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132 – Suite Spot: Spotlight – Reverb Downtown Atlanta

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İçerik Travel Media Group & Ryan Embree, Travel Media Group, and Ryan Embree tarafından sağlanmıştır. Bölümler, grafikler ve podcast açıklamaları dahil tüm podcast içeriği doğrudan Travel Media Group & Ryan Embree, Travel Media Group, and Ryan Embree veya podcast platform ortağı tarafından yüklenir ve sağlanır. Birinin telif hakkıyla korunan çalışmanızı izniniz olmadan kullandığını düşünüyorsanız burada https://tr.player.fm/legal özetlenen süreci takip edebilirsiniz.

The Suite Spot takes a trip to Atlanta to visit the Reverb Downtown Atlanta by Hard Rock and uncovers how the unique property is one-of-a-kind and gives travelers a rocking guest experience during their hotel stays. From modern amenities like a reverberation room to a rooftop bar that sets your sights on the breathtaking ATL skyline, this episode covers all the exciting developments and why this destination should be your next booking.

Episode Transcript

Our podcast is produced as an audio resource. Transcripts are generated using speech recognition software and human editing and may contain errors. Before republishing quotes, we ask that you reference the audio.

Ryan Embree:
Welcome to Suite Spot, where hoteliers check in, and we check out what’s trending in hotel marketing. I’m your host, Ryan Embree. Hello Everyone. Welcome to another episode of The Suite Spot. This is your host, as always, Ryan Embree. If you’re watching us on YouTube, as you can tell, we are not in the content creation studio. So that must mean we are here on site, part of our Suite Spot Spotlight series. I’m here with Derek at the Reverb by Hard Rock Atlanta. Derek, thank you so much for inviting us here.

Derek Sumpter :
It’s absolutely my pleasure. Happy to have you here. Thanks for coming.

Ryan Embree:
Absolutely. And let me tell you, there’s just an energy walking into this place. We’re gonna talk a lot about this because this, this is really fits the bill with this series. And if you’re listening or watching us for the first time, our Suite Spot Spotlight series is all about highlighting those unique and historic hotels in our industry across the country. This property certainly fits the bill, but this is your first time on the Suite Spot. Yes, it does. We like to talk to hospitality professionals and hear their stories. We know it’s such a sometimes career paths. Take us all over the place where we start. Tell us a little bit about your journey to the Reverb.

Derek Sumpter :
Alright, sounds great. Well, I’ve been in the hospitality business since I was roughly 10 years old. Growing up my family had restaurants. So from the time I was seven, eight years old, I was washing dishes in my family’s restaurants. With that being said, went to college, was not planning on being in the hotel business. I happened to get a job as a room service waiter at a hotel, and kind of fell in love with it, fell in love with the day to day, fell in love with something different. I liked the energy of it all. And no two days were ever the same. So with that being said, just really kind of worked my way up the ranks and wound up here in downtown Atlanta at the beautiful Reverb by Hard Rock. So, you know, it’s been a long, it’s been a long journey. You know, Florida, uh, New York City, Little Rock, Arkansas, and I worked, did 20 years with Marriott. So this is kind of my first stint with Hard Rock, and with this brand, but definitely happy that I found them. They found me, I should say.

Ryan Embree:
So, yeah. Well, it certainly matches the energy. Let me tell you that the property does, and, you know, a couple couple things we always hear, right. Not expecting to be in the industry. Fell in love with the industry. Those are two common threads that we hear all the time from people that we interview. That’s true. Just like your yourself. And it’s just all about people serving people. And we need more of these stories. I talk to industry leaders all the time. We need more of these stories so we can share what a career in hospitality looks like. Because there are a lot of people out there that might not be thinking about a hospitality. They fall into it and all of a sudden you’re here at the reverb.

Derek Sumpter :
I would say most of the people that I know that are in the hospitality industry, were not planning to be in the hospitality industry before they started into it, you know, so it, it’s amazing how everybody, it just kind of draws you in, kind of sucks you in a little little bit, per se.

Ryan Embree:
Makes it so unique. Yeah, absolutely. And a unique experience and story. So let’s, let’s turn our attention to this property, right? Now very unique property, very unique. So much so. It’s the only one in the world. So tell us a little bit about the story of the brand and literally travelers are experiencing this for the first time ever. So tell us a little bit about that.

Derek Sumpter :
Well, the Reverb brand, as you just said, we are the only one currently in the world. Hard Rock was looking to get out of the, not really get out, but try something different. They’re known for their resorts and for their casinos right now. So they’re looking for a lifestyle branded hotel that really brought music, the music fan, local culture, local food, local wine, local drinks, everything all coming together in one gathering spot. Whereas Hard Rock hotels are really geared towards the artist, Reverb hotels are geared towards the fan. Like we do not call our guest guests, we call them fans. You check into Will call here instead of a normal front desk. So, with that being said, really trying to bring the fan experience to the forefront instead of the artist experience. So with that being said, 100% lifestyle, some will say boutique, I don’t necessarily call it boutique. I do call it select-serve, but with a full service tone, if that makes sense.

Ryan Embree:
Absolutely. And one thing I’m a fan of is the location for this. Now, if you’re watching us right now, if I look to my right, I could probably throw a baseball to the Mercedes-Benz. Well, maybe not me, but someone could. And, tell us a little bit about this unique location. You’ve got Rolling Stones this summer. You got college football playoff in 2025. The World Cup in 2026. You’re gonna be at the doorstep of the World Cup. Absolutely. Tell us a little bit about this location and the energy that it brings in the morning of a big event like this.

Derek Sumpter :
Oh, it is just, it is absolutely insane. We are 100% the closest hotel to the Mercedes-Benz Stadium. For those of you who don’t know, Mercedes-Benz Stadium is the home of the Atlanta Falcons. Um, it is roughly five years old at this point in time. It is the most echo friendly stadium in the world as we speak. Um, 90% of the power is, is, is off of, off of solar panels. So with that being said, we get a crowd here that is here to have a good time. Okay. We are not cookie cutter the energy on a game day, for example, on a football game day, if it’s a one o’clock game, I mean, it starts at nine o’clock in the morning. Okay. With people in the lobby, people utilizing our food and beverage services, going to the rooftop bar. We have DJs, we have live music. We like to consider ourself the place to be before any type of event that is in downtown Atlanta here. Um, you know, for example, tonight we have Nicki Minaj at the State Farm Arena, which is direct, probably 200 yards from the front door here. So with that being said, we attract the fan that is here to have a good time, that they want to come here to have fun. Right. And that, as you heard, when you walked in the lobby this morning, you could hear the music already blaring at 8:30pm in the morning, the music’s loud. And we just bring in energy. We want people to be awake, we want people to be energized, have a good time, you know, get, get going per se.

