Curating Music & Optimising Ambience

November 2022

At CENSE, we think it is fair to say that dining out is no longer just about how Instagrammable the yellowtail carpaccio looks or how often your glass of Côtes de Provence is topped up.

More than ever, dining out has become an experiential and in some cases immersive event. As a result, diners are constantly looking for the next best thing to enhance their occasion. Spending power has therefore shifted from acquisition to experience.

For some, this might be a waiter on roller skates or an indoor firework strapped to a bottle of champagne.

But aside from great food and great service, what we personally look for is an incredible ambience that complements the identity of the brand.

While there are many contributing elements to a 'perfect ambience' including lighting and scent integration, one of the must have components within any hospitality venue is a kick-ass playlist.

Music has the ability to not only influence how much a guest spends and how long they stay in your venue, it also has the power to evoke emotion and create a unique relationship between you and your guests.

But it is not just as simple as sourcing a pre-populated Spotify playlist, plugging in and hitting play.

Hand-curating the perfect playlist is an art form and one which when done properly, will heavily shape your brand identity and ultimately tell everyone your story.

While not necessary for every venue, we find great value in having a different playlist for different times of the day, utilising tracks with lower BPM (beats per minute) during the afternoon and slowly introducing high BPM tracks as the evening progresses.

With this in mind, and depending on the nature of each venue, naturally during key periods of an evening, we equally see recommend increasing the volume of your playlist at the same time as decreasing the lighting state (There is method in the madness).

This is particularly recommended in bars where a noticeable shift in vibe, volume and lighting is almost guaranteed to encourage guests to stay longer and enjoy the ride.

It is vital that music is not overlooked or seen as an afterthought when launching new hospitality venues. At CENSE, we advise our clients to embrace music and playlist curation as part of their brand DNA from day one.

Harnessing the power of music, it allows you to communicate the language of your hospitality brand in exactly the same way that your menu represents who you are.

What comes next however, and what we see on a regular occasion is a lack of consistency in the execution, not just on your playlist and the volume but all elements of a dining experience.

At CENSE, we call it The Hospitality Triangle. Very much like the fire triangle you are taught at school, a dining experience should be based on the three key elements of Food, Service and Ambience.

Remove any of these three (get any of them wrong) and it will be that part of the experience the guest will remember the most. Get it right, and you are on the path to a very successful establishment.

Written by Steve Humpherson
Founder & Managing Director
CENSE - The Hospitality Agency

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