Turn Up or Turn Down the Music?

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Music plays a fundamental role in creating ambience in your restaurant and bar. It sets the mood and tone and helps your guests make real connections with your venue and brand. Music is vitally important and along with light levels and temperature, it can create all manner of positive vibes and making a great impression on both loyal and new guests. Let’s take a look at how music can affect – and create – your atmosphere.   

We are already well aware that food, drink and service quality can make or break a guest’s visit. Music is just as important a part of the guest experience equation. The correct songs and style coupled with the right volume can mellow out or energize your guests. You can communicate your brand’s message through music selection.      

You also need to communicate with your staff members. They need to understand and adhere to your choices regarding music styles and volumes. To that end, we’re going to explore five “music periods” spanning the opening of your doors each day to closing. It may seem a bit overly complex but make no mistake, music management is every bit as crucial to your success as is managing your marketing campaigns and online presence. Your management team needs to know and enforce your rules regarding music.

  • Lunch: If you don’t serve lunch this doesn’t apply to you. For those who do open for lunch, it’s important to understand that your guests are more likely than not on a tight schedule. Most guests have 50 to 65 minutes for lunch, including travel time. Your job during the Lunch Time Period is to ensure your guests enjoy their lunch experience without having to compete with loud music to be heard. Music should be in the background, yet loud enough to hear. Consider contemporary, county, pop and maybe a bit of reggae. Avoid sending your guests running back to the office too pumped up, agitated or irritated.
  • Happy Hour: Generally a 3-hour period of time during which guests are looking to unwind a bit after work and engage with friends in a fun and lively environment, the Happy Hour Time Period calls for an upbeat, energetic tempo. You can pump up the volume but make sure you and your managers are monitoring the venue to keep the music from becoming loud enough to drive out guests, never to return.
  • Dinner: In most situations, guests desire to dine in a more relaxed atmosphere when having dinner with family and friends. Bearing that in mind, lower the volume of your music after happy hour. Not only does this help to relax guests, it can also serve to mark the end of happy hour. Your guests will want the music to be in the background so they can enjoy their meal and have conversations. There are trendy restaurants in both the casual and the casual-plus segments who crank up the volume for their guests. This strategy works for some venues but is definitely not for everyone. Such a strategy relies on understanding your demographics and knowing how to connect with your guests. Louder, more energetic dinner music tends to work well with the Millennial crowd.
  • Late Night: You should approach the Late Night Time Period similarly to Happy Hour, if not slightly more aggressively. Most bars have late-night features and themes that connect with guests through increased volumes, playing well to Millennials. This time period is a good time to play some edgier music, depending upon the crowd and demographic you are looking to entertain. Styles here could be pop, alternative and a bit of EDM.
  • Brunch: Generally reserved for Sundays, brunch can either be a real winner or a bump along the road. Since many guests look at brunch as a relaxing end to their weekend festivities, it’s best to avoid high volumes and off-the-wall music (in most cases). Classical, blues and jazz tend to enhance the guest experience during brunch.  Again, allow your guests the opportunity to engage in conversations and not fight over the music levels.

You’ll never please everyone with your music style and volume selection. You know how the old saying goes, after all. Still, you need to take appropriate action to create music that will fit your target demographic. Don’t allow every team member to turn the volume up and down or select their favorite music styles. Managers should be the go-to contacts if someone inquires about adjusting volumes or types of music. From my point of view, a well-produced and agreed upon music platform from a professional music developer will provide your team the opportunity to focus on serving awesome food and drinks and delivering quality guest experiences in a warm and friendly bar or restaurant.

You'll have the opportunity to learn more about music and the guest experience at the 2016 Nightclub & Bar Convention and Trade Show. Registration Now Open!


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