Ryan Embree:
So it, it almost feels like we’re so close. It almost feels like an extension of the stadium. And this is kind of a place where fans and concert goers and everyone kind of gets ready for this event, all kind of cohorts down to the stadium.

Derek Sumpter :
I mean, you could, you walk to the front door, it’ll take you three minutes. You know, so with that being said, we are in the primetime location and we appreciate that. So we each really try to put an atmosphere out there that is almost rivaling what they’re, what’s gonna happen in the stadium. You know, if no, per, if Taylor Swift was coming across the street, we’d, we’d have a Taylor Swift, you know, cover band playing in the lobby, you know? We really try to cater to around what’s happening across the street. Love that. So we, we really appreciate having it right there, that’s for sure.

Ryan Embree:
Yeah. Super smart. Now, as we know, not every single night is gonna host an event here. But even without an event, this hotel just feels like an experience. I mean, some of the amenities that we have, we’re in a room right now, where you can conduct a podcast on site if you wanted to.

Derek Sumpter :
Yes. And we are not the first ones to do a podcast out of this, out of this room. I can tell you that much right now. But, but absolutely, we really try to give the fan an experience where they’re on air. Okay. We want them to, to feel like they’re in a special type of place where they can one, be themselves, two, have a good time, and three, just really have everything come about. That is exactly what they want to do. I mean, we’ve had live radio broadcasting in here. We’ve had entertainers in here doing live podcasts and broadcast, and not just in this room. The whole entire lobby area is really geared towards broadcasting, having a good time and putting yourself out there.

Ryan Embree:
Well, there’s a sound booth as well that guests can come in and can play instruments.

Derek Sumpter :
Absolutely. You know, if, I mean, we have guitars set up in there. We have amplifiers. Uh, one of ’em is actually a reverberation room where we have woofers and all the seats and then the walls. So when you plug in your guitar and you do the downstroke on it, it’s gonna shake the, it’s gonna shake the whole building. So it’s pretty cool. Once again, it’s all about the experience. We want our fans leaving out this front door saying, that was something very unique that I’ve never experienced before. So I wanna come back, you know what I mean? We certainly see a ton of return customers coming back to this place whenever there’s something going on in downtown Atlanta.

Ryan Embree:
Another part uniqueness, speaking on that is your dining and that rooftop. That I just took our breath away when you gave me a tour of the property. Absolutely. Talk a little bit about that. The name of it I think is, is also very unique.

Derek Sumpter :
It’s an interesting name. You know, it’s RT60 is the name of our rooftop bar. I’m a little biased, but I will say that I think we have the best view of downtown Atlanta from our rooftop bar.

Ryan Embree:
It’s hard to argue.

Derek Sumpter :
We can see directly north all the way to, if you’re familiar with downtown Atlanta, our bar really looks north. It goes to, you can see all the way to Buckhead from, from our bar. Um, we have a wide open view where there’s a lot of hotels in downtown Atlanta that have rooftop bars. It’s very limited because of the buildings and everything is kind of blocked in. But we do have the wide open view up there, and I’m sure you’ll show some pictures when you’re here, when you’re going on, going online there. But, once again, it just brings another dynamic to the hotel. Once again, another piece of energy that we absolutely love. But RT60, it is you not, you would think it’s Rooftop 60. Which is absolutely not Rooftop 60. Okay. RT is reverberation tone. Okay. 60, which is the perfect tone. Okay. Which is the perfect sound. And there’s also a rooftop RT60 bar in New York City, and it’s kind of a Hard Rock thing, but we get it a lot where it’s rooftop 60, that’s kind of cool. It’s a 64, but people, I say, no, it’ Reverberation Tone 60.

Ryan Embree:
And, and I would encourage you to go online, certainly look at the pictures, but it doesn’t do it justice. I mean, you gotta come to the rooftop. You have to see that view for yourself, especially at nightly, I would imagine with the lights of the city and everything like that.

Derek Sumpter :
Yeah. It’s absolutely beautiful up there. Just when the, you know, daytime does not do it justice, just like Ryan said, nighttime is where it’s at because you get the lighting, you get the view of the stadium, the stadium changes, colors. It, it, and it’s just, it’s just a great scene up there, you know, and especially we love it because when, when fans are coming outta the stadium, they can see right. To the building and see that there’s actually action and stuff going on up there. So it’s really like a tidal wave coming out the front door of the building coming around the corner to the hotel. So, so it’s, it’s very good. It’s a good thing for us, and it’s a good thing for the brand for sure.

Ryan Embree:
It’s, it’s so immersive. This, this experience that you get here, I think that’s, that’s the word that really describes it. I mean, you can even go to your website. One of the features I absolutely love about this is you can get a Spotify playlist. You can, uh, from RT 60. But that’s just, you know, that really, just touches on the technology. And, and some of the cool features that you have here. We were in, uh, one of the, the roadie rooms. Yep. Uh, which are, is very unique as well. But talk to us a little bit about implementation of technology, why that was a priority with the Reverb brand.

Derek Sumpter :
Well, that’s, you know, once again, going after, we’re going after that, that demographic that is, that is tuned in. Right. They’re, they live off their phones, they live off their laptops. They live off their iPads. So we want everything to be integrated. So you mentioned Alexa. Alexa can control the lights. Alexa, can you, can we all know Alexa, right? Yeah. You can do whatever you want, right? Yeah. But that’s kind of what the new, the new travelers kind of expecting that these days. Right? Absolutely. And we kind of want it to be the forefront of it. You know, we are the only brand, as far as I know, that does have Alexas in all the guest rooms at this point in time. You know, I know Hard Rock is probably gonna be rolling them out to all the other Hard Rock properties here very soon. But we, we think it’s a great tool. Everything from, you know, suggestions for restaurants to playlists. You mentioned the Spotify playlist. It’s on there.

