The run up to Christmas is the most important trading time of the year for most hospitality businesses – which is why news of lockdown 2.0 was so unwelcome. Now thankfully on the other side of it, there’s a crucial window of time to get footfall going again, and give customers a safe and stress-free experience. With pubs, restaurants and cafés providing around 1.8 million jobs in the UK, hospitality operators are doing their utmost to protect both employees and customers. That means reminding people why they fell in love with eating out in the first place – and showing them they can have it once again, with a few changes to how things were before.
It’s hard for everyone at the moment; even as a fully Covid-compliant business, do the masks, distancing and frequent rounds of disinfecting create an atmosphere a customer would want to be in? Perception is everything, which means that making the environment comfortable, relaxed and familiar is key. And that’s where music comes in.
One effect of the recent lockdown – indeed, the whole point of it – has been a reduction in social interaction. Anecdotally, we know this can lead to more frequent bad-mannered behaviour from some customers, especially when mixed with anxiety in a busier setting. When you factor in the masks that people wear when addressing each other, it’s not hard to see how interaction has quickly become less personal and more strained. The positive energy and karma that music brings has become more important than ever for smoothing customers interactions.
“43% of customers surveyed in the retail sector said that repetition of Christmas songs was their main cause of irritation.”
Which brings us – finally, after a long and tumultuous period – to that most wonderful time of the year. Christmas is almost here. Everyone is keen to soak up some of that elusive festive cheer, helped along by some great Christmas tunes. Well-chosen music can create an unbeatable hospitality atmosphere that customers will want to be a part of. But by the same token, 43% of customers in one survey for the retail sector said that repetition of Christmas songs was their main cause of irritation. And staff can be affected too – a quarter of workers thought Christmas music playlists made them feel less ‘festive’ generally, with some saying their productivity and even their mental wellbeing was affected. So the right choice of music can even affect your bottom line, too.
To read more about how to choose the best festive music for your business this year, head over to this link.
It has long been known that eating and drinking are complex, multi-sensory experiences. The temperature, lighting, décor and sounds of the hospitality environment make a proven difference to how we -perceive what we consume. One study showed that music can convey the concepts of ‘sweetness’ and ‘bitterness’, driving associations in our brains to other life experiences and emotions. Another study proved that music can even have significant impact on people’s food choices, a potentially valuable concept for operators to be aware of at a time when certain menus are being promoted and comforting, traditional food is on offer.
“Music can convey the concepts of ‘sweetness’ and ‘bitterness’, driving associations in our brains to other life experiences and emotions”
If it’s allowed to do so, the hospitality industry will pull out all the stops this year to deliver a Christmas which is familiar, enjoyable and safe. So what should operators be mindful of when creating an atmosphere and choosing their music? Here are some things to consider:
- Avoid people having to raise their voices unnecessarily – either because the music is the wrong type or the wrong volume;
- It’s already a challenging and in some case hostile environment out there – don’t make it more so by not playing any music at all, or by choosing the wrong genre;
- The speed of customer throughput is likely to be different, due to the various restrictions and regulations. If you’re worried about customers feeling pressured to eat quickly, choose music which is likely to slow their pace and help them feel comfortable staying a while, if they’re able to;
- If there are fewer customers on site, other ambient sounds are likely to be more audible from kitchen or waiting staff – music can be altered to solve this issue too;
- Curated, tailored music services like Ambie can help you avoid repeats, create a more tailored soundtrack and get buy in from your team.
To read more about how music has helped other businesses create welcoming experiences and adapt to a changing marketplace during Covid-19, head over to our blog. To find out how Ambie can get your business moving – and growing – again, drop us a line here.
Have a great festive season!