After sight, hearing is the second most important way we make sense of the world around us. It is one of our primary senses, yet it is a sense that hoteliers often fail to make full use of.
Music is often dealt with as an after-thought in a hotel environment. It’s amazing how often staff are allowed to put on their own ‘off-brand’ or inappropriate music, or how often managers resort to the clichéd ‘chill out’ CD or the default pianist who is tasked with adding life to a hotel.
Bespoke music profiling is a growing trend in the luxury and boutique sectors
The truth is if the sound of a property is carefully considered and well executed it can add tremendously to the guest’s experience and even keep them coming back for more. This is why bespoke music profiling is a growing trend in the luxury and boutique ends of the hotel market. Independent high-end properties and luxury hotel brands are increasingly realizing that they need to appeal to all the senses in order to attract and retain guests. Savvy hoteliers are investing in good quality audio systems and having their music content carefully curated by experts in order to reflect their brand personality, and to encourage longer dwell times in key F&B and spa outlets.
Music needs to be thought through and controlled in any branded environment whether it is a hotel, restaurant, spa or retail space. Not to do so is to miss a trick and the opportunity to maximise the overall customer experience as well as takings.
Branding positioning through music
Music can be used to position a brand and speak relevantly to different audiences. For instance barefoot luxury hideaways need a different signature sound to hip urban hotels. Iconic luxury institutions such as The Savoy can reference their heritage through music, whilst country house hotels can sound as rural and idyllic as their location demands.
By using music creatively, music consultants can tailor different genres and tracks to reinforce the brand and concept. Aligning a property with the right type of music content helps to reinforce the brand by creating a clearer association between artist and brand, which today’s music savvy guests are all too aware of. Get the music wrong and you will be sending the wrong message to your target audience. Get it right and they are all the more likely to remember your brand.
How does music affect guests and a hotel’s revenue?
We have all been affected by the power of music. It impacts us in many ways most notably emotionally and physically. It can conjure up memories, or excite us, make us pensive, or even give us the nerve to get up and dance. It is one of the key tools central to creating a great atmosphere. Used effectively it can be used to add to the perfect arrival experience in a lobby; to give a restaurant a warm inviting feel; to support an F&B concept; or give a bar a real buzz and sense of occasion. It can enhance the guest experience and increase dwell time and spend. A poorly thought through sound will result in a generic, dull, or even annoying atmosphere, whereas an inspiring music identity can be a real talking point. This is why luxury brands such as Per AQUUM and COMO Hotels are using music to add drama to F&B stories, or to give destination bars a competitive edge.
Hitting the perfect note
However it’s still not good enough to simply employ a DJ in the corner of a bar or play yet another Buddha Bar compilation. People’s music tastes today are far more sophisticated, and content needs to be carefully selected and styled to ensure it is the right fit for the brand, the audience, the area it is played in, and even the time of day.
What’s more it needs to be regularly updated to keep the brand sounding fresh and relevant. This means music needs to be carefully controlled. Long playlists should be designed for different areas and different parts of the day, and managed digitally. Some music consultants will offer this as part of their service. At Music Concierge we are increasingly given the remit to design an overall signature music direction for a brand, and then make sure the perfect atmosphere is created and maintained throughout each property and each individual F&B or spa concept.
Some hotels want to take this further with branded digital or physical compilation albums created for retail or promotional activities - a part of the experience guests can take home with them. Others are increasingly innovating by hosting unique live performances with artists that fit the brand, or through thought provoking sound installations conceived in the hotel as part of its art collection.
Yet whatever end of the market a property occupies, there are basic fundamentals that a hotel needs to get right when using music. If it’s not right for the brand or audience, if it does not fit the time of day or area, if it is clichéd or not regularly updated, it’s likely to be irritating and a real turn off for your customers. Instead music can be embraced and used creatively to add an inspiring sense of discovery, an exotic twist, a tangible air of excitement, or simply a wonderfully relaxing atmosphere. Atmosphere and music are important parts of what makes a hotel or travel experience memorable or indeed great, and therefore should not be ignored.
Rob Wood is the founder and creative director of music consultancy service Music Concierge which designs and supplies bespoke playlists based on brand personality to hotels around the world. For details see www.musicconcierge.co.uk