One of the biggest challenges facing the hotel industry is maintaining a steady level of income throughout the year and, indeed, throughout the week.
In city tourist destinations weekend occupation is usually high, whereas midweek it can be much lower and so rates are often lower to attract custom. To address this issue, Spanish chain Petit Palace Hotels is trying a different approach in which individually-tailored, high quality background music systems play a vital role.
Petit Palace Hotels (PPH) establishes hotels in areas where there are good communication routes and high commercial activity - such as Madrid and Barcelona - to attract both business as well as leisure customers. One of the challenges facing the company is that licenses for building hotels in these areas are becoming increasingly rare, thanks to geography or population density.
For this reason, the company’s policy is to adopt historic buildings and sensitively convert them for hospitality use.
Of equal importance to PPH is offering a complete experience, unique to the brand. Carefully chosen, high quality background audio is fundamental to this and, with converted historic buildings that often feature interesting and attractive architecture, establishing the right atmosphere without visually intrusive modern equipment is all the more important.
“In the hospitality industry there are many different levels, so recognising the competition is very important,” says Felipe Morales, Madrid SuperHost at PPH. “The customers we want to attract are not necessarily those who would, for example, choose a franchised brand hotel or the likes of AirBnB. We are developing a portfolio of boutique hotels with historic or cultural charm and our aim is to provide an experience that our customers cannot get elsewhere.”
He continued: "Experience’ is a much-used - and often misused - word in the hospitality industry. However, it is entirely appropriate for what PPH aims to achieve.
"Whether it’s a business person who is seeking a quiet place to relax or prepare for their busy schedule, or a long haul tourist visitor who is planning to immerse themselves in luxury shopping opportunities. We are there to help prepare their trip and advise.”
As previously mentioned, a key part of this ‘experience’ is the ambience within the hotel. A discreet, architecturally-sympathetic background music system is heard almost subconsciously, working in harmony with other sensory elements like décor, lighting and aroma to help the guest immediately feel at home. All of these elements are finely-balanced at every PPH hotel.
Installation company COM2000 has worked with PPH for many years and the company’s managing and technical director Enrique Bravo Peco has made it his personal task to constantly monitor the technology available for the hotel industry and to advise PPH on the best way to achieve their goals, as well as installing and maintaining the equipment.
“As part of PPH’s ongoing programme of new and refurbished hotels, we have been asked to specify a background music system that would blend in with the décor, as well as provide a clear and balanced sound,” he says. “Yamaha CIS loudspeakers are tastefully designed and very discreet. Despite their small size, they also sound very good, even at low levels. One of the problems with so many speaker systems is that they lose definition at low levels. With the Yamaha speakers we don’t have this problem.”
Hand-in-hand with aesthetics and audio quality, the choice of soundtrack is very important. The PPH marketing department individually selects playlists for each public area of every hotel, which are streamed from Spotify. Throughout the day, the atmosphere in these areas is precisely tailored to suit the mood, with all the sensory elements subtly changing as time progresses, working seamlessly together to deliver the perfect ambience for each moment of every 24 hour period.
“It’s all about creating a luxurious, relaxed and approachable atmosphere, carefully planned at all times to match the expectations of our guests,” says Felipe. “Having made so much effort to choose the right music in our hotels, we want our guests to enjoy it. However, if instead they want to focus on something else, such as an intimate conversation or writing an email, the music shouldn’t interfere. Getting the balance right is really important. The music should never interfere; it is there to enhance the customer experience, not dominate it.”
As well as the aesthetics and audio quality of the speakers, a comprehensive ‘behind the scenes’ infrastructure ensures that this careful balancing act is maintained at all times.
“Yamaha audio processors and amplifiers are equally important to the success of PPH installations,” says
Enrique. “The whole system means that we are able to deliver the aesthetics and sound quality that they are looking for. Dedicated iPad controls also mean that, whenever necessary, the management teams are able to discreetly control the system manually to suit the occasion.”