Creating the Perfect Soundscape: A Guide for Hoteliers on Choosing the Best Background Music for Their Property
January 4, 2023
Guide To The Best Background Music For Hotels
Music is ubiquitous in many public spaces, including gyms, retail stores, gas stations, and hotels. It can have a range of effects on the atmosphere and mood of a place, from energizing to calming. In addition to creating ambiance, research has shown that upbeat music in retail settings may encourage customers to spend more money. One benefit of music in a hotel is that it provides an attractive sound backdrop to customers’ conversations with hotel employees and guests. For hotels, background music serves multiple purposes. It helps set the tone and mood for guests, and it can also be used to reinforce the hotel’s brand. Choosing the correct playlist for your hotel is essential, and there are several factors to consider. In this article, we’ll explore the role of background music in hotels and offer some tips for selecting an influential playlist.
A Brief History of Hotel Background Music
The use of background music in the hospitality industry began in the 1920s to fill the silence. Over time, the strategy has evolved. Hotel CDs featuring branded music were introduced and made available for purchase in the lobby. More recently, branded hotel radio channels have become available on a guest app, featuring pre-selected music that plays throughout the hotel, including in the lobby and bar.The idea that background music can influence consumer behavior has existed for quite some time. People often sway or tap their feet to the music, and one study found that when upbeat music was played in a wine outlet, guests purchased significantly more alcohol than when no music was played. An experiment with coffee drinkers found that those who listened to upbeat ambient music rated their drinks as tasting better than those who listened to no music or downbeat tunes.The effect of ambient music on guest purchasing decisions may extend beyond the enjoyment of a particular type of drink or wine; exposure to beneficial background soundscape may help people make positive spending decisions. Research suggests that consumers subconsciously take cues from the social environment in their decision-making process.
Why Hotel Background Music is Important
The use of commercial background music in hotels has become a lucrative industry, as it offers numerous benefits to hotels and their guests. One of the main advantages of background music in hotels is that it helps to create a pleasant and relaxing atmosphere in common areas, such as lobby lounges, executive lounges, coffee shops, and restaurants. This can be particularly useful in the morning, when guests may be looking to start their day with a cup of coffee and a light breakfast, as music helps to set the mental tone for the day ahead. In addition, background music can also energize and motivate guests during working lunches or breakout sessions, helping to create a more productive and enjoyable atmosphere.
Background Music Keeps Fitness Center Visitors Motivated
The power of music to transport us to a specific time, place, or feeling is well-known. But did you know that research has shown that music can also have a powerful effect on our moods and overall well-being? According to the American Music Therapy Association, music can alleviate pain, manage stress, and improve memory. The next time you choose the background music for your hotel, consider selecting upbeat tracks within a genre that can help enhance your guests’ moods and create a more positive and dynamic experience. Not only will this help promote happiness and good physical and mental health, but it can also contribute to a memorable and enjoyable stay for your guests.
Choose Music to Promote Mood and Energy
Ambient music is a powerful tool for allowing hotels to create a warm, welcoming atmosphere that is nurturing and comfortable. Studies show that people feel more energetic when they listen to upbeat, lively music. Music can help to promote positive moods. Research has found that the music a person listens to influences their mood, although it is essential to note that it is not the only factor in determining our moods. The type of food we eat and how we sleep also impact how we feel. However, music affects our mood shortly after exposure to it because it acts as an input signal rather than a mere output signal. A more upbeat mood can foster a more productive and friendly atmosphere, encouraging guests to enjoy their hotel experience.
Balancing Brand Music and Guest Expectations
Given its ability to create an energizing environment, music is a good choice for hotels throughout each day.
For other areas of the hotel, such as the bar, hotels may consider using background music that promotes a positive mood rather than too energizing. The right music can help create an inviting and relaxing atmosphere at happy hour or after dinner.
Each hotel chain has a brand personality that influences all aspects of business operations, including customer service and products, corporate identity, and marketing communication.
Hotels must balance this with the needs of guests. For example, some chains may not have a promotional video or theme song, but many of them have a unique sound that comes through in their music. Starwood’s Westin Hotels and Resorts was the first hotel brand to roll out a signature brand music experience across 124 hotels and resorts. The project was part of its brand revitalisation strategy to transform the brand from the lowest to top performing brand within its category.
The 2006 initiative Sensory Welcome program included a curated custom playlist called “Heavenly Sound” that was played in common areas throughout its hotels and resorts. The playlist was designed to create a soothing and uplifting atmosphere for guests, and features a mix of classical and contemporary music.