Ryan Embree:
Karaoke, was it?

Derek Sumpter :
We do have karaoke in the, in the, in the rodeo room as well. So, so once again, we want people not to just sit in their rooms and be, to be bored, per se. We want them to be hanging out, having a good time, jamming the music. When you check into the hotel, you check into your room, the music’s already playing in your room. That’s, and it just kind of sets the tone for the minute that you walk in the front door. Right. So we, we feel it’s very important. We have to have that. We’re a Hard Rock. We start our Reverb, but we are a Hard Rock, and I think the fan expects a little, a little more. If that, if that makes sense.

Ryan Embree:
It, it absolutely does. And I would even argue, you know, having something like Alexa in the room also brings that little piece of home with you. You know what I mean? So you’ve got this unique experience, but you also have this familiarity of being like, oh, I can put, you know, Alexa to play my favorite music as I get ready for the big concert. Or get ready for the game and then put my fight song on, on the Alexa. Something I typically do at the house. So, so another really unique thing, you had mentioned the Hard Rock, and taking little bits of the location. And one of the things I think is one of the coolest things is city guides. Talk to us a little bit about, for those who aren’t familiar, what the city guides are and how that can make the most of a traveler experience.

Derek Sumpter :
Absolutely. Well, a city guide is, what we’ve done is we’ve reached out to people that grew up in, not only in this community of this is, we’re located in Atlanta, but the neighborhood is called Castleberry Hill. But we’ve really reached out to local artists. I mean that, and that’s performers, um, singers, bands, uh, even graffiti artists, really asking them what they like to do when they’re in Atlanta. So you could strictly, you could go to Alexa and say, you know, I’ll give you an example of Ceelo Green, for example. You know, Ceelo Green will tell you what his favorite restaurants are, where he hangs out what his favorite record shops are, where he likes to buy clothes. You know, so it really gives you a personalized experience from the artist eyes of what they love to do when they’re in this area of town. Right. I mean, we have everything from heavy metal bands to hip hop artists to once again, painters and mural artists up there that kind of give you their take on the local city. So it kind of, once again, it immerses you into the local scene. Right. And it, and it, instead of going on your phone and googling what’s, what’s a good restaurant? Right. You can go to Ceelo Green’s favorite restaurant, you know, you can go to Post’s, favorite restaurant, you know. And so that’s, to me, that just brings another added layer of getting people comfortable of coming to, to where they are.

Ryan Embree:
That’s, yeah, that’s exactly what I was gonna say. I mean, coming for work or leisure, you know, the one thing you’re trying to do is experience what it’s like to be in that city and location. And these city guides are so cool. It’s, especially to have like a connection with maybe an artist that you really, really enjoy. And say, you know what, this is, this is so perfect. Like, there’s something special to that.

Derek Sumpter :
I agree. And like you said, it brings that local into the hotel, right? Yeah. And that’s gonna be unique to every Reverb hotel that is going forward. Wherever artists are from that specific hotel, they’re gonna have city guides there. So it is pretty cool. And it’s definitely unique to this brand. And I can promise you there’s no other hotel brands that have something like that, that effect right now.

Ryan Embree:
That’s a really cool, now being that you’re the only one in the world. It’s important for any hotel to tell their story. Y You know, prior to guests arriving. Even more so for the only hotel in the world. Like the Reverb by Hard Rock Atlanta. This is a digital marketing podcast. We talk all the time about using things like social media, uh, reputation sites to kind of set the experience, especially unique absolutely. Experience that you have here. So how do you use those two platforms to really maybe set the table before someone walks into that lobby?

Derek Sumpter :
Absolutely key to be quite honest with you. Um, from everything from our, our social media, um, just kind of setting the tone and setting the vibe of what you’re gonna get when you walk in the front doors here. You know, we we’re very specific about our social media posts are very pointed as food and beverage as, you know, kind of what’s going on across the street that, that way, you know. But as far as the reviews go, absolutely paramount. You know what I mean? We all know that’s the first thing we look at when we’re booking rooms. I know that I do, whenever I’m booking a hotel room or an Airbnb somewhere, I’m looking at the reviews of the property. And it’s key. I mean, if your garbage, it doesn’t matter what kind of product that you put out there, people are not gonna come. And we really rely on those and we really try to touch base with any fan that puts a review in negative or, or positive. We wanna get their feedback to know what we did wrong and how we’re gonna get better. Right. So absolutely paramount. We all know that people rely on those these days. I think these days more than ever. ’cause everybody lives off their phones. So we definitely live by our reviews and by our social media posts so that, ’cause nobody would know we’re here if it wasn’t for social media, to be quite honest with you. I, that’s still living in Atlanta. I still, people, I, when I tell them where I work, they say, where’s that? We still don’t know about it. You know? And so, so that being said, I, I point ’em right to the, to to our awesome little website that we have, our brand site’s. Very interactive as well. So big part of it absolutely huge for us. We, we rely on it just like any hotel or business does these days.

Ryan Embree:
Yeah. And you, you wanna set the right expectation because you, again, you have such a unique experience, you know, when that Taylor Swift concert comes to town or either SEC championships across the street. And you walk in and everyone’s kind of getting ready and geared up. Right? We want those good surprises as we talk about hospitality. Like, wow, I wasn’t expecting like, for it to be like this, not, wow. I wasn’t expecting it to like that.

Derek Sumpter :
And we get a few of those too, to be quite honest with you. But I would say our, our reviews and the word of mouth is genuinely positive about this property, to be quite honest with you.

Ryan Embree:
I, I can imagine. Yeah. Pretty outstanding. Well, let’s do some rapid fire here, Derek. Because as we start to wrap up the episode, uh, get to know you and the property a little bit more. I love these questions. Uh, I think I might know the answer to this one, but I’ll ask you anyways. Favorite view on the property?

