Of Sound Technology
With customer retention becoming a challenge as well as an opportunity to stand out, hotels are striving to provide the best audio experience to their guests
By Mini Ribeiro
The modern hotel standard presents new challenges to manage and integrate it all. Making a unique blend of technologies work seamlessly to give guests the best audio experience in a hotel, is imperative today. And that is something hotels are well-aware of. Ambient sound not only defines the mood and setting in a hotel, but also, leaves a lasting impression in the minds of the guests. Integrated audio solutions which offer entertainment, communications and security systems, are thus preferred.
Reiterating its importance, Tribhuvan Chauhan, chief engineer, JW Marriott Mumbai, Sahar, states, â€śPoor quality sound can be frustrating and a good quality sound system can make you swing. Audio quality, is thus an important need in todayâ€™s hotels.â€ť
It is mandatory for the hoteliers to be aware of which audio trends are creating ripples in the market and also ensure their hotel is kitted out with the best possible equipment to meet the needs and expectations of their guests. “All hotels are using integrated high-end audio, lighting, video systems, control solutions and best-suited technological equipment to provide the sights, sounds and an exceptional experiences for their guests. They are trying to adapt themselves to the fast-evolving high-tech world of audio systems,” reveals Prashant Govindan, senior director, India & Sri Lanka operations, Professional Solutions, Harman International.
Manish Kumar, chief engineer, The Lalit Chandigarh, declares, â€śWe use audio and video in such a way, as to craft the most appealing atmosphere possible for our guests.â€ť Each area of a hotel has an acoustic signature, as well as a different audio requirement. The size, shape, furnishings, and physical materials, combine to define the audio quality. Since it is generally impractical to make architectural changes in a hotel banquet or conference room, deployment of the sound system, especially the positioning of microphones and loudspeakers becomes critical.
Most hotels have now migrated the audio related responsibilities to the IT department. Chauhan quips, â€śThe IT department ensures that there are no issues with the software for the audio systems, as that can affect the guest experience.â€ť In some hotels, the engineering and IT teams work in conjunction, to provide uninterrupted music to the hotel guests. After all, to bridge the gap between technology and the world of professional audio, is crucial in a hotel.
Technology, comes handy for most hotels, enabling them to offer the best to their guests and simplify things. Hence, they willingly embrace the latest. Owing to technology, bespoke audio solutions, based on the theme and dĂ©cor of any area of a hotel is possible now and enables the hotel to create the perfect desired ambience.
There are a plethora of options to choose from today, which further, make the work of the IT department simple. Suresh Kumar, director of engineering at Park Hyatt Hyderabad, elaborates, â€śWireless solutions, USB, Blue tooth, control through mobile phones, centralised solutions. Also, multi-participant sound systems for conferencing, multi-language systems for interpretation, etc.â€ť He adds, â€śThe expectation of travellers is quality. Most guests are well travelled and know the latest trends in technology advancement, we have to ensure that their expectations are met and quality is not compromised.â€ť
Again, one thing is certain, luxury hotels are upping the ante for high-tech, simple, guest control, even when it comes to audio facilities and that is possible only with technology. After all, guests nowadays, prefer having controls within their reach.
Chauhan opines, â€śI think the control which technology has brought to the music system quality, is amazing. Everything can be monitored. Equalisation at different zones and selecting the right music for different areas and thus providing the right sound quality, is possible.” He adds, â€śOur hotel is comparatively new and we use only modern technology. At present we have system software to take care of the mixing and equalisation for every zone which creates a great ambiance for the guest.â€ť
Hotels do not compromise on the quality of the audio systems they use. Suresh informs, â€śWe have audio facilities for different locations. The bar has three varieties of audio, in-house music, guest’s own and a DJ. Signature music is played at speciality restaurants, soft soothing instrumental music is played in the spa and banquet audio, has signature music for social events and conferences.â€ť
A systemâ€™s sound quality is only as good as its weakest link, so providing clear, high fidelity audio at the inputs, is the key to consistent success. And the IT departments ensures that. Manish acquiesces. â€śThe music systems installed should be up-to-date. In different areas of a hotel, music systems which have automatic volume and source control facilities, powerful and discreet audio, should be used.â€ť
JBL, Bose, Harman, ohm, Void are typically popular choices for hotels owing to their technology offerings, service and flexibility. Yet, each hotel