Birth Of A Hotel: Setting The ‘Mood’ … An Interview With The Scent & Sound Masters Of Mood Media

When it comes to setting a mood, sensory experiences are key. Sights, sounds and smells can all contribute to a guest’s perception of a hotel’s ambiance, and thus, their overall experience. To better understand the nuances of scent-scaping and dayparting (the art of crafting a mood through music), we spoke with Ben Teplitsky, senior director of business development at Mood Media, whose company has worked to craft guest experiences for major hotels and retail brands worldwide.What exactly does “setting the mood” of a hotel entail?
Really anything that involves the sensory experience. We work with music, scent, visuals, technology and sound systems, digital signage, even some in-room music technologies. We work with hotels before they even break ground, through engineering, speaker distribution, cable technology … We work to find a blend of mood and music and scent that makes sense not only for [the hotel’s] guests but for their location. After that we sample different music samples and set samples.

That’s an extensive list. What trends are you seeing in the industry?
A lot of the trends we focus on are “dayparting” [setting the mood through music]. Sometimes we even coordinate lights and music as well.

We’re also seeing hi-def footage on large video walls. Instead of necessarily seeing a billboard or TV channel like ESPN or Fox News, guests are seeing landscapes, passport channels, images from around the world, things that capture people’s attention whether they’re having a drink in the bar or waiting to check in.

A big trend in hospitality has been going global and going green – we of course accommodate that.

I’ve heard a lot about hotels having signature scents. Is that true?
Yes. It’s a similar strategy [to dayparting]. There are some very popular “hospitality scents.” In categories that means a clean and fresh scent, an odor neutralizer. In others, [hotels favor] scents that are a little more rich, a little more “frangrancy” as well as scents that really want to spark that memory. We also have ON scents – odor neutralizing scents. We use those frequently in places like fitness centers.

Are scents unique to hotels?
These are some popular broad scent choices. A white tea and fig scent is very popular, clean and fresh and distributes very well, is not intrusive. It covers the area very well for that lobby and welcoming scent. We have different types of scent distribution units – most are localized, some go through the HVAC units.

There’s another one that’s very popular in mid-scale hotels, green clover and aloe. A scent called Asia Garden is popular in casinos in Las Vegas.

Many clients do their own branded scent – when you walk into any one of their properties throughout the globe, [guests will] recognize it immediately. Some even change their scent seasonally.

So this is something that’s done just at the build or opening stage?
We can enhance the space with branded sound and branded fragrance, but we can also be a solution. We can fix an old property that was once a smoking hotel, or use a neutralizing scent on an old building that you’re going into.

Is a full-scale experience just a trend in higher end hotels?
Luxury and full-service hotels are doing more of a full sensory experience with music, scent and visuals, but some of the lower and mid-scale brands are offering smaller units or partial solutions.

Brands like Westin, Sheraton, Hilton, Doubletree like a full sensory experience. Select service hotels like Aloft, Elements and Four Points are really trending to use a lot more with branding and music. In “transitional” properties, which are traditionally less engaged, hotels are thinking that this is something they should do. It’s almost a subconscious requirement by travelers that a hotel doesn’t smell bad.

What’s cool about our role in this is we do a really good job of differentiating – it’s very possible to differentiate brand by sound and scent and visuals. We not only design but implement globally from a a consistency and branding experience.

When done correctly, these experience become part of the brand; part of the property. We also take our music and can feature it on social media, put it on Facebook pages, have it be kind of a fan experience.

[Image: Hotel Indigo in Atlanta, a Mood Media client]

The Birth of a Hotel” is a Gadling-exclusive series that details what happens as a hotel prepares to open. Follow along with the articles and updates at “The Birth Of A Hotel” page, here. We’d also love to hear from you, our readers. If you have a topic about hotel development or trends that you’d love to see explored, or leave a comment below.