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Mon 4 Feb 2008 04:00 AM

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Sing us a song, you're the piano man

Hoteliers are missing out on a valuable opportunity to influence their guests' mood - and they are missing out on a chance to increase their profitability in the process.

Hoteliers are missing out on a valuable opportunity to influence their guests' mood - and they are missing out on a chance to increase their profitability in the process.

This is the message from pianist Michael Griffin, who has been studying music psychology and the manner in which music can be used to influence consumer behaviour.

"We all have an emotional make up that we respond to, and objective as we might like to think we are we cannot help but act on our emotions," he explained.

"This is really important to understand for the hotel industry, because if a client comes in to your environment with negative emotions, they are more likely to evaluate your product negatively.

So it is important to try and induce a positive frame of mind, and we can induce this positive state of mind without people realising - music has the power to do that."

Getting guests in a positive frame of mind would also have a positive effect on the bottom line, Griffin said.

"Hotels by and large direct most of their attention to comfort - the touch and feel of a place - and vision, whereas if we want to generate return business, music is essential because music is associated with memory more than any other sense," he said.

"There are major benefits in store in terms of repeat patronage and client satisfaction, if hotels also give due attention to music and sound."

The key to designing an appropriate soundtrack for different areas of the hotel was to establish the purpose of the area and the personality the hotel is trying to portray, Griffin added.

"I would speak to the management level about what they want to convey - what is the personality of the restaurant you would like to portray? Is it cutting edge, is it innovative, is it classical, is it conservative, is it popular?" he said.

"Secondly, what is the aim of the restaurant? Are we looking for multiple sittings or fine dining? The music is then chosen accordingly."

However, just as the right music can create a good mood, having the wrong music - or none at all - could create a negative guest perception.

"Most F&B managers choose their music based on their own intuition, and most of them get it wrong," Griffin said.

"It's very personal, and people assume that because they like it and they think it fits, that it is the right choice for everybody."

"Familiar music is not necessarily the best choice, and that is where a lot of F&B managers make a mistake because they choose music they are familiar with, not music that is designed for a particular purpose.

"What influences people's mood is not whether it is classical or jazz, for example, but it's the tempo of the music and the modality of the music - whether it is major or minor."

Griffin said studies had shown that guests were more likely to purchase high end items like expensive wine if there was ‘classy' music, such as classical jazz, playing.

"Easy listening music is perceived by the customer as tacky and cheap, and people will spend less in that environment than if they perceive it as classy," he said.

And workers were also easily influenced by music too.

"The thing to remember though is that your workers and clients have different objectives at the time, so you need different music in the kitchen," he said.

"Let them have pop music in the kitchen, it's upbeat and keeps them happy."

With many different areas of a hotel serving different functions, each needed its own soundtrack, Griffin added.

"The intelligent way to look at this is to look at wherever you have traffic of people or clients, and work out what you want people to do there," he said.

"Do you want them to stay there, or do you want to move them along?"

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