Music Matters: Rightsify’s review of the influence of music on hotels’ atmosphere

Back in March, we introduced you to a new way to fill your hotel with atmospheric, location-appropriate music to create the right environment for your hotel using Rightsify, a new customised music platform. Now Rightsify has released a new report explaining exactly how music can stimulate your business.

Everybody understands that music affects us profoundly. It alters our mood and creates or triggers rich memories. It is no wonder then that music has a big impact on guests when implemented in hotels. In this report, we will shed some light on the workings of music in the hospitality business. We will share scientific insights on the influence of music and translate these into some practical do’s and don’ts.

With the right music, hotels have an opportunity to create the exact environment they want throughout an entire property and can even boost sales and brand enhancement – Alex Bestall, Rightsify

The Atmosphere

Hotels are in the experience business. From the moment guests check in until they leave a review of their stay on social media, it is all an experience-based customer journey. It is tempting to think of individual parts of this journey as separate elements; interior design, service staff, atmospheric scent, room cleanliness, etc. It is important to understand that this is not how our minds work when it comes to evaluating an experience.

A simple example: If we ask you to focus on the feeling of the soles of your feet on the ground right now, you will notice a bunch of subtle sensations. Temperature, texture, humidity, a tiny itch perhaps.

Alex Bestall, Rightsify founder

If we had not asked you to focus on these sensations, you would not have noticed consciously. Still, these sensations would have influenced your current mood and experience nonetheless. Our minds are masters at taking a massive amount of sensory input and summarizing, deducting, simplifying and distilling until we have a comprehensive and manageable “overall sensation”.

Time and again, studies show how music influences our mood, evaluation of service, purchasing behaviour, loyalty and many more variables. The most important factor to keep in mind is to make the music suitable to the context and situation. With modern technology, it is now easier than ever to pipe different music styles to different parts of your venue to make every interaction with your guests count. Here are some concrete ideas to make it work.

The Lobby

This is where you make your first impression. The atmosphere should reflect who you are. Let there be no misunderstanding as to which hotel people are visiting. The decor, scent, staff and music should all convey your brand image as clearly as possible. Second, it is smart to consider the mental state in which your guests arrive. Travelling is taxing on the mind and body and if your hotel is situated in a busy metropolitan street, this is the ultimate opportunity to provide your guests with a comforting sanctuary.

A soothing, welcoming and relaxing soundscape of jazzy or classical music perhaps? It all depends on your particular context and brand, of course.

Another thing to consider is music’s influence on time perception. As it turns out, different music styles have different effects on how we perceive the passing of time. Fast, loud, complex and familiar music all make waiting times seem longer. So if your check-in process sometimes takes a bit longer than you would like, it might pay off to play soft, slow, easy and unfamiliar music in the lobby. Waiting times will be perceived as being shorter.

Bar & Restaurant

This is where you can quickly monetize your music. We will share some insights from scientific studies and how to benefit from them. Slow music makes people act more slowly. It will lengthen the average visit and, yes, it has been studied that people take fewer bites per minute when dining with slow music in the background.

As an effect, it turns out that slower music results in higher spending on drinks, as people stay a bit longer and take some extra time for their conversations and meals. The same goes for softer music. So if your aim is to keep people in your bar/restaurant and maximize revenues per guest, slow and soft music will do the trick. If your aim is quick turnover and multiple dinners per table per night with a buffet for example, faster and louder music is more suited.

Pool & Gym

As always, music has to be appropriate and valuable. In the gym, you might want to help people get into the vibe with some more energetic music. Think EDM (electronic dance music) or anything lively that suits your image. Keep the volume modest, as not all hotel gym users are hard core body builders.

Pool or spa areas are generally better off with a more quiet and relaxed vibe. Something relaxing and subtle might just take the edge off after a long flight or an intense day of business meetings. Try and find something close to your core brand sound and create a calmer version of it.

The Room

The room is a different experience altogether. Here the guest needs full control. Why not put a Bluetooth speaker in every room so guests can hook up their own smartphones and enjoy their own music? Another alternative is to have your own branded selection of music offered on the TV’s in-room. It is little details such as these that turn a good experience into a great one.

Branded Music

Of course, you also want your music to reflect and enhance your brand image. A combination of sight, sound and scent can trigger extremely strong associations. Particularly for worldwide hotel chains, it can be rewarding to create recognisability. A guest will feel right at home, even though he or she has never been to this specific property before. The best way to create recognisability is to be specific. Ninety percent of main street businesses play generic pop music, a safe choice which results in a generic, vague and unmemorable image. Dare to go for something different. Maybe your formula is all about Blues or Baroque. Be special.

Music Rights

If you were to start approaching the musical atmosphere of your hotel in this fashion, things can quickly turn complicated and expensive when it comes to music rights. These are fees to compensate the rights holders (artists, record labels, songwriters and publishers) of the music that you are using their copyrights in your hotel. Luckily, there is a new alternative to the old system: Direct Licensing.

Direct licensing is music that is sourced directly from the artist, without unnecessary middle-men or intermediaries. This is not only a more simple solution; it also saves a lot of money every year. Back in the days, directly licensed music was often of lower quality than commercial music. That is no longer the case now that music production and licensing has been democratized and globalized in recent years.

Rightsify mobile app

Embracing Technology

Creating a worthwhile musical atmosphere has become extremely easy. All you need is an audio system and an internet connection. For maximum flexibility, you can opt for a streaming system. The music is piped to your hotel over the internet in real time.

But perhaps your connection is not perfectly stable, or for security or bandwidth reasons you do not want the constant data load of streaming music. In this case, you can opt for an offline mode where the playlists are downloaded to any modern device that you use to play music.

Getting Started

It is safe to conclude that music is a crucial element in the overall experience you offer your guests. The technical, financial and rights-related challenges and investments have shrunk massively over the past years. At the same time, we have gained a much deeper understanding of how the guest experience is built up and how music affects it. In our current experience-economy, music is something that is due your full attention. Let’s build even better guest experiences together.

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