Branding, as far as the hospitality business is concerned, is now no Ionger just about brand standards, logos on everything which can be monogrammed or even service excellence. In a business characterized by visual and tactile experiences, comes a sensory experience which looks to be the next big thing with hotels looking to imprint their individual brand of hospitality on to their guests.
Equal Strategy scientifically delivers to the hotel and hospitality industry a combination of music styling, fragrancing and telephone music and messaging, enhancing the overall customer experience of a hotel’s or hotel chain’s brand and stimulating pleasing guest experiences of interacting with that brand.
Decades of behavioural research into the habits of consumers has found that “consumer arousal” can be either stimulated or suppressed through the use of mood settings like music and fragrance. Equal Strategy applies this technology and thinking to hotel guests by delivering sound and smell stimuli directly to the memory centres of the brain, influencing behaviour and creating suggestion at both the conscious and unconscious levels. This can support and extend the brands of hotels and hotel chains and indeed any business (retail, consumer, etc.) which communicates to audiences in private or public space.
Equal Strategy delivers behavioural influences through the most sophisticated technologies available today. The company also provides a full spectrum of customer consultation and support services to maximize the effectiveness of its visionary environmental branding solutions for the hospitality industry. Equal Strategy is the only company in Asia to consult and advise hotel clients on the deployment of integrated sensory branding solutions.
The scent marketing portion of its business was based on the fact that around 80 percent of the brand decisions humans make are based on smell. This is because the sense of smell is the only sense directly connected to the brain’s centres for memory and emotions. The use of scent markeitng in hospitality environments is starting to gain more traction in Asia in recent years and hoteliers are beginning to harness the power of smell.
For example, Starwood’s Westin Hotel brand uses a white tea fragrance in all its lobbies worldwide. Another chain which uses its own exclusive ‘signature’ fragrance is the Shangri-La. These ‘signature’ fragrances have been developed specially for the brand, are used exclusively by those clients, and are intended to be associated with the hotel brand over the long term — months or years.
Other, smaller, hoteliers the company works with — often boutique properties — do not always require a ‘signature’ fragrance, but even so Equal Strategy tries to ensure that other properties are not using the exact same scent so as to preserve some sense of exclusivity.
Explains Equal Strategy Chief Executive Officer Simon Faure-Field, “We partnered with Brandaroma — the world’s leading provider of aroma marketing solutions — in order to substantially enhance the quality and effectiveness of our clients’ environments using fragrances which engage customers, evoking the most appropriate memories and mood. By selecting the right fragrances we can create a relaxed environment, reducing stress and anxiety levels in customers, increase sales and build guest loyalty.”
Tuned In, Turned On
Businesses place great emphasis on the look of their customer environments, and often overlook the ambience and mood created by music and how this affects their customers. Music styling is so flexible that it can be used to support strategic positioning of a brand, tactical requirements and motivate customer behaviour.
Studies show that using the right music increased supermarket sales by 38.3 percent. What’s more, other research indicates that 40 percent of shoppers made an unplanned purchase after hearing an effective audio message. This is not your ordinary background music.
Says Faure-Field, “Our licensed libraries have over two million tracks covering all major genres.” Interlacing audio messages helps retailers inform and entertain shoppers helping them make the right buying decision. Daily updates and scheduling keep content fresh and relevant to suit time, and day of week. Multi-site retailers keep sites consistent using our industry leading remote updating technology.”
“The beauty of the service for hoteliers is that they are able to use our suit of music styling tools to control mood, theme and ambience throughout the public areas of their hotels such as lobbies, restaurants, spas and corridors. Music played in hotel corridors can also be used to effectively mask noise from inside guest rooms, thus ensuring a measure of guest privacy. Music is a truly versatile sensory tool with a range of useful applications.”
Equal Strategy is involved intimately in the music selection process. As with fragrance selection, music selection involved management and staff at all levels and takes a focus group approach to determining what is considered the best mix of genres and play lists. “From this client consultation we revert back with a specific recommendation on the kind of music to be played within the property, and how that music selection is varied at different time during the day, or depending on how a specific hotel space is being used,” explains the dynamic sensory guru.
Calling The Shots
The telephone is the most frequently used and most important touch point. Do callers to hotels have an experience that is as impressive as the brand’s advertising? For instance, guests with a phone inquiry are often left hanging on a silent line for ages. If they have to be put on hold, this is a great opportunity to inform guests about a property. Equal Strategy helps convert a potential source of guest frustration into an entertaining and informative experience.
Enhancer, Equal Strategy’s end-to-end telephone messaging consulting service, provides callers with music and messages on hold, converting a source of frustration into an informative, brand- aligned, and even enjoyable experience. The company works with some of the best Asian and international voice over talent to select the best image for their hotel clients’ brands.
Meanwhile, Singapore’s M Hotel has become the latest boutique property in Asia to adopt 360 degree sensory branding solutions created by Equal Strategy. The hotel brought in Equal Strategy to devise a sophisticated brand atmosphere in the property’s public spaces which would create a pleasing environment and promote guest loyalty. Scent marketing and styled background music at its best.
For M Hotel, Faure-Field has installed a combination of fragrance and music in the property’s lobby and ‘music styling’ in the hotel’s Café 2000 and buffet area, whilst separate play lists for the hotel’s spa, pool and business centre are also in the works. The lobby is permeated by a signature ginger and lily fragrance which adds a subtle but pleasing Asian flavour to this Asian hotel property.
For the hotel’s Café 2000, Faure-Field was given free reign by Mark Gailey, Director of Food & Beverage at the hotel, to go to town in developing play lists which would correspond with the feeling of various times of the day. Working closely together and reviewing every single track in a play list comprising literally hundreds of songs, Galley and Faure-Field created mood settings for breakfast, lunch, mid afternoon and dinner ranging from Latin, Cuban and bossanova to a light sprinkling of jazz with a European and South American undertone.
Says Faure-Field, “Music, tempo and genre were all critical in creating the appropriate mood and momentum to the time of day, corresponding to how diners would be feeling and their state of alertness and arousal at different periods of the day.”