How Curated Music Can Help Hoteliers’ Bottom Line

PASADENA, CA—Hoteliers: It’s time for a sound check. It’s paramount to understand how sound in a hotel psychologically and physically affects guests and how it may benefit your bottom line.

Music can soothe and inspire the soul, but it also has the ability to encourage people to linger longer and spend money.

“It’s all about creating the environment,” said Alex Bestall, founder of Rightsify, which specializes in music licensing and custom music design for hotels, restaurants and retailers. “Every hotel knows they need music. It’s the little details that can affect how guests perceive the hotel. At check-in, playing slower music tends to make the process feel smoother compared to upbeat, pop music. In terms of food and beverage, it’s also really important. At a hotel buffet, turnover is important. The faster the music, the faster people will chew and leave. Also, playing slow classical and jazz piano will encourage guests to stay later and spend more on drinks.”

Alex Bestall, Rightsify
Alex Bestall, Rightsify

Much like landscaping can modify or reveal the visible features of an area of land, Bestall recommends soundscaping to help improve the audible areas of a hotel.

“In all areas of the hotel, you don’t want anything too imposing but that has a powerful sound and goes well,” said Bestall. “For F&B, it’s about creating the ambiance they want. Newer brands are targeting millennials with something upbeat, and hotels for business travelers and families might offer something more traditional.”

With the right music, guests may be influenced to make an immediate judgment of the quality of service, product or overall experience.

“For example, take a cup of coffee. The type of cup can affect the feel of quality, such as a glass cup versus a paper cup. The same is true with music; playing something that doesn’t say quality in an upscale environment does affect how people perceive the brand,” he said. “In another study, a wine shop played pop music from the radio and when they changed to classical music, sales went up. It leads to people having a different mindset toward the property.”

While music is a vital tool for guests’ satisfaction, the right sounds can help employees as well.

“From an employee perspective, making it not repetitive is key or it can be quite draining,” he said. “When talking to staff in the restaurant or café, I get their thoughts on the music. Repetitive music is something they don’t like and that’s the main thing, especially if it’s familiar music. Similarly, it helps the mood if the music flows well throughout the day—in the morning, as the employees are opening up for the day,  there’s a slower vibe; setting up for breakfast picks up in tempo, as long as it’s not flat or sounds exactly the same. If the music is too loud, waiters may not be able to hear the guest’s order in a restaurant.”

With all these nuances, Rightsify works closely with hospitality clients in the process of curating music that evokes the right image, perception and purpose.

“We look at the brand, the type of hotel—is it for business travelers or a full-service resort?—we review their F&B spaces and the kind of demographic they serve,” he said. “We time the music throughout the day. Early morning is never too energetic, and the mood and tempo progress throughout the day.”

For hoteliers, Bestall shared three tips for designing and aligning sounds to reflect a hotel: “It’s about amplifying the brand, making sure the music fits and represents the brand well, from the lobby to guestroom; from the time they enter hotel, make the guest experience smooth, welcoming and enjoyable; and use music to increase revenue, whether it’s more turnover at a restaurant or keeping people longer at the bar.”