Derek Sumpter :
Okay. Well, you would think, I’m probably gonna say RT60, but you’re gonna, you’re gonna be wrong there. Okay. My favorite, my favorite view is actually from our roadie room. Okay. If, if you’re in the living room section of our roadie room, the, the Mercedes-Benz Stadium is perfectly framed in the window there. So when I’m showing potential clients or potential guests in the hotel, I kind of always take ’em to that first. Yeah. ’cause ’cause once again, it kind of frames it out. But you can’t go wrong with the RT60 view. Obviously it’s beautiful, it’s all a downtown Atlanta. But if I had to pick one specific one, it would definitely be in the roadie room.

Ryan Embree:
But explain for those, for those who don’t know. Explain what the roadie room is, because they’re really, really unique room type.

Derek Sumpter :
Well, our roadie room is basically think roadie. You think tour bus, you think of people traveling on the road, right? So our roadie room is kind of designed after a tour bus. We have six stacked double, or our queen beds, I should say. And then it kind of looks like a tour bus. So if you’re walking down the hallway of a tour bus and you got, they got curtains on them, you know, so it’s a very unique room. It sleeps up to 14 people. Once again, roadie room, it’s, it’s a very unique room. And I can promise you there’s nobody, no brand that has a roadie room like that. Yeah. I know brands are trying to copy it right now. I know that for a fact. ’cause I’ve had a couple reach out to me saying, how did you guys put this together? But with that being said, it is definitely an experience that you’re not gonna get. I mean, the way I look at it is this, you’ve got a group of friends coming to see a concert at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium or coming to a football game. Yep. You got everything. You got two bathrooms in there. It’s just, it’s like a, your own private apartment slash party space. Yeah. That is all yours, karaoke machine. Um, once again, beautiful views of the city, you know, 80 inch television. It’s just a very great experience. It’s, it’s an outstanding room and I hopefully you’ll put some pictures in of it, but it, it’s really cool.

Ryan Embree:
So next question. Favorite dish on property?

Derek Sumpter :
Oh boy. I’m a huge fan of the pulled pork sliders. The chef, very nice. The chef does his own pork back there and makes his own. And, you know, our menu is very, it’s basically food truck inspired. Okay. So with that being said, everything’s kind of grab and go, you know, you know, one bite, one handful, not, you know, not big, massive plates of food. Everything is meant to kind of be transportable, kind of walking around eating it. But, but I would’ve to say my favorite dishes by far, the Caroline, the, the pulled pork sliders, our, our chef makes own barbecue sauce and smokes his own pork. So it’s pretty outstanding. Nice. To be quite honest with you.

Ryan Embree:
Oh, nice. Very nice. Yeah. Uh, favorite piece of art?

Derek Sumpter :
Oh boy. We have this beautiful mural that is in our, one of our meeting spaces over there that was made by a local artist in it’s Atlanta based all the way. It is absolutely gorgeous. And, um, I wish I could show you right now, but it’s got outkast on it for gosh sake, and I love Outkast. So there’s a lot of unique to Atlanta scenes on this mural. And once again, it brings Atlanta into the hotel.

Ryan Embree:
That’s why I love, love asking these questions. Is because, you know, some, some people might walk by a meeting space and not know the intricate details of, you know, so to being able to know, to pop in your head to see that, that, that mural. Really, really cool to know the background story behind.

Derek Sumpter :
It’s awesome. A local artist, you know. Very, very cool.

Ryan Embree:
Okay. So as we wrap up today, you know, I wanna get as the general manager. I think you alluded to this earlier, but I always ask hospitality people when they walk out of this, they check out at will call, right? Of your lobby and they walk out those doors. What do you hope as the general manager is their, what are they saying? What, what’s their experience? What, what do you hope that gets tell?

Derek Sumpter :
Well, first and foremost, I want them to say, wow. Okay. Wow. That was something that I’ve never experienced before. Okay. That was something completely different that kinda like you alluded to earlier, that I wasn’t expecting. I just want them to take that memory away that they had a wonderful wow experience that cannot be duplicated at any other property or any other hotel except for the Reverb brand. Right. And I kind of believe that we’re, we’re getting a lot of that, to be quite honest with you. You know, the smiles I see on the faces walking out here in the morning, and it feels like to me that they’re, as they’re leaving, they’re still having a good time because our, our team, our crew, you know, we don’t call our, we don’t call our staff members, staff or associates. We call them crew, you know? Yeah. We look for fun. We want our crew members to be having fun with the fans as they’re walking out the front door. So they are taking that away from them as they’re walking outta here. They’re, they’re, they’re still having fun. Even though they might be a little sad or a little bummed out that they’re checking out, we still want them smiling and laughing as they’re walking through the front door, because to me, that’s gonna be the last impression that they have of the property. And once again, we want them to come back.

Ryan Embree:
What a cool, what a cool job. It must be fun to be working. It’s here, it’s fun. And be a part of those experiences. So I wanna thank you and your team for hosting us here at the Suite Spot. Certainly check out the Reverb by Hard Rock Atlanta online, download that Spotify, look at the city guides. You can find all that information right there.

Derek Sumpter :
It’s all right there.

Ryan Embree:
Absolutely. And look, and then check out what the event schedule.

Derek Sumpter :
Right. And we also, and just to, to kind of, to jump on that a little bit, we also have a lady named Eve that’s on our website as well, that you can type in any type of questions. It’s all AI interactive. She will give you directions, she’ll tell you what’s going on in the city. She’ll tell you everything on our website. So you could be like, I’m coming in on April 14th, what’s going on in the city of Atlanta? You could type that all in with Eve and she’ll give you all that information right there. So you’ll cool. You can almost build your agenda and your itinerary before you even get to the city. So it’s, it’s pretty cool.

Ryan Embree:
That touches on that technology aspect that we talked about. Well, Derek, thank you again. The warm welcome at this. Appreciate you at this beautiful property, we’ll to you next time on the Suite Spot.

Derek Sumpter :
Absolutely. Thank you. Thank you.

Ryan Embree:
To join our loyalty program, be sure to subscribe and give us a five star reading on iTunes. Sweet Spot is produced by Travel Media Group. Our editor is Brandon Bell with Cover Art by Barry Gordon. I’m your host Ryan Emre, and we hope you enjoyed your stay.

