Features.

Can music improve the guest experience?

Whether it’s background tunes, live events or personalised musical experiences, sound can charm the senses of your guests when used strategically – influencing their decisions and overall experience. Click. explores

by Nicola Donovan, Click. Travel Writer, Booking.com

Topic: Guest experience

Click. Takeaway

  • 75% of guests like to hear music in the lobbies, bars, restaurants and public spaces of a property
  • From background tunes and live performances to personalised experiences, music has the potential to increase guest satisfaction, boost spending and create loyalty
  • Knowing your guest and what that person would like from their stay is critical when crafting the musical elements of your property
  • Carefully considering the type of music you’re curating for different spaces will also have a direct impact on the guest experience and their behaviour

With the power to trigger memories, adjust emotions and create experiences, it’s no wonder music has such a big impact: research shows 75% of hotel guests like to hear music in the lobbies, bars, restaurants and public spaces of a property.

“Music is always your constant companion and can make you feel connected to the new spaces that you’re in, or even make you feel at home in new environments,” says Lauren Bucherie, Director of Music + Brand Activations, Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants. “For us, we found it really does impact the guest journey positively – bringing a one of a kind experience to their stay.”

Crafting an experience

As experiential touch-points are increasingly desired by consumers, music can help in shaping their overall satisfaction. “We’re in a time where experiences matter more than free room nights,” says Bucherie. “Loyalty is built by experiences that you can’t necessarily buy. If a guest were to replay the memory of their stay, what is the soundtrack they would hear? That’s what really makes the lasting impression and is expected from the consumers we are dealing with today. Those details will stick in front of mind for guests when they think about booking their next stay.”

The same rings true for owner of 1849 Backpackers, Rob Daniel, who transformed a spare area in his hostel into a performance space. “Music is the universal language, so even when people don’t have a common language they are able to share life, fun, emotion, laughter, learning and creativity with everyone they meet,” says Daniel. “It creates a wonderful atmosphere, whether there is someone playing a simple tune on the piano, strumming a guitar or a group of people having a full-blown jam session.”

HRH Palm Springs

Photo: HRH Palm Springs

Hard Rock Hotels have taken it one step further, with the themed chain creating programmes that allow guests to stream and download music, enjoy in-room vinyl records, or receive a guitar delivered directly to their room. “We place a strong emphasis on offering authentic experiences,” says Dale Hipsh, Senior Vice President of Hotels at Hard Rock International. “Having started with [our programme] Tracks, we saw the popularity of a music-inspired amenity among our guests, and developed the rest of the programme based upon this positive reaction.”

When it comes to crafting the musical elements of your property, understanding your customer is critical. “Knowing your guest and what that person would like from their stay is important to ensuring a great music experience,” says Bucherie. “When we’re developing a new property or a new space, we have this aspirational guest, or muse, that a lot of our creative decisions are based off of. For me, that’s a very strong guiding light. The muse really drives these creative decisions and I think that’s what really helps to keep it fresh when we’re curating different playlists.”

Carefully considering the type of music you’re curating for different spaces will also have a direct impact. Studies have shown that fast, loud and familiar music can make waiting times seem longer, so it may pay off to steer clear of those songs in the lobby while guests are checking-in. When it comes to boosting bottom line, slow music played in a bar or restaurant is said to increase spending by as much as 40%, while more sophisticated tunes in hotel stores can enhance perceived quality.

Maximising profits

Increased guest satisfaction and enticing spending are not the only returns music can produce, with more subtle benefits also positively impacting bottom line. “We know that some people while choosing their accommodation, choose to stay with us because we have these musical facilities and instruments available,” says Daniel. “We also know that guests stay longer than they planned to, either because they get to play these instruments, practice, or just because they’ve had fun, made friends and don’t want to leave.”

Our guests see it as an added level of care we are putting towards their journey, which can help long-term

“The less obvious return is that, in my opinion, our attention to music also builds brand loyalty and trust,” says Bucherie. “Our guests see it as an added level of care we are putting towards their journey, which can help long-term – specifically with millennials and other guests that value experiences over everything else. The live events we arrange also definitely help with group bookings.”

And with guests now able to read thousands of reviews online, word-of-mouth marketing is a powerful tool for every hotelier. “Social media, such as Instagram, is a great way in which our guests can share live content of their experiences and showcase the music amenities that they are enjoying throughout their stay,” says Hipsh. “We have seen this reflected in our guests regularly posting about [our programme] Rock Om, for example, which translates well through live videos as it is such an immersive and sound-based experience which they are keen to share with their followers.”

“I believe that there is a high importance for hotels to invest into music experiences for their guests,” continues Hipsh. “For us, music is something that our guests and our staff are passionate about. We prioritise music in everything we do to ensure that guests leave with not only a fantastic hotel experience, but a musically-infused, unique stay.”

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Nicola Donovan is a travel writer for Click.

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