IF BOOKING BANDS, creating customized playlists and teaching guests how to DJ sounds like a job that’s too cool to actually exist, then you haven’t met Matt DuFour, director of digital media and vibe at the Hard Rock Hotel San Diego. There, DuFour dabbles in a little bit of everything: He’s responsible for the hotel’s overall arrival experience, including the music that guests hear upon entering the hotel, as well as for booking music acts and directing the Hard Rock’s wide-ranging digital media campaign.
As DuFour sees it, music is one of the Hard Rock Hotel’s luxury amenities and it’s up to him to infuse it with what he describes as "just the right amount of fun." Last year, he spearheaded the Platinum Rock Star Experience, a program for groups that includes red-carpet entrances, as well as step-and-repeat photo opportunities during events, custom-designed commemorative tour posters and Picks and Mix breakout sessions, coffee breaks or happy hours where attendees can learn to play the guitar or mix like a pro DJ. He even helps groups turn their executives into rock stars by building custom memorabilia cases with items iconic to each company, like the CEO’s jacket.
At a reception in January hosted by life sciences company Cisbio, DuFour taught the group how to DJ and mix music, and also had the hotel’s Fender guitars on hand for the rock aficionados. During a 2013 conference for Evolution Hospitality-the operator of Hard Rock Hotel San Diego as well as two dozen other California properties-DuFour created an interactive Rock ’n’ Roll Jeopardy team-building activity. "Music is the Hard Rock’s No. 1 brand differentiator," he says.
"I try to create a completely customized experience based on music tastes." In addition to his work with groups, DuFour also curates two monthly music series at the hotel: Mary Jane’s Underground, featuring up-and-coming local musicians, and Third Thursdays, featuring national acts and bigger-name local artists in partnership with legendary San Diego music venue the Casbah and radio station 91X. Artists who have rocked out at the Hard Rock Hotel San Diego include Yacht, MNDR, Best Coast and Little Hurricane. It’s worth repeating: Cool gig!