Music has the power to increase guest satisfaction and improve staff morale. Just ask 25-year-old Bradley Newberger, president and founder of Ambiance Radio, a background music service geared toward hotels, resorts, restaurants, and spas.
While a student at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration in Ithaca, N.Y., Newberger managed the Taverna Banfi at The Statler Hotel on campus. The newly renovated restaurant looked great, says the 2008 grad, but was missing one thing: the right music. While researching the available options, he found that many satellite radio station channels and custom music solutions reflected personal taste without taking other factors into account. “When you think about background music, personal taste is the worst thing to choose,” Newberger says.
His tests of research-guided restaurant music led to the launch of Ambiance Radio in 2010. Ambiance Radio uses proprietary software and
a technology system that creates customized music feeds hour-by-hour
that are tailored to each site’s business objectives, taking into
account demographics, psychographics, and traffic volume. The feeds
incorporate findings from academic and scientific research. Thus far, the service is installed in nearly 20 hotels and resorts across the country, in addition to select Quaker Steak & Lube and Schlotzsky’s locations, and Danny Meyer’s Union Square Café.
Newberger says the biggest mistake made by limited-service hotels is relying on a television as background noise. If a news channel is playing, for example, there’s a chance that political content might agitate or offend a guest who has an opposing view. “By putting the right music in a room,” he says, “you can transform it and make it feel fresher.”
Full-service properties that attract mainly business travelers during the week and welcome mostly families on weekends operate differently on, say, a Tuesday compared to a Saturday, which is why Newberger says the music should change based on who is in the space. If an adult contemporary station is constantly playing, “After a while, Mariah Carey and Shania Twain start to sound the same,” he says.
Regardless of property type, music also affects employees and their mood, which then impacts service. If frontline staff members hear the same music played over and over again, it’s enough to make them go crazy. “Employees like variety,” Newberger says.
Atmosphere is a key factor in guest satisfaction and staff attitudes, and background music can play a big role in achieving the right ambience in hotels.
— Megan Sullivan, Managing Editor, Lodging