It’s no secret that offering an outstanding guest experience is the ultimate goal of every hotelier. We know that it’s a decisive factor in guest loyalty, but it has also become one of the major measurement indicators of business success in hotels today.
With everyone trying to exceed guest expectations, one aspect of the experience is often overlooked: hearing, our fifth sense. In an inspiring roundtable moderated by our Founder & CEO, Clay Bassford, three industry experts discuss how sound and music specifically play a role in elevating the hotel guest experience.
Read on for insights you can apply in your own work from Vaughn Davis - General Manager, Dream Hotel Hollywood; Sara Osias - Head of Experiences, Auberge Resorts; and Justin Wilson - Director of Food & Beverage, SLS Brickell, Miami.
The Value of Music
For Sara Osias, music is all about creating a considered space that entices the five senses, with music being the core. It brings light and vibrancy to a place, even acting as the one thing that ties it all together. Similarly, as Vaughn Davis points out, music can be used to set the tone for the day according to time and situation, and helps to convey the message a brand wants to share with its guests.
In the experiential economy in which we’re currently living, any touchpoint has tremendous potential to be leveraged in order to differentiate a brand or, as Justin Wilson puts it, “create an overall vibe” for each space and reinforce its concept, along with more obvious elements such as uniforms and decor. This rings especially true for luxury lifestyle offerings, as it brings an added value in personalization efforts.
Music touches us all as humans and therefore, apart from setting the scene for a guest’s stay at a hotel, it imparts the right energy and promotes the company culture and tone to employees on a daily basis.
Additionally, a curated sonic experience can be used as a part of the pre- or post-experience phases, starting the guest journey even before they arrive at your property, and “unlocking a shift from work mode to vacation mode”, according to Sara.
A Tailored Experience
One of the main ways to offer an authentic stay to a guest is by localizing the guest experience. Both small and large hospitality operators strive to infuse the destination’s identity into their offering, and music is a main avenue for showcasing local culture. Likewise, celebrating current events, local festivals, or seasons with a specially curated soundtrack imparts attention to detail and relevance.
At Dream Hotels, a small but impactful way of using music to lift a guest’s journey with the brand is to personalize the playlist in their room according to known preferences, or to surprise them according to their taste, such as by arranging vinyls of a favorite artist as a welcome amenity for a VIP.
Common to all three panelists is the firm certainty that music and sound is an integral part of curating the experience and setting the mood as they intend, creating a memorable connection between guest and brand. Music matches each space and every part of the day, gets guests excited about what’s coming next, and is essential to creating the ambiance of all parts of the experience - be them physical or digital.
The ROI of Background Music
From a business perspective, a project must be worth its salt in order to be implemented. As with any other initiative, part of evaluating that worth is is by measuring ROI. But how can we do that with something as subjective as music and guest experience?
Vaughn suggests keeping track of viral videos or posts that feature a mention of your playlists, or even of the aforementioned personalized vinyl amenity, so that quantifiable values such as reach or impressions can be measured.
For Justin, more concrete insights can also be gleaned from financial results such as increase in length of stay during a particular event, or an increased average check or sales percentage brought on by having a guest DJ. He also relies on guest feedback and listening to social media sentiment.
Conversely, Sara argues that the success of an investment can be determined qualitatively: with guest surveys, by how much guests asked staff members on property about the playlist, or by employee satisfaction with the workplace environment owing to the quality of the music during their shifts.
It is important to understand how vital sound and music are to the experience, and hoteliers should find new ways to weave this into their offerings seamlessly. There are many opportunities to use sound to engage the fifth sense and improve a guest’s stay.
Music can be used to represent different groups and cultures, bringing inclusivity and diversity to the guest experience. Showcasing and partnering with local talents fosters a relationship between the hotel and its ecosystem, which benefits guests, gives back to the community, and encourages locals to become guests themselves.
Flexibility and quick feedback loops are also helpful in constantly tailoring and upgrading playlists. Having competent curators is the first step, and using technology that facilitates daily adjustments according to the situation, or even the profile of in-house guests, is the way to go. Current technology advancements are headed towards immersive experiences, such as in the multiverse, and sound plays an integral part in a successful experience. Tools like geofencing are also worth exploring for their value in personalizing a guest’s stay, particularly for return customers.
Sounds trigger memories, set the mood, create bonds, and define how we perceive and remember a situation. Whichever way you choose to enhance your guests’ experience, using sound and music should be a part of the plan, above all if your goal is to create a connection with the guest and effectively shape their experience before, during, and after their stay.
If you’d like a hand in developing or strengthening your own brand’s Music Identity, click here to get in touch. We’d love to chat.