Strike a Chord: The Role Music Plays in the Guest Experience

Seventy-two percent of guests notice the music played in a hotel.
music instruments

Despite recession fears, the hospitality industry is defying expectations and posting strong numbers as 2023 unfolds. Leisure drove performance gains in 2022, and the industry is experiencing the residual effects of that growth. As travelers return in droves, they’re craving a new, more curated experience. In fact, Hubspot reports 90% of leaders say customer expectations are at an all-time high. One way hoteliers can meet those expectations is by understanding how music can play an important role in elevating the hospitality experience.

The hotel lobby is meant to be a welcome oasis for leisure travelers. Music that complements the architecture and design elements and reflects the unique character and essence of the hotels brand should greet guests upon arrival. The music in the lobby is just as important as the design, aesthetics and amenities in its ability to create guest touchpoints and enhance ROI. Did you know that 72% of guests notice the music played in a hotel?

Like so many industries, digital transformation has affected hospitality. From online check-ins to QR-coded keys, the ease of the digital tools and the resulting data are revolutionizing experiences. That’s why the industry must explore its music options in new ways and leverage best-in-class digital innovations. Technology allows for not only custom curation, but scheduling and distribution across multiple zones, and data that enables businesses to unlock key, actionable insights.

Build Sensational Loyalty

In 2023, 77% of travelers recommend others start traveling again because of how gratifying the experience was in 2022. Industry research tells us that a whopping 79% will notice the music being played, reinforcing that auditory is a crucial piece of a brand’s sensory puzzle and the ambiance that hoteliers and hospitality operators may leverage to enhance the guest experience.

An MRC Data report explains that 40.8% of people stay longer in a business when they like the music and that millennials are most likely to stay longer for the music. Hotels are unique in that each area has an opportunity to provide a different connection during the guest’s journey, and a guest’s musical experience begins from their first step into the lobby to the final walk to their hotel room at the end of the night and everywhere in between. Elite Hotels of Sweden built their flagship room service marketing campaign leveraging specific sounds and the notion that senses create memories.

Music programming and curation sets the stage for a cohesive brand experience in the bar, restaurants, pool, spa, gym, business conference spaces, and shops. Together these sensory touchpoints create a unique experience rooted in emotion, memory and loyalty.

Music Influences Behavior

Music has the power to influence behavior, including how people spend time and money at a business. The strategic selection of music can communicate and strengthen a brand’s identity, influence customer behavior and increase sales. Entering a classically designed hotel, for example, guests may move through a grand entrance with classical piano notes in the air. Whereas, boutique hotels play more modern, eclectic grooves, setting the mood for their stay.

Customers are already bringing emotion to their travels. Whether it’s relief or excitement, providing a soundtrack to their mood reinforces their choices and builds their loyalty with both the experience they’re having and where they’re having it. Music affects the same pleasure centers in the brain as other perceived pleasures and can even affect consumer connection and purchase. Music can increase a consumer’s enjoyment of the experience and motivate specific behaviors which in turn accumulates loyalty and repurchase.

Stream Smarter

Finding your hotel’s soundtrack can feel as familiar as building your personal playlists. However, personal playlists aren’t the right support tool for a hospitality business. B2B music streaming platforms have licensed their music on a global level and protect the interests of the artists you play. Conventional personal playlists are just that – personal – and come with a high risk of being illegally deployed as a business solution.

B2B streaming platforms deliver added advantages as well. Their technology allows for lists and catalogs that can be curated for each area of the operation through one single interface, making the implementation of such careful curation realistic. Brands can customize “spa” or “fitness center” lists and keep them consistent among all their properties, too, giving users repeat experiences and capitalizing on their loyalty.

Top providers have vast catalogs that offer pre-scheduled and on-demand options and because premium providers are modeled after familiar online services, they’re easy to navigate. Music curation can happen in a number of ways, including by artist, genre, mood, other business favorites, regional music and more. Deployment is simple from a computer, or a peripheral hardware player and no extraordinary equipment needs, premium business streaming solutions can integrate into the business’ existing sound system.

What shouldn’t be missed when considering a B2B streaming service, however, is the data it provides. Businesses can map what was playing last Tuesday or, what soundtrack was on when the lobby bar had its best night and align that data with guest stays, conventions or other events to track how music’s power to influence behavior and purchase affected the business and then replicate it through the cataloged playlists.

Many brands know music is an experience enhancer and can change the entire feeling in a physical space. But those who adopt the correct platform recognize the benefit of curated music, state of the art technology, and will gain true loyalty, engagement and ROI.


Ola Sars is a Stockholm based serial entrepreneur active in the music-tech space. He is the CEO, Founder & Chairman of Soundtrack Your Brand, the world’s fastest growing music platform for businesses. Ola founded Soundtrack Your Brand as a joint effort with Spotify to help businesses strengthen relationships with customers through the power of music. By combining expert curation and world-class technology, Soundtrack Your Brand provides an all-in-one solution for streaming music that’s properly licensed for restaurants, retail stores, hotels and other commercial settings. Soundtrack Your Brand’s clients include iconic brands such as Lululemon, Uniqlo, Joe & The Juice, Aesop and Tag Heuer, to name a few.

Before Soundtrack Your Brand, Ola co-founded Spotify Business, a stand-alone effort to expand Spotify’s reach into B2B-streaming. Ola pivoted Spotify Business into Soundtrack Your Brand in 2018 as a fully independent brand and business. Prior to co-founding Spotify Business, Ola was the co-founder and COO of Beats Music, acquired by Apple and transformed into Apple Music. Through his multiple start-ups in the music-space, Ola has focused on unlocking that intrinsic value first in B2C and now in B2B.

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