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Manage episode 413020135 series 2338664
İçerik Travel Media Group & Ryan Embree, Travel Media Group, and Ryan Embree tarafından sağlanmıştır. Bölümler, grafikler ve podcast açıklamaları dahil tüm podcast içeriği doğrudan Travel Media Group & Ryan Embree, Travel Media Group, and Ryan Embree veya podcast platform ortağı tarafından yüklenir ve sağlanır. Birinin telif hakkıyla korunan çalışmanızı izniniz olmadan kullandığını düşünüyorsanız burada https://tr.player.fm/legal özetlenen süreci takip edebilirsiniz.

The Suite Spot takes a trip to Atlanta to visit the Reverb Downtown Atlanta by Hard Rock and uncovers how the unique property is one-of-a-kind and gives travelers a rocking guest experience during their hotel stays. From modern amenities like a reverberation room to a rooftop bar that sets your sights on the breathtaking ATL skyline, this episode covers all the exciting developments and why this destination should be your next booking.

Episode Transcript

Our podcast is produced as an audio resource. Transcripts are generated using speech recognition software and human editing and may contain errors. Before republishing quotes, we ask that you reference the audio.

Ryan Embree:
Welcome to Suite Spot, where hoteliers check in, and we check out what’s trending in hotel marketing. I’m your host, Ryan Embree. Hello Everyone. Welcome to another episode of The Suite Spot. This is your host, as always, Ryan Embree. If you’re watching us on YouTube, as you can tell, we are not in the content creation studio. So that must mean we are here on site, part of our Suite Spot Spotlight series. I’m here with Derek at the Reverb by Hard Rock Atlanta. Derek, thank you so much for inviting us here.

Derek Sumpter :
It’s absolutely my pleasure. Happy to have you here. Thanks for coming.

Ryan Embree:
Absolutely. And let me tell you, there’s just an energy walking into this place. We’re gonna talk a lot about this because this, this is really fits the bill with this series. And if you’re listening or watching us for the first time, our Suite Spot Spotlight series is all about highlighting those unique and historic hotels in our industry across the country. This property certainly fits the bill, but this is your first time on the Suite Spot. Yes, it does. We like to talk to hospitality professionals and hear their stories. We know it’s such a sometimes career paths. Take us all over the place where we start. Tell us a little bit about your journey to the Reverb.

Derek Sumpter :
Alright, sounds great. Well, I’ve been in the hospitality business since I was roughly 10 years old. Growing up my family had restaurants. So from the time I was seven, eight years old, I was washing dishes in my family’s restaurants. With that being said, went to college, was not planning on being in the hotel business. I happened to get a job as a room service waiter at a hotel, and kind of fell in love with it, fell in love with the day to day, fell in love with something different. I liked the energy of it all. And no two days were ever the same. So with that being said, just really kind of worked my way up the ranks and wound up here in downtown Atlanta at the beautiful Reverb by Hard Rock. So, you know, it’s been a long, it’s been a long journey. You know, Florida, uh, New York City, Little Rock, Arkansas, and I worked, did 20 years with Marriott. So this is kind of my first stint with Hard Rock, and with this brand, but definitely happy that I found them. They found me, I should say.

Ryan Embree:
So, yeah. Well, it certainly matches the energy. Let me tell you that the property does, and, you know, a couple couple things we always hear, right. Not expecting to be in the industry. Fell in love with the industry. Those are two common threads that we hear all the time from people that we interview. That’s true. Just like your yourself. And it’s just all about people serving people. And we need more of these stories. I talk to industry leaders all the time. We need more of these stories so we can share what a career in hospitality looks like. Because there are a lot of people out there that might not be thinking about a hospitality. They fall into it and all of a sudden you’re here at the reverb.

Derek Sumpter :
I would say most of the people that I know that are in the hospitality industry, were not planning to be in the hospitality industry before they started into it, you know, so it, it’s amazing how everybody, it just kind of draws you in, kind of sucks you in a little little bit, per se.

Ryan Embree:
Makes it so unique. Yeah, absolutely. And a unique experience and story. So let’s, let’s turn our attention to this property, right? Now very unique property, very unique. So much so. It’s the only one in the world. So tell us a little bit about the story of the brand and literally travelers are experiencing this for the first time ever. So tell us a little bit about that.

Derek Sumpter :
Well, the Reverb brand, as you just said, we are the only one currently in the world. Hard Rock was looking to get out of the, not really get out, but try something different. They’re known for their resorts and for their casinos right now. So they’re looking for a lifestyle branded hotel that really brought music, the music fan, local culture, local food, local wine, local drinks, everything all coming together in one gathering spot. Whereas Hard Rock hotels are really geared towards the artist, Reverb hotels are geared towards the fan. Like we do not call our guest guests, we call them fans. You check into Will call here instead of a normal front desk. So, with that being said, really trying to bring the fan experience to the forefront instead of the artist experience. So with that being said, 100% lifestyle, some will say boutique, I don’t necessarily call it boutique. I do call it select-serve, but with a full service tone, if that makes sense.

Ryan Embree:
Absolutely. And one thing I’m a fan of is the location for this. Now, if you’re watching us right now, if I look to my right, I could probably throw a baseball to the Mercedes-Benz. Well, maybe not me, but someone could. And, tell us a little bit about this unique location. You’ve got Rolling Stones this summer. You got college football playoff in 2025. The World Cup in 2026. You’re gonna be at the doorstep of the World Cup. Absolutely. Tell us a little bit about this location and the energy that it brings in the morning of a big event like this.

Derek Sumpter :
Oh, it is just, it is absolutely insane. We are 100% the closest hotel to the Mercedes-Benz Stadium. For those of you who don’t know, Mercedes-Benz Stadium is the home of the Atlanta Falcons. Um, it is roughly five years old at this point in time. It is the most echo friendly stadium in the world as we speak. Um, 90% of the power is, is, is off of, off of solar panels. So with that being said, we get a crowd here that is here to have a good time. Okay. We are not cookie cutter the energy on a game day, for example, on a football game day, if it’s a one o’clock game, I mean, it starts at nine o’clock in the morning. Okay. With people in the lobby, people utilizing our food and beverage services, going to the rooftop bar. We have DJs, we have live music. We like to consider ourself the place to be before any type of event that is in downtown Atlanta here. Um, you know, for example, tonight we have Nicki Minaj at the State Farm Arena, which is direct, probably 200 yards from the front door here. So with that being said, we attract the fan that is here to have a good time, that they want to come here to have fun. Right. And that, as you heard, when you walked in the lobby this morning, you could hear the music already blaring at 8:30pm in the morning, the music’s loud. And we just bring in energy. We want people to be awake, we want people to be energized, have a good time, you know, get, get going per se.

