Listen Carefully: You Will Make Your Guests Want to Linger Longer

By Derrick Garrett Founder & Chief Executive Officer, Roundhouse Multimedia | February 24, 2019

Setting the mood with music. What comes to mind when I say that? If you went to Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get It On," that's not the right direction (for this article, anyway). Truth be told, there is no one right answer to define this. Does your mood stay the same every day? Is it the same when you are working out as when you are getting a massage? When you're plugging away on your laptop versus at the bar having drinks with friends?

Moods change for a variety of reasons and are influenced by a number of factors, including time of day, activities you are doing and the environment you are in. Settings help to dictate moods; the way you feel at a sun-drenched pool or a dimly lit club are likely very different. Cue the music, literally. The music within the space you are in is an amazing way to transform both moods and experiences. Having an "autopilot" playlist that is the same day by day, or worse yet, the same for every space in your hotel, is a recipe for mood kill. And losing guests.

The right music absolutely makes your guests want to linger longer. Hotel guests will be inclined to order one more drink at your bar, relax longer at the pool, or settle into your lobby for lunch instead of going to that restaurant down the street. You can elevate the customer experience one song at a time, building deeper connections to your hotel.

Imagine this: You walk into the lobby of Hotel Whatever. High ceilings, staff with perfectly straight name tags, guests sipping cocktails at the bar in outfits straight out of Vogue (yes, the issue that has yet to hit newsstands). There's also a subtle scent; it's nice, just enough to notice without being overpowering. You settle into a tufted leather loveseat; so smooth and you sink into just the right depth. Then you order a small plate and a cocktail that sends your taste buds into culinary nirvana. You know this hotel; you might have stayed there, or had the pleasure of working there. Or maybe it's in your comp set and you aspire to replicate what they have achieved. All of your senses are truly delighted, well, almost.

Then you notice it; the giant arrangement in the center of the lobby riddled with dead flowers; they might be related to weeds. How could this happen? This in a setting that is otherwise perfect? This is a metaphor for poor music choices in the lobby, or anywhere throughout a hotel. Musical selections that are not given careful consideration are the equivalent to the ears as the dead flowers are to the eyes. Sound is the most underappreciated and underutilized of the senses in the hotel industry.

I was recently chatting with veteran hotelier and host of Travel Channel's Hotel Impossible and Five Star Secrets, Anthony Melchiorri. He was recalling when Westin launched the Heavenly Bed® and everyone had an "ah-ha" moment. The fact that there should be an emphasis on the bed, where guests likely spend a good deal of their time seemed so obvious, yet overlooked for so long. "It's all about the bed, stupid," is what Anthony said laughingly thinking back to what should have been a natural focal point in a hotel room for years. "And now it's all about the music, stupid." He went on to say if hoteliers are not serious about their musical selections, they aren't serious about their brand. A bad bed and bad music in a hotel both do the same thing, make guests uncomfortable.

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Coming up in June 2019...

Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.