Musicstyling’s Axel Jennewein on music and the hospitality guest experience

Music is an important part of the hospitality customer experience, playing a key role in your overall atmosphere and in how the guest feels when in your space. Musicstylling’s Axel Jennewein speaks to this.

Music may have a profound impact on wellbeing. Anecdotally, many people have experienced the calming power of music. We know the soothing feeling of listening to our favorite sounds or something designed to relieve stress.

There is also research to suggest that this is more than just anecdote. For example:

  • Receptive and intentional music listening were found in some studies to reduce pain. (Pubmed)
  • Shared music listening (e.g., concerts or radio programs) enhanced social connections and mood in older adults and in hospital patients. (Pubmed)
  • Music listening and carer singing decreased agitation and improved posture, movement, and wellbeing of people with dementia. (Pubmed)
  • Music has a positive effect on emotional well-being, including improving mood, decreasing anxiety, and managing stress.
  • Music can have a beneficial effect on brain chemicals such as dopamine and oxytocin. (AARP)
  • Music may help lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. (AARP)

Music is also an important part of your spa guest experience and the hospitality customer experience as a whole, playing a key role in your overall atmosphere and in how the guest feels when in your space. We wanted to explore this topic with one of the people who creates soundscapes for spas and hotels, Axel Jennewein.

Jennewein is Managing Director of Musicstyling, a luxury hotel music consultancy with offices in Europe, North America, and Asia, that specializes in playlist creation, working with the most high profile brands worldwide.

We spoke with Jennewein about how music enhances the guest experience and some of the projects Musicstyling has worked on around the world.

Tell us about how you came to be doing what you are today

I once ran a boutique hotel in Spain and, previous to that, I was a professional volleyball player for 15 years. So, I’ve had a diverse career, but my passion has always been music and when I created soundtracks for the boutique hotel I saw a big difference in the dwelling time of the customers in the restaurant. They spent more time, stayed longer and felt happier to come back again. So, I thought it might be a good idea to test this out in the field and see if other people have the same experience if you adjust the musical background to fit in with all the other sensory impacts in a guest experience. And the rest is history. It does work. It makes a huge difference.

What we try to do at MusicStyling is translate a vision into sound. We go out and meet our partners face to face. We spend time in a different outlets and translate what we feel in that outlet into a fitting soundtrack, and we make sure they always have the right music at the right time in the right outlet.

I founded the company in 2004 and I’ve seen my little baby grow from little tiny fetus to a spotty teenager now.

How do you determine what a fitting soundtrack is?

Over the years of our experience we have played around with different approaches, different genres, different artists, different tempo levels to really see what works in what environment and in what situation. That is an ever evolving learning curve for us. After 18 years doing that, we have a good idea of what works, but there’s always something new out there that we are more than happy to try out.

Our experts hand pick from our library of several million tracks to create the right soundtrack.

We have tracks from existing artists and we also work with artists and composers to create our own material. For example, we created the Five Element Series spa collection for Banyan Tree with musician, composer, and DJ  Gus Till.

Can you talk about the wellness experience and music?

We created something that’s called “Immersive.” We recorded our own material in 3D with Dolby Atmos, creating a soundscape where the spa guest is immersed in the music through a surround sound system and living within the sound. It flows with the treatment, and changes according to the technique the guest is experiencing and can also work with lighting. It enhances the overall experience in a treatment room and could have beneficial health effects of lowering heart rate, reducing anxiety, and aiding recovery. This has not been 100% scientifically proven but we know that it definitely has an impact. We have tested it in our own working environment in Hong Kong where we have our own sound sauna, like a resting room with surround sound built in. We developed different soundscapes to reduce stress and recover from jet lag, and it does work.

How about in the hospitality world in general?

We want to make sure is that a hotel brand’s clientele has the best sonic experience that we can create and that depends on what the brand wants to achieve in those outlets. We work with the Ritz Carlton and Four Seasons. We do all the music for W hotels. We create a soundtrack that fits the ambiance, and we make sure every single W hotel in the world sounds within those parameters but has a 20%-25% a possibility of localized and regionalized music content to just make it a little bit different. So, for the recognition factor, if you are a W hotel guest, you will recognize that soundtrack all around the world, and that creates a loyalty to the brand. Then we can put different touches in different areas of the hotel to make an even more unique experience.

Tell me about some of your projects that you’re working on

We are working very closely with Aman resort. We just did a a fantastic project very close to our heart with Aman New York. We do work with the spas at Mandarin Oriental Hotels. We have been working with JW Marriott Hotels for last 15 or 16 years and are currently working on the first Live installation of “Immersive” for the JW Marriott Shanghai. There is a lot going on.

Spa Executive is published by Book4Time, the leader in guest management, revenue and mobile solutions for the most exclusive spas, hotels, and resorts around the globe. Learn more at book4time.com.

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