Ryan Embree:
So it, it almost feels like we’re so close. It almost feels like an extension of the stadium. And this is kind of a place where fans and concert goers and everyone kind of gets ready for this event, all kind of cohorts down to the stadium.

Derek Sumpter :
I mean, you could, you walk to the front door, it’ll take you three minutes. You know, so with that being said, we are in the primetime location and we appreciate that. So we each really try to put an atmosphere out there that is almost rivaling what they’re, what’s gonna happen in the stadium. You know, if no, per, if Taylor Swift was coming across the street, we’d, we’d have a Taylor Swift, you know, cover band playing in the lobby, you know? We really try to cater to around what’s happening across the street. Love that. So we, we really appreciate having it right there, that’s for sure.

Ryan Embree:
Yeah. Super smart. Now, as we know, not every single night is gonna host an event here. But even without an event, this hotel just feels like an experience. I mean, some of the amenities that we have, we’re in a room right now, where you can conduct a podcast on site if you wanted to.

Derek Sumpter :
Yes. And we are not the first ones to do a podcast out of this, out of this room. I can tell you that much right now. But, but absolutely, we really try to give the fan an experience where they’re on air. Okay. We want them to, to feel like they’re in a special type of place where they can one, be themselves, two, have a good time, and three, just really have everything come about. That is exactly what they want to do. I mean, we’ve had live radio broadcasting in here. We’ve had entertainers in here doing live podcasts and broadcast, and not just in this room. The whole entire lobby area is really geared towards broadcasting, having a good time and putting yourself out there.

Ryan Embree:
Well, there’s a sound booth as well that guests can come in and can play instruments.

Derek Sumpter :
Absolutely. You know, if, I mean, we have guitars set up in there. We have amplifiers. Uh, one of ’em is actually a reverberation room where we have woofers and all the seats and then the walls. So when you plug in your guitar and you do the downstroke on it, it’s gonna shake the, it’s gonna shake the whole building. So it’s pretty cool. Once again, it’s all about the experience. We want our fans leaving out this front door saying, that was something very unique that I’ve never experienced before. So I wanna come back, you know what I mean? We certainly see a ton of return customers coming back to this place whenever there’s something going on in downtown Atlanta.

Ryan Embree:
Another part uniqueness, speaking on that is your dining and that rooftop. That I just took our breath away when you gave me a tour of the property. Absolutely. Talk a little bit about that. The name of it I think is, is also very unique.

Derek Sumpter :
It’s an interesting name. You know, it’s RT60 is the name of our rooftop bar. I’m a little biased, but I will say that I think we have the best view of downtown Atlanta from our rooftop bar.

Ryan Embree:
It’s hard to argue.

Derek Sumpter :
We can see directly north all the way to, if you’re familiar with downtown Atlanta, our bar really looks north. It goes to, you can see all the way to Buckhead from, from our bar. Um, we have a wide open view where there’s a lot of hotels in downtown Atlanta that have rooftop bars. It’s very limited because of the buildings and everything is kind of blocked in. But we do have the wide open view up there, and I’m sure you’ll show some pictures when you’re here, when you’re going on, going online there. But, once again, it just brings another dynamic to the hotel. Once again, another piece of energy that we absolutely love. But RT60, it is you not, you would think it’s Rooftop 60. Which is absolutely not Rooftop 60. Okay. RT is reverberation tone. Okay. 60, which is the perfect tone. Okay. Which is the perfect sound. And there’s also a rooftop RT60 bar in New York City, and it’s kind of a Hard Rock thing, but we get it a lot where it’s rooftop 60, that’s kind of cool. It’s a 64, but people, I say, no, it’ Reverberation Tone 60.

Ryan Embree:
And, and I would encourage you to go online, certainly look at the pictures, but it doesn’t do it justice. I mean, you gotta come to the rooftop. You have to see that view for yourself, especially at nightly, I would imagine with the lights of the city and everything like that.

Derek Sumpter :
Yeah. It’s absolutely beautiful up there. Just when the, you know, daytime does not do it justice, just like Ryan said, nighttime is where it’s at because you get the lighting, you get the view of the stadium, the stadium changes, colors. It, it, and it’s just, it’s just a great scene up there, you know, and especially we love it because when, when fans are coming outta the stadium, they can see right. To the building and see that there’s actually action and stuff going on up there. So it’s really like a tidal wave coming out the front door of the building coming around the corner to the hotel. So, so it’s, it’s very good. It’s a good thing for us, and it’s a good thing for the brand for sure.

Ryan Embree:
It’s, it’s so immersive. This, this experience that you get here, I think that’s, that’s the word that really describes it. I mean, you can even go to your website. One of the features I absolutely love about this is you can get a Spotify playlist. You can, uh, from RT 60. But that’s just, you know, that really, just touches on the technology. And, and some of the cool features that you have here. We were in, uh, one of the, the roadie rooms. Yep. Uh, which are, is very unique as well. But talk to us a little bit about implementation of technology, why that was a priority with the Reverb brand.

Derek Sumpter :
Well, that’s, you know, once again, going after, we’re going after that, that demographic that is, that is tuned in. Right. They’re, they live off their phones, they live off their laptops. They live off their iPads. So we want everything to be integrated. So you mentioned Alexa. Alexa can control the lights. Alexa, can you, can we all know Alexa, right? Yeah. You can do whatever you want, right? Yeah. But that’s kind of what the new, the new travelers kind of expecting that these days. Right? Absolutely. And we kind of want it to be the forefront of it. You know, we are the only brand, as far as I know, that does have Alexas in all the guest rooms at this point in time. You know, I know Hard Rock is probably gonna be rolling them out to all the other Hard Rock properties here very soon. But we, we think it’s a great tool. Everything from, you know, suggestions for restaurants to playlists. You mentioned the Spotify playlist. It’s on there.

