Sound and Vision: How Audio is Becoming the New Visual for Hoteliers

By Daniel Lafferty Director of Music & Voice, PHMG | January 20, 2019

Hotel owners are usually experts in the importance of marketing, recognizing how much their business image can impact on their bottom line. If website photography isn't suitably aspirational, it can put customers off before they have even booked a room and poor social media branding, non-mobile optimized websites or negative reviews on TripAdvisor can be equally damaging.

As a result, owners will invest heavily in visual marketing to ensure their hotel looks as good as it possibly can. But while visual imagery is clearly a core element of a hotel's brand, audio – in our multimedia world – is rapidly becoming another powerful influencer.

The Science of Sound

Our hearing is one of our most emotive senses, as sound elicits intense emotion in humans. A song can instantly transport a listener back to a certain moment, triggering a vivid recollection of smells, visuals and emotions.

Research into the science of sound has unearthed some interesting truths. We have been found to trust our sense of hearing more than our sight. The Hearing Body project at University College London discovered people can have perceptions of their own body image distorted by changes in sound, with one test altering the pitch of a person's footsteps to trick them into believing they were lighter or heavier than they actually were.

Another study found that playing chilled out, slow-tempo, stress-busting music (for example in a hotel spa) increases retail sales by 10% in a low crowd density, but had the opposite effect in busy environments (such as a hotel bar) where loud, lively music got people drinking more beer, faster.

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Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.