You only get one chance to make a first impression, so it’s important to create an ambience that is music to guests’ ears.
Savvy accommodation providers use music to craft a positive and memorable impact while setting themselves apart from the competition – whether customers are checking into budget pods or luxury pads.
People react to music emotionally and with immediacy, so playing the right sounds using quality equipment can strike a chord which resonates with a guest throughout their stay, and beyond.
Background music may play second fiddle to what guests are primarily concentrating on; but get it wrong and the violins from Psycho start filtering into their consciousness.
The starting point for any accommodation should be quality speakers. But merely picking a few great songs to play on loop won’t cut it when catering to the diverse needs and tastes of lobby loiterers, restaurant diners and conference delegates.
Meeting rooms, bars, pool areas and lobbies all present a different aesthetic at different times of the day and week – and require soundtracks to match.
Looking at a venue’s brand, whether relaxed and nature-based or hip and urban, provides a starting point from which to continually fine-tune the music to match the conditions.
Time of day, energy levels and experiences all influence those choices and the music should be programmed to match guests’ moods – while reflecting the accommodation’s brand values.
A number of suppliers specialise in providing streamed music for hotels for a set monthly fee which varies according to requirements.
Some work with venue managers to craft a bespoke program based around a brand and its differing daily requirements, providing all the equipment needed for streaming as well as taking care of licencing requirements.
Or for a lower monthly fee, others will stream professionally-created playlists to a venue advert free and without repetition for 24 hours a day.
Those playlists continually evolve, and managers creating an online user profile can select their venue and chosen rooms and ‘drag and drop’ a playlist to begin playback within their accommodation.
The unsung hero in creating a perfect ambience is the sound system – or more specifically, the sound quality.
As Jonathan Neil of Edwards Sound Systems explains; “Subconsciously we all know that when music sounds great, it feels right.
“There are numerous studies on how our perception of the flavour of food and drink is influenced by not only the volume of music, but the sound quality.
“A cheap pair of speakers hooked up to an under-powered amplifier will only cause discomfort when it gets turned up, and there is no doubt that distorted sound becomes stressful to listen to and part of the background noise when having a conversation.
“It will make you feel irritated and unwelcome.
“A common misconception is that a speaker is just a speaker – I’ve heard industry ‘professionals’ say that, and it is a very sad comment.
“There is actually a lot of sophisticated engineering in the speaker transducers, from the copper wire used in the speaker coils to the material and design of the speaker cabinet, and this all determines how faithfully the sound waves reach your ears.
“It also determines how well the speaker can cope when the sound gets turned up.
“With a low-quality cabinet, the sides of the speaker cabinet will flex in and out with the bass. You’ll find all the serious manufacturers using birch plywood as it doesn’t warp and degrade over time with moisture and is lighter and stronger.
“Another factor in sound quality is reverberation and reflection. Try to place speakers where the sound covers only the audience, not directly facing walls or windows and other hard surfaces and try to ensure that two or more speakers are not covering the same area (as much as practical).
“Carpet, curtains, soft furnishings and wall coverings will absorb a lot of problem reflections and soften any harshness, and can go a long way to improving perceived sound quality.
“A bar or venue is different from your home where you can sit right in the ‘sweet spot’ between speakers. In a venue you are unlikely to have an equal distance between the listener and all the speakers – delays from sound arriving from multiple speakers and reflective surfaces have an impact on the coherence of the sound and again make it hard to hold a conversation and enjoy the ambience.
“You don’t have to pay a fortune for great speakers as the audio manufacturers are competitive and are always applying technological advances to stay efficient and keep the cost as low as possible.
“You do get what you pay for in most cases, so if you are streaming music please choose the highest bitrate, or uncompressed, music – and give your speakers a head start.”