The idea behind this experience is to create a memorable, holistic experience for guests and to differentiate Westin from other hotels, making the brand more memorable for the guests. Brand music was integrated across its adverts, telephone on hold music, and staff mobile phone ringtones.
Harvard Business Review Operations of a Lifestyle Experience Case Study has an in-depth study on how Westin used music as part of its strategy to successfully dominate its market segment.
Exotic locations may require an extensive selection of exotic background tracks for their lobby and public areas to heighten the theme.
The music’s overall mood can also influence customer perception of the hotel. If there is an accent on upbeat music and vocal performances, guests may feel energized by the positive emotions produced by this music. However, if more downbeat or ambient music is played in the lobby area, guests may be stressed out and drained when they get to their rooms. In this case, upbeat music is a better fit.
The type of mood created in the hotel should be influenced by the music that is played. For instance, if the hotel seeks to create an environment where guests are friendly and social, bossa-nova music may encourage these feelings. Conversely, suppose it’s essential for the hotel to convey a sophisticated image and promote posh surroundings. In that case, classical or light jazz would be more appropriate than pop.
Research has found that younger guests recall music better than older guests.
Need-to-Know Tips Before Choosing Your Hotel Music Playlist
A background music soundscape is essential to events such as conferences and weddings. Choosing the right background music to match the theme is important for setting the mood you want, as it reinforces the idea behind the event. In a hotel setting, the music you choose can influence your guests’ moods and reflect your establishment’s unique personality. Follow these tried-and-true tips to make sure your music fits with your brand and improves the experience of your guests:
No background music is not an option
In a busy hotel, the constant chatter and noise in the reception area can be overwhelming and distracting for guests. To create a more comfortable guest experience, it’s important to have background music playing to cover and muffle the sounds of voices and provide a calming atmosphere for those waiting in line. Silence is not a suitable option in this situation. Instead, music can help create a more pleasant environment for guests. Music can also add ambiance and atmosphere to the lobby, restaurant, or bar areas.
Connect the background music to your guest profile
When choosing music for the different areas of your hotel, you should put the area’s concept, the brand’s position, and the mood you want to create at the top of your list.A thorough understanding of your clientele and their demographics can help you choose music that resonates with them. For instance, if you cater to a younger crowd, selecting modern genres and familiar songs that are popular among this age group may be best. On the other hand, if your hotel often hosts an older crowd, you may want to avoid playing “pop” music and opt for familiar background tracks of the guest profile. If your hotel caters to a range of ages and attracts both families with children and older guests, choose music that is pleasant for all but not necessarily overly familiar to any one group. By thinking about your customers and the music that will appeal to them and fit with your brand, you can make a nice place for your guests to hang out.
Sync your background music playlists to the hotel’s circadian rhythm
As a hotel is a 24×7 business, understanding its circadian rhythm is essential.Your hotel’s choice of background music can significantly impact the guest experience. Think about the different moods and feelings you want your background music to bring out in your guests throughout the day. This will help you create an atmosphere that fits their needs.In the morning, soft and peaceful music can set a calming tone for guests as they start their day. As the day goes on, upbeat music can give people more energy and make the atmosphere more lively. In the mid-afternoon, choose lively and upbeat music to maintain a positive mood. As the evening approaches, consider switching to soothing and relaxing music to help guests wind down and prepare for a good night’s sleep.By changing your music playlists throughout the day to meet the needs of your guests, you can make sure that everyone feels welcome and has a good time.
Update your background music up regularly
If a hotel does not update its background music regularly, the music may become repetitive and stale. Guests may become bored or annoyed with hearing the same songs repeatedly. This could make their stay at the hotel less enjoyable and could lead to bad reviews or fewer people coming back. Additionally, if the music is not regularly updated, it may not be appropriate for the current season or events happening in the area, which could also negatively impact guests’ experience.In addition to changing the music, it is important to think about the genre and style of the music. The music should be appropriate for the atmosphere and clientele of the hotel and should not be too loud or disruptive. It’s also important to consider the guests’ cultural backgrounds and personal musical tastes and to offer a wide range of music to please as many people as possible.Using music to build a brand can also be improved by making personalized playlists and giving each person a unique music experience. For example, a hotel could offer guests the option to choose the music played in their room or create their own playlist through a music streaming service. This can create a more personalized and memorable experience for guests.Music in a hotel can help create the right mood and make the stay more enjoyable for guests. However, it is essential to balance maintaining a consistent brand image and keeping the music fresh and engaging.
Keep track of everything in one place
Here are some additional steps that could be helpful when organizing your music selection for an outlet:
– Research the outlet’s audience:
Consider the age range, musical preferences, and atmosphere you want to create for the event. This will help you choose appropriate songs for each time of day and location.