Ryan Embree:
Karaoke, was it?

Derek Sumpter :
We do have karaoke in the, in the, in the rodeo room as well. So, so once again, we want people not to just sit in their rooms and be, to be bored, per se. We want them to be hanging out, having a good time, jamming the music. When you check into the hotel, you check into your room, the music’s already playing in your room. That’s, and it just kind of sets the tone for the minute that you walk in the front door. Right. So we, we feel it’s very important. We have to have that. We’re a Hard Rock. We start our Reverb, but we are a Hard Rock, and I think the fan expects a little, a little more. If that, if that makes sense.

Ryan Embree:
It, it absolutely does. And I would even argue, you know, having something like Alexa in the room also brings that little piece of home with you. You know what I mean? So you’ve got this unique experience, but you also have this familiarity of being like, oh, I can put, you know, Alexa to play my favorite music as I get ready for the big concert. Or get ready for the game and then put my fight song on, on the Alexa. Something I typically do at the house. So, so another really unique thing, you had mentioned the Hard Rock, and taking little bits of the location. And one of the things I think is one of the coolest things is city guides. Talk to us a little bit about, for those who aren’t familiar, what the city guides are and how that can make the most of a traveler experience.

Derek Sumpter :
Absolutely. Well, a city guide is, what we’ve done is we’ve reached out to people that grew up in, not only in this community of this is, we’re located in Atlanta, but the neighborhood is called Castleberry Hill. But we’ve really reached out to local artists. I mean that, and that’s performers, um, singers, bands, uh, even graffiti artists, really asking them what they like to do when they’re in Atlanta. So you could strictly, you could go to Alexa and say, you know, I’ll give you an example of Ceelo Green, for example. You know, Ceelo Green will tell you what his favorite restaurants are, where he hangs out what his favorite record shops are, where he likes to buy clothes. You know, so it really gives you a personalized experience from the artist eyes of what they love to do when they’re in this area of town. Right. I mean, we have everything from heavy metal bands to hip hop artists to once again, painters and mural artists up there that kind of give you their take on the local city. So it kind of, once again, it immerses you into the local scene. Right. And it, and it, instead of going on your phone and googling what’s, what’s a good restaurant? Right. You can go to Ceelo Green’s favorite restaurant, you know, you can go to Post’s, favorite restaurant, you know. And so that’s, to me, that just brings another added layer of getting people comfortable of coming to, to where they are.

Ryan Embree:
That’s, yeah, that’s exactly what I was gonna say. I mean, coming for work or leisure, you know, the one thing you’re trying to do is experience what it’s like to be in that city and location. And these city guides are so cool. It’s, especially to have like a connection with maybe an artist that you really, really enjoy. And say, you know what, this is, this is so perfect. Like, there’s something special to that.

Derek Sumpter :
I agree. And like you said, it brings that local into the hotel, right? Yeah. And that’s gonna be unique to every Reverb hotel that is going forward. Wherever artists are from that specific hotel, they’re gonna have city guides there. So it is pretty cool. And it’s definitely unique to this brand. And I can promise you there’s no other hotel brands that have something like that, that effect right now.

Ryan Embree:
That’s a really cool, now being that you’re the only one in the world. It’s important for any hotel to tell their story. Y You know, prior to guests arriving. Even more so for the only hotel in the world. Like the Reverb by Hard Rock Atlanta. This is a digital marketing podcast. We talk all the time about using things like social media, uh, reputation sites to kind of set the experience, especially unique absolutely. Experience that you have here. So how do you use those two platforms to really maybe set the table before someone walks into that lobby?

Derek Sumpter :
Absolutely key to be quite honest with you. Um, from everything from our, our social media, um, just kind of setting the tone and setting the vibe of what you’re gonna get when you walk in the front doors here. You know, we we’re very specific about our social media posts are very pointed as food and beverage as, you know, kind of what’s going on across the street that, that way, you know. But as far as the reviews go, absolutely paramount. You know what I mean? We all know that’s the first thing we look at when we’re booking rooms. I know that I do, whenever I’m booking a hotel room or an Airbnb somewhere, I’m looking at the reviews of the property. And it’s key. I mean, if your garbage, it doesn’t matter what kind of product that you put out there, people are not gonna come. And we really rely on those and we really try to touch base with any fan that puts a review in negative or, or positive. We wanna get their feedback to know what we did wrong and how we’re gonna get better. Right. So absolutely paramount. We all know that people rely on those these days. I think these days more than ever. ’cause everybody lives off their phones. So we definitely live by our reviews and by our social media posts so that, ’cause nobody would know we’re here if it wasn’t for social media, to be quite honest with you. I, that’s still living in Atlanta. I still, people, I, when I tell them where I work, they say, where’s that? We still don’t know about it. You know? And so, so that being said, I, I point ’em right to the, to to our awesome little website that we have, our brand site’s. Very interactive as well. So big part of it absolutely huge for us. We, we rely on it just like any hotel or business does these days.

Ryan Embree:
Yeah. And you, you wanna set the right expectation because you, again, you have such a unique experience, you know, when that Taylor Swift concert comes to town or either SEC championships across the street. And you walk in and everyone’s kind of getting ready and geared up. Right? We want those good surprises as we talk about hospitality. Like, wow, I wasn’t expecting like, for it to be like this, not, wow. I wasn’t expecting it to like that.

Derek Sumpter :
And we get a few of those too, to be quite honest with you. But I would say our, our reviews and the word of mouth is genuinely positive about this property, to be quite honest with you.

Ryan Embree:
I, I can imagine. Yeah. Pretty outstanding. Well, let’s do some rapid fire here, Derek. Because as we start to wrap up the episode, uh, get to know you and the property a little bit more. I love these questions. Uh, I think I might know the answer to this one, but I’ll ask you anyways. Favorite view on the property?

