Using Music to Heighten Guest Satisfaction

Music can have a profound psychological effect on your mood and how you experience your surroundings. Not hard to understand. With this as a precedent, it is very important to match your selection of music to the experience you want your guests to have when they are present in a certain room or part of the hotel. Playing distinct and identifiable songs at the right moments can help solidify a memory in a guest’s brain so they remember your property in a more positive light and so the memories remain vivid for a longer period of time (thus aiding with word of mouth).

Via these pathways, music can be used to increase overall guest satisfaction. With this as the purpose, I sought out Noel Steen, Creative Director at Music Direction (, to talk about some of the work his company is doing to build branded playlists for hotels and venues, and to help link consumers’ memories to specific locations.

Can you elaborate on some of the psychological effects of matching music with the desired atmosphere of a room?

There is no doubt that music has psychological effects on the consumer. The atmosphere of a room is the product of the various elements in that room: color scheme, lighting, decor, temperature, etc. If the music compliments or ‘matches’ the atmosphere of a room, a more complete and comprehensive experience is created. When all the elements of a brand experience are consistent, the personality of the brand is more clearly communicated. This ultimately creates a more memorable and unique experience for the customer. Substantial research has been done on this in the retail sector; studies showing that up to 70% of buying decisions are made in-store, listing the music playing as a contributing factor.

Explain the term ‘daily dynamics’.

Daily dynamics refers to the fluctuations in energy levels in a business throughout the day; the ebb and flow of customer visits during peak and non-peak times. It also refers to the different moods or attitudes that people have throughout the day: mornings, afternoons, evenings. Our playlists are designed to match the brand as well as the time of day or service segment.

How do you create branded music? How does this bolster a hotel’s identity?

We work closely with all our clients to design a custom music profile that’s in line with their brand. A variety of factors are taken into consideration: the mission statement, the design elements of the location, the product offering, the target demographic, etc. Our playlist designers handpick each track to ensure it communicates and strengthens a brand’s personality. And when the music compliments the other design elements of a hotel, the mind forms a more complete and rich experience. This brand recall elevates the identity of a hotel by projecting the attitude of the brand, whether it’s modern, traditional, luxurious or casual. Essentially, branded playlists provide the soundtrack to the business.

What particular consumer needs are you addressing through custom playlists?

Progressive retailers, restaurateurs and hoteliers are becoming aware of the importance of appealing to all five senses in an increasingly competitive environment. The music a consumer hears contributes to the environment to the same degree as interior finishes, furniture, and product merchandising.  A custom, branded music program addresses the consumer need for a more memorable experience.

How does this good music translate into more revenue?

First, our playlists elevate the cultural appeal of a room – be it a restaurant, bar or lobby café – encouraging guests to stay longer and purchase more. We’ve developed a particular talent for keeping guests in their seats, especially when it comes to increasing liquor sales. Second, music plays a subconscious role towards higher brand recall which increases return patronage and recommendations to friends and family.

Can you describe a few experiences you’ve had working with hotels? How did you adapt different music to different parts of the hotel?

The Opus Hotel was Music Direction’s very first client. I was contacted by the hotel’s founder John Evans, before it opened its doors in 2006. John told me all about his vision for the hotel and the important role that music would play in creating the atmosphere and brand personality. John explained that Opus Hotel was to be a boutique hotel with a modern French flare. He wanted an entirely custom music program that would communicate his brand concept.

As Music Direction didn’t exist yet, I went looking to find a service that would meet his needs. No such luck. All that existed at the time were satellite providers with a limited number of themed channels to pick from. The only French music available was traditional folk songs and the likes of Edith Piaf – not what I was looking for.

With the hotel’s opening date approaching, I decided to take matters into my own hands. At the time, there was a strong Nu Jazz movement happening in Paris from artists like St. Germain and Llorca. This was the modern European flare that Opus Hotel needed. I loaded a ton of this music onto a computer and set it up to change playlists throughout the day automatically. Voila! Music Direction was born. With the proof of concept a real success, I built a team to further develop the technology.

Opus Hotel now has a Music Direction Player installed in each area of the hotel: Opus Lounge, Cafe O and the restaurant, La Pentola. The specifics of each area on considered when designing the playlists. The interior design, lighting, product offering and hours of operation all influence the selection of tracks included.

(Article published by Larry Mogelonsky in eHotelier on July 8, 2013)

Larry MogelonskyUsing Music to Heighten Guest Satisfaction