For hotels, now is the time to think beyond the scope of traditional music programs to create experiences that resonate with guests.
Forget turndown service chocolate on a pillow. Hotel brands are now looking to sound as the latest way to add a personal touch to a guest’s stay.
At the Muir Hotel in Halifax, a restful night is offered through “sleep soundtracks” accessed via QR codes on maps depicting Nova Scotia’s landscapes and wildlife. The Canadian Hotel is part of Marriott’s Autograph Collection.
It’s the latest in a mix of brands like Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants and Equinox Hotels that are turning to the sound element to enhance the travel experience.
“Every time I looked out of a bedroom window, I thought, ‘How can we bring the outside in?'” Eugenie Jason, Muir’s general manager, said of the hotel’s scenic views. on the Atlantic. “Our ethos is ‘Born from this place’, and sound is an integral part of that experience. I wanted people to be able to take that experience home with them.”
The result is a growing mini-library that includes the rhythms of the ocean and the lullaby of local birds. The experience will in more ways “just” sound like a memory, said Anida Gurlit, creative director of music design at Mood Media.
“I want to see more. I want to do more of this type of programming,” Gurlit added of Muir. Smell is the most evocative of memory, but if I hear a song I like, I’m instantly transported back in time.
With a focus on hotel wellness programs post-pandemic — and extending the impact of those experiences back home — now is the time to think beyond the scope of music programs that have traditionally focused on tunes in the lobby, elevator, and restaurants.
Pablo Henderson, vice president of marketing for Equinox Hotels, sees QR codes as a way to offer “an unknown perspective,” likening them to an on-demand concierge or tour guide.
“They could offer new opportunities for sonic storytelling about the neighborhood, the art, the design, or the provenance of hotel ingredients,” he added.
Additionally, hotels that host podcasts or are active on platforms like Clubhouse and Fireside can offer a more interactive approach and “have a real dialogue with guests” when it comes to hospitality thought leadership, Henderson said.
Equinox already had a wellness program in the form of Rituals guided meditations before the pandemic, but offered free sleep coaching and wake-up “peer talks” to non-guests to practice at home.
Such measures are not only ways to improve brand loyalty for those who could not travel, but also an opportunity to attract new customers, said Henderson and Lauren Bucherie, senior director of development and programming. of the brand at Kimpton Hotels.
Kimpton has answered so many questions about its music from guests that the brand has created its own robust series of complementary Spotify playlists. In many places, music takes aesthetics into account through in-room record players that offer an element of personalization.
Travelers are encouraged to check out the vinyl at reception, providing a “memorable sense of connection with guests,” Bucherie said.
She sees music programming as an extension of the number of hotels that have set up art galleries to curate an experience or mood – or even put a local stamp on a globally recognized brand. Kimpton’s regional music designers evaluate each property’s considerations in terms of energy, how melodies can complement venue aesthetics, and a region’s history as it relates to certain genres. For example, Nashville’s intrinsic ties to country music.
Kimpton also frequently offers live music experiences, which is an opportunity to create enjoyment for customers while connecting with the local community, Bucherie said.
Gurlit believes the pandemic has changed the tone of the hospitality industry for hoteliers and music artists themselves.
“Properties [now] want to support more diverse styles,” she said. “I see exciting changes for music programmers. I noted a sense of adventure, a sense of creating an experience instead of an environment that is in the background. In selecting artists, hotels want to be a place that introduces new music to people rather than just being cool.
While some hotels have made headlines for their artificial intelligence “installations” Gurlit cautions against using AI in today’s climate, where what’s in the news can quickly dictate the tone of the day.
“If you have something scheduled that’s very energetic because that’s when most people tend to check in and it’s a slow morning, that sets the wrong tone,” he said. she stated. “Or if it’s a different crowd and you’re playing ‘eclectic global influence’ and you notice they’re not in it, you need that human element to be able to change it.”
Whether it’s check-in or check-out, the lobby can be one of the most challenging places, according to Henderson.
Not only are they “transactional spaces that must function in order to facilitate conversational exchanges”, but they are also the first and last chance to “make a lasting impression” when it comes to music selection.