– Create a variety of playlists:
In addition to the breakfast, midday, and evening playlists for the outlet, consider creating separate playlists for the off-peak hours. You can also create themed playlists for special events or holidays.
– Use music scheduling software:
Several software options allow you to schedule your music playlists and set specific times for them to play. This can help ensure that the music fits the mood and activity level of the event.
– Test the volume levels:
It’s important to find the right balance between music that is too loud and music that is too quiet. Check the volume in each place to ensure the music isn’t too loud but can still be heard clearly.
– Make updates as needed:
As the event goes on, you may need to make changes to the playlists or volume levels based on feedback from attendees or staff. Be ready to change the music to make sure that your guests have the best time possible.
Take cues from background music at The Ritz-Carlton
The Ritz-Carlton Montreal relies on music playing in the hallways and spa to create a relaxing atmosphere throughout the hotel. To create the mood they want, they use tracks that show off their unique brand and give guests a dynamic experience. For instance, the “Chill Lounge” set, played during breakfast, exemplifies their effective use of background music. In addition to the music played in each location, The Ritz-Carlton utilizes mood lighting and ambient sound to establish a theme and image for each hotel area. The choice is crucial for creating a relaxing atmosphere, which many business and leisure travelers need. The Ritz-Carlton’s use of music shows how important it is to brand a hotel with music as a key part of making it more attractive and welcoming.
Remember That Background Music is Not Free
If you want to use music in a public setting, such as a hotel, restaurant, gym, spa, bar, or lounge, streaming services like Spotify, Pandora, Soundcloud, Youtube, or Apple Music are not an option. These digital music services are made for consumers to use for their private pleasure, and businesses are not allowed to use them. Hence, playing individual CDs, MP3s, or digital files in a public setting is illegal. The reason is that music owners provide access to the songs for consumers at a low price, as they would use it for personal pleasure and receive ‘financial gain’ from its use. Whereas when a business uses music, it will be more successful and gain financially from the use of the music. To legally play copyrighted music in a public or business environment, the hotel must arrange the music licenses below:
Public Performance of Lyrics
Public Performance of Musical Compositions
Public Performance of Sound Recording (the song)
Reproduction of Sound Recording (also known as mechanical license)
Furthermore, to use the tracks, the user has to be granted ‘permission’ (known as Master Rights) by the owner of the Sound Recordings (often the record label, publisher, or distributor).In layman’s terms, you can’t source and download music files from Spotify, Soundcloud or Youtube, pay the local reproduction and public performance licenses and think the music is legal. Taking music without permission is theft, and stolen music can’t be licensed to become legitimate music.In the music licensing world, licenses are controlled by the owners of the lyrics, music composition, and sound recording. In Singapore, businesses may purchase ‘blanket licenses’ from the ‘non-exclusive collection’ associations on behalf of the owners they represent (they don’t represent ALL composers, lyricists, or Publishers).
Master Use licenses are granted by the respective owner (often publisher or distributor).Getting this license before playing any copyrighted music is essential, as failure to do so can result in fines of up to $150,000 per song played. It’s also worth noting that even “royalty-free music” requires Public Performance Licenses to be played in a public setting.This global music licensing model, also known as collective management, was implemented in various countries at different times, but it became a widespread practice in the 20th century. Collective management refers to the practice of having a single organization or entity representing the rights of multiple copyright owners and licensing their works on their behalf.The goal of collective management is to make it easier and more efficient for licensees to obtain the rights to use a wide variety of copyrighted works by only having to negotiate with one organization instead of many individual rights holders. This model was implemented to make it easier for copyright holders to monetize their works and for licensees to use them legally.In the context of music, Collective Management Organizations such as PROs (Performance Rights Organizations) and CMOs (Copyright Management Organizations) have been established to manage and license the rights to musical works on behalf of copyright holders (non-exclusively). These organizations have been established in most countries around the world, with some of the most notable examples being ASCAP and BMI in the US, SOCAN in Canada, PRS for Music in the UK, MACP and PPM in Malaysia, as well as MRSS and COMPASS in Singapore.Contact us if you would like to discuss your music needs or would like a professional evaluation to ensure you are correctly licensed and fully compliant.
Discover 7 Top Strategies for Outstanding Background Music Throughout Your Hotel
The days of generic background music playing in hotel lobbies, saunas, and breakfast areas are over. Instead, hotels now choose songs carefully to create a consistent and purposeful atmosphere for their guests as they move around the property. To design influential playlists, hotel managers consider the overall guest experience and how different types of music can impact the mood and ambiance in other areas of the hotel. By putting together music in this way, hotels can make their guests’ stays more enjoyable and memorable.
