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Jamaica 2019 | MONTEGO BAY | INTERVIEW

Viking Productions has been in business for only around 12 years, and the company's ability to reach out and touch people through a wide variety of brands has been a key differentiator.

André Dixon
BIOGRAPHY
André Dixon has over 33 years of experience in the food, beverage, entertainment, human resources, and broadcasting industries. He studied linguistics at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey and later began studies in the hotel and restaurant industry in the Air Force. Later, he joined Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville as the Director of Operations in Jamaica and was promoted to COO of the company’s umbrella organization, Island Entertainment Brands. In 2014, he became COO of Viking Productions, a company with 51 establishments in the Caribbean. He is highly involved in the local community, holding positions on the St. James Police Civic Committee as Vice Chairman.

What have been the highlights of the Hard Rock Cafe in Montego Bay?

Our company manages three Hard Rock locations in Nassau, Grand Cayman, and Montego Bay. We opened the Montego Bay branch because it is a place of interest for Hard Rock International. The city of Montego Bay is becoming a big player internationally, and a Hard Rock Cafe location would be an attractive draw for the city. Since our chosen location had a pool and a beach, we knew it would be the most unique offering in the market. Our location appeals to more than just tourists, and we are in between two great resort hotels, Secrets St. James and Wild Orchid and Breathless Hotels, allowing us to attract a large audience. Another factor is that it is in the midst of the BPO community, which has thousands of employees.

What differentiates Hard Rock Cafe from other experiences?

Hard Rock Cafe offers great food, outstanding entertainment, and other forms of eco-tourism-based activity under one roof. In general, we offer a number of different activities in several different environments and spaces on the property. For example, we shuffle between live music and DJs and arrange themed activities as well as food- and drink-based activities throughout the week. We have the most extensive menu in Jamaica, which is filled with 24 pages of signature drinks, unique appetizers and salads, world-famous hamburgers and sandwiches, and a solid selection of mouth-watering desserts. We want people to have access to our legendary Angus Beef burger, an item that is available in all Hard Rock Cafes. Equally important, we were able to get permission from the corporate office to add some outstanding local items, such as seafood fritters, oxtail, and curried shrimp, among others. There are over 75 Hard Rock Cafes around the world, but the one in Montego Bay is the only one with a pool and a beach, allowing us to call it the Hard Rock Beach Club.

What have been your main achievements in the hospitality sector?

Interestingly enough, when we first opened here, I optimistically made a projection that 65-70% of our business would be from tourism or tourism-based activities, and the remainder from locals. However, 45% of our business has actually been from the local community, and we responded by tailoring more events and menu offerings to the local community. We have done several specialized programs that have attracted large local audiences, such as hosting the Miss Jamaica Universe competition and a couple of live concerts featuring major artists. This can be a perfect venue for hosting concerts outside, as we can accommodate more than 3,000 people.

What is the strategy behind Viking Productions?

Viking Productions has been around for more than 12 years but most people are not familiar with it because it doesn't operate as a brand of its own. The company only promotes and operates the brands and licenses that it owns. The heartbeat of the company is the Harley-Davidson brand, and at present, it has 24 Harley Davidson outlets in nine different countries in the Caribbean. We also have the license for the Bob Marley brand and operate the retail store at the Bob Marley Museum in Kingston.

What are your goals for 2019?

We have been growing aggressively over the past four years, doubling the number of locations from 25 to 54. Moving forward, we will spend more time on increasing same-store sales in 2019. We have spent a lot of time acquiring and building locations in some of the best ports in the Caribbean and are now focusing on maximizing revenue opportunities. We are committed to sending our personnel all over the world to establish personal relationships with our potential business partners. We intend to take the world by storm with great products and great service, so this is only the beginning.