Win Over Hotel Guests with a Multi-Sensory Hotel Experience

As comedian Jim Gaffigan said in his skit, “The Best Thing About Hotels,” hotels are always nice that first night, but by the second night you start to think about how many other people slept on your mattress or have used your bathroom towel. With customer expectations at an all-time high, how can hotel brands keep guests happy after day one? One way is to create a multi-sensory hotel experience and tapping into the emotions that guests don’t even often know they want (e.g. the smell of freshly brewed coffee in the mornings). What is a multi-sensory hotel experience and why should hotels care about implementing one? To find out the answer to these questions, HT interviewed Mood Media’s Trey Courtney, Global Chief Products and Partnerships Officer, and Danny Turner, Global SVP of Creative Programming,

HT: With the emergence of VRBO, Airbnb and other online vacation rentals, how do hotel brands stand out in such a crowded space?

COURTNEY: With the new decade bringing more competition than ever before, hospitality brands need to adopt a multi-sensory experience. Tapping into guests’ emotions and giving them experiences they didn’t even know they wanted will keep brands on top. Using scent marketing, curated playlists and effective digital signage creates a lasting multi-sensory experience that builds brand loyalty and keeps guests coming back for more.

HT: What technologies can hotel brands use to create a multi-sensory hotel experience?

COURTNEY: Hotel brands can embrace a number of technologies to create a multi-sensory environment that delivers exceptional guest experiences. To connect with guests on a deeper level, it is essential that brands use a reliable platform that allows them to express their brand personality and connect via curated music in various locations within the property throughout the day. Hospitality digital signage, including digital directories, digital menus, video walls and digital promo boards, also serve to capture one's attention and create a multi-sensory ‘wow factor’ for guests. Using a platform that allows a hotel to customize their music and digital signage output based on time of day, specific property location, etc. is ideal.

HT: How can hotels create a “wow” factor with digital signage?

COURTNEY: The ways in which digital signage can impress and engage your guests are copious - use screens to provide wayfinding support, direct and welcome large groups, educate guests about your sustainability practices, highlight rewards/loyalty program benefits, drive patrons to specific areas of the property during peak times for your on-site restaurant, coffee shop, business center, etc. and more. The possibilities are endless. From video walls and digital promo boards to branded TV, digital signage solutions help hotels generate bigger business results and create a better guest experience.

HT: What is the technology behind scent marketing and what are some examples of it in the hospitality industry?

COURTNEY: The first stage of Scent Marketing is getting to know the client and discovering the end goal. From there, the ultimate goal is to find the perfect scent and the correct system to deliver that scent within their facility - and hopefully meet or exceed their expectations in the process. 

The two main technologies for disbursing scent include (1) a dry evaporative system or (2) an atomized disbursement system.  The hospitality space can use a variety of systems and scents based on the specific client’s needs and the size of their space. For example, the dry evaporative system is likely ideal for a client with a smaller space that wants a self-service system they can control. For clients in a mid-sized to larger space, we would likely recommend an atomized disbursement system using a full-service program/system mounted on a wall or ceiling. And hotel clients with the greatest amount of space, may be best suited for an atomized disbursement system that works through the hotel’s existing HVAC system. 

HT: Why is having a high-quality AV system extremely important to the customer experience?

COURTNEY: Creating high value digital and audio content can be a waste if you don’t invest in a high-quality AV system. By investing in a professional, commercial-grade AV system, brands can display content in a way that creates a lasting positive guest impression.

HT: What are some key points to consider when leveraging music in the hospitality space?

TURNER: We all recognize the incredible power that music has to speak in a common language. The role of music in shaping an intended experience is universally acknowledged. The approach of connecting your environment, and the intended experience for your guests, requires a methodical and deliberate approach. Amazing guest experiences rarely happen on ‘shuffle.’ 

Regardless of how your guests have arrived, or why they are there, there is no doubt that they have an expectation of an experience. That desired experience must always drive important decisions such as music choices. If you ask the question of how you want your guests to feel when they arrive, while they are there or maybe, most importantly, the experience they carry with them, you will begin to understand the connections. Understanding your intended experience will then help shape your music selections. If you start from the music selections first, say, for example, you really like Ed Sheeran, you’ve already short-circuited the creative process. Instead, begin with the environment, the intent and the experience, and then you can determine the right mix. Musically, are you looking for a sense of comfort and welcome? Then, perhaps you go with more familiar or classic tracks. If there is a component of urban discovery or adventure, then more emerging indie content may be your ideal direction. A more image-conscious boutique hotel may seek a more refined, sophisticated or curated sound. Look at your environment, examine your intended experience, and then find the musical key that connects the two.