Start with your lobby
The first impression a hotel makes on guests is crucial. After a long journey, travelers are often tired and looking forward to relaxing in their rooms. It’s important to avoid starting on the wrong foot by playing loud, energetic music that may be jarring to tired travelers. Instead, choose calming and relaxing music, such as jazz, classical, or contemporary variants, to create a welcoming and tranquil atmosphere in the lobby. If check-in wait times are lengthy, choosing slow and easygoing music is beneficial to keep guests relaxed. Hotels can make a positive first impression on their guests by setting a peaceful and stress-free tone.
Display your style in common areas
To create a cohesive atmosphere, it is essential to maintain your core branding when selecting music to play in common areas like hallways and outdoor seating areas. The music should be kept in these spaces at a low volume to avoid disrupting the environment. The purpose of background music in these areas is to fill the silence rather than be the main focus. By staying true to your core brand and keeping the volume low, you can make a place where everyone feels comfortable and welcome.
Slow it down in the bar and restaurant
The type of music played in a restaurant can influence the pace of a meal. Slow music has been shown to encourage people to eat slower, leading them to stay longer, engage in more conversation, and spend more money on drinks. On the other hand, faster music played at a louder volume may encourage people to eat more quickly and leave, allowing for a higher turnover rate for the establishment (ideal for casual dining and fast food outlets).
Pump up the gym
Putting upbeat music in your fitness center, like electronic dance music, hip-hop, or classic rock, can make the experience better for people who go there. These genres of music can help people get into the groove and enjoy their workout. When you’re working out, it can be great to listen to various upbeat and inspiring songs. Different kinds of music can help you cater to your client’s tastes and help them find the beat. Ultimately, the goal is to make a place fun and interesting for people who want to move around and get fitter.
Keep it relaxing by the pool
To create a relaxing atmosphere for poolgoers, it is important to choose music with a subtle and laid-back vibe. While some people may use the pool for exercise, most people are there to unwind and de-stress. Choose a quieter version of your brand’s usual sound, or use light tropical music or low-key jazz. By carefully selecting the music played at the pool, you can create a calm and soothing atmosphere that will encourage people to relax and enjoy their time there.
Offer choices in guest rooms
As a host, it’s important to think about what kind of music your guests like and let them choose what they want to listen to. One way to do this is by providing Bluetooth speakers in each guest room, which allows guests to connect their smartphones and play their preferred music. This will enable guests to customize their room’s atmosphere and gives them a sense of autonomy and control. You could also put a branded music channel on the TVs in your rooms so that guests can choose from a carefully chosen list of songs. By taking these small steps, you can help create a memorable and enjoyable stay for your guests.
Make sure it’s never intrusive
If several customers say they don’t like the music and ask for it to be changed or turned down often, it’s key to pay attention to these complaints. This could mean something is wrong with your current music strategy, and you may need to go back and change it.
Consider These Genres for Your Background Music Soundscape
Many different music genres can be used in hotels to create a specific atmosphere. Here are some options to consider:
– Jazz music: This classic style is known for its relaxing atmosphere and is often used in hotel lobbies and restaurants.
– Lounge music: This easy-listening genre, popular in the 1950s and 60s, has a tranquil sound with lightly danceable rhythms. Contemporary versions are well-suited for use in hotel bars and lounges.
– Reggae music: While softer reggae styles are suitable for background music in hotels, more upbeat tunes can also be used in certain areas, such as the pool, spa, or lobby in the evening.
– Bossa Nova music: This genre combines jazz and samba elements and has a warm and welcoming feel. It is suitable for use in hallways, outdoor locations, and the lobby in the afternoon.
– Environmental New Age music: If your hotel promotes eco-friendliness, this genre, which includes sounds of nature such as rainfall or birdsong, can create a dynamic atmosphere in the spa or pool.
– Instrumental music: This genre, which features instruments such as the piano or guitar but no vocals, is a good choice for use in the lobby, breakfast area, and outdoor locations at any time of day.
Conclusion – Creating a Memorable Ambient Music Experience for Hotel Guests
Background music is an important aspect of creating a memorable experience for hotel guests. The right background music can help set the perfect ambiance and atmosphere for your hotel, making it stand out in the competitive hotel industry. By understanding the importance of genre, volume, and custom playlists, hoteliers can elevate their property’s atmosphere and provide a memorable experience for guests. By following the advice provided in this guide, hoteliers can make sure that their guests have a memorable and enjoyable stay at their property.
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