Derek Sumpter :
Okay. Well, you would think, I’m probably gonna say RT60, but you’re gonna, you’re gonna be wrong there. Okay. My favorite, my favorite view is actually from our roadie room. Okay. If, if you’re in the living room section of our roadie room, the, the Mercedes-Benz Stadium is perfectly framed in the window there. So when I’m showing potential clients or potential guests in the hotel, I kind of always take ’em to that first. Yeah. ’cause ’cause once again, it kind of frames it out. But you can’t go wrong with the RT60 view. Obviously it’s beautiful, it’s all a downtown Atlanta. But if I had to pick one specific one, it would definitely be in the roadie room.

Ryan Embree:
But explain for those, for those who don’t know. Explain what the roadie room is, because they’re really, really unique room type.

Derek Sumpter :
Well, our roadie room is basically think roadie. You think tour bus, you think of people traveling on the road, right? So our roadie room is kind of designed after a tour bus. We have six stacked double, or our queen beds, I should say. And then it kind of looks like a tour bus. So if you’re walking down the hallway of a tour bus and you got, they got curtains on them, you know, so it’s a very unique room. It sleeps up to 14 people. Once again, roadie room, it’s, it’s a very unique room. And I can promise you there’s nobody, no brand that has a roadie room like that. Yeah. I know brands are trying to copy it right now. I know that for a fact. ’cause I’ve had a couple reach out to me saying, how did you guys put this together? But with that being said, it is definitely an experience that you’re not gonna get. I mean, the way I look at it is this, you’ve got a group of friends coming to see a concert at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium or coming to a football game. Yep. You got everything. You got two bathrooms in there. It’s just, it’s like a, your own private apartment slash party space. Yeah. That is all yours, karaoke machine. Um, once again, beautiful views of the city, you know, 80 inch television. It’s just a very great experience. It’s, it’s an outstanding room and I hopefully you’ll put some pictures in of it, but it, it’s really cool.

Ryan Embree:
So next question. Favorite dish on property?

Derek Sumpter :
Oh boy. I’m a huge fan of the pulled pork sliders. The chef, very nice. The chef does his own pork back there and makes his own. And, you know, our menu is very, it’s basically food truck inspired. Okay. So with that being said, everything’s kind of grab and go, you know, you know, one bite, one handful, not, you know, not big, massive plates of food. Everything is meant to kind of be transportable, kind of walking around eating it. But, but I would’ve to say my favorite dishes by far, the Caroline, the, the pulled pork sliders, our, our chef makes own barbecue sauce and smokes his own pork. So it’s pretty outstanding. Nice. To be quite honest with you.

Ryan Embree:
Oh, nice. Very nice. Yeah. Uh, favorite piece of art?

Derek Sumpter :
Oh boy. We have this beautiful mural that is in our, one of our meeting spaces over there that was made by a local artist in it’s Atlanta based all the way. It is absolutely gorgeous. And, um, I wish I could show you right now, but it’s got outkast on it for gosh sake, and I love Outkast. So there’s a lot of unique to Atlanta scenes on this mural. And once again, it brings Atlanta into the hotel.

Ryan Embree:
That’s why I love, love asking these questions. Is because, you know, some, some people might walk by a meeting space and not know the intricate details of, you know, so to being able to know, to pop in your head to see that, that, that mural. Really, really cool to know the background story behind.

Derek Sumpter :
It’s awesome. A local artist, you know. Very, very cool.

Ryan Embree:
Okay. So as we wrap up today, you know, I wanna get as the general manager. I think you alluded to this earlier, but I always ask hospitality people when they walk out of this, they check out at will call, right? Of your lobby and they walk out those doors. What do you hope as the general manager is their, what are they saying? What, what’s their experience? What, what do you hope that gets tell?

Derek Sumpter :
Well, first and foremost, I want them to say, wow. Okay. Wow. That was something that I’ve never experienced before. Okay. That was something completely different that kinda like you alluded to earlier, that I wasn’t expecting. I just want them to take that memory away that they had a wonderful wow experience that cannot be duplicated at any other property or any other hotel except for the Reverb brand. Right. And I kind of believe that we’re, we’re getting a lot of that, to be quite honest with you. You know, the smiles I see on the faces walking out here in the morning, and it feels like to me that they’re, as they’re leaving, they’re still having a good time because our, our team, our crew, you know, we don’t call our, we don’t call our staff members, staff or associates. We call them crew, you know? Yeah. We look for fun. We want our crew members to be having fun with the fans as they’re walking out the front door. So they are taking that away from them as they’re walking outta here. They’re, they’re, they’re still having fun. Even though they might be a little sad or a little bummed out that they’re checking out, we still want them smiling and laughing as they’re walking through the front door, because to me, that’s gonna be the last impression that they have of the property. And once again, we want them to come back.

Ryan Embree:
What a cool, what a cool job. It must be fun to be working. It’s here, it’s fun. And be a part of those experiences. So I wanna thank you and your team for hosting us here at the Suite Spot. Certainly check out the Reverb by Hard Rock Atlanta online, download that Spotify, look at the city guides. You can find all that information right there.

Derek Sumpter :
It’s all right there.

Ryan Embree:
Absolutely. And look, and then check out what the event schedule.

Derek Sumpter :
Right. And we also, and just to, to kind of, to jump on that a little bit, we also have a lady named Eve that’s on our website as well, that you can type in any type of questions. It’s all AI interactive. She will give you directions, she’ll tell you what’s going on in the city. She’ll tell you everything on our website. So you could be like, I’m coming in on April 14th, what’s going on in the city of Atlanta? You could type that all in with Eve and she’ll give you all that information right there. So you’ll cool. You can almost build your agenda and your itinerary before you even get to the city. So it’s, it’s pretty cool.

Ryan Embree:
That touches on that technology aspect that we talked about. Well, Derek, thank you again. The warm welcome at this. Appreciate you at this beautiful property, we’ll to you next time on the Suite Spot.

Derek Sumpter :
Absolutely. Thank you. Thank you.

Ryan Embree:
To join our loyalty program, be sure to subscribe and give us a five star reading on iTunes. Sweet Spot is produced by Travel Media Group. Our editor is Brandon Bell with Cover Art by Barry Gordon. I’m your host Ryan Emre, and we hope you enjoyed your stay.

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