every year that we've held it, the event has gotten bigger and bigger. We've added new bar areas for the last four years, and every time we do, the new bar provides us with incremental revenue rather than taking business away from another bar."

Given Rehab's importance as a signature event and revenue generator, it's crucial that these poolside POS terminals stay up and running. The Gemini terminals have provided the uptime that the Hard Rock requires, even when operating wirelessly. "Remember that these terminals are out in the Las Vegas summer sun from 8 a.m. through 10 p.m. each night, placed on mobile bars that are busy all day, and the bars get pretty messy," says Kosier. "The terminals are being baked in the sun and drenched in the bar all day, and yet they continue to function."

In the event that there is a need to move a POS terminal or switch to a different unit, the transfer is easy to do. "The food and beverage staff doesn't have to call the IT department just to change over to a spare terminal," says Kosier. No special tools are required; staffers "just unhook three little cables and plug them into the new POS. The Gemini terminals are also light; you don't need two people to carry it away. One of the reasons we went with the PAR terminals is because they're so easy to set up."

Wireless option increases flexibility, agility
Switching from wired to wireless operation is also fast and simple; Kosier estimates it takes two to three minutes. "When we purchased the terminals we wanted them all to have the same capabilities, specifically the wireless operation capability," says Kosier. "As we've moved forward with our expansions, we include that wireless capability in every venue, because it provides more flexibility in how we use our POS systems." For example, in meeting or banquet rooms with multiple configurations for different events, the wireless option means POS terminals can be placed virtually anywhere rather than being limited to locations near wired access panels or requiring extensive cabling.

Hard Rock has set up wireless coverage throughout the property as well as at outdoor and poolside locations. "Anywhere we can get power, we can set up a POS," says Kosier. "With the PAR Gemini's wireless capability, we can set up different layouts to better accommodate our guests and avoid traffic logjams. Even if it's the middle of an event and we see that we're going to need more bars, we can add more terminals without causing a big commotion."

The Hard Rock is in the midst of expansions that will add guest rooms, meeting space, casino area, shops, restaurants and bars throughout 2009. The resort is also quadrupling the size of its pool area and adding food and beverage outlets as well as entertainment venues in this area. Both wired and wireless POS applications will be used in these outdoor areas.

Kosier has already deployed the Gemini terminals in the newest Hard Rock additions, including The Joint, a concert facility that opened in April 2009. The three-level venue can hold as many as 4,500 people and includes several VIP-style "skyboxes," The Joint hosts some of the biggest names in music, from Paul McCartney and Bon Jovi to the Killers, Kenny Chesney and Santana. Hard Rock is also using the PAR Gemini terminals in the Wasted Space, a rock music bar that opened in fall 2008.

The 'right look' for multiple locations
The sleek black appearance of the Gemini terminal has helped it look at home in both existing and new spaces throughout the Hard Rock resort. This aesthetic advantage was a bit unexpected, according to Kosier. "We didn't choose the PAR terminals for their look; originally we were more concerned with how they would wear and how durable and lightweight they are. But once we put them in our bars, we noticed that they really fit; they looked like they belonged there."

The difference between the PAR terminals and their predecessors was particularly noticeable in the Hard Rock's Center Bar, which is located on a raised platform surrounded by casino games. "The previous terminals were bulkier and stood out, and they took attention away from the bar itself," Kosier reports. "But the PAR terminals blend in and accent the bar. Their smaller footprint also allowed us more space for liquor on the back bar, so our beverage guys love that."

The terminals' flexibility, ease of use and aesthetic appeal are all important, but what's really made Kosier a fan is their durability and consistent performance. "The PAR Gemini terminals have given us the reliability that we expect in our environment, and eliminated a lot of the man-hours we had previously spent replacing or repairing terminals," he says. "That's been the biggest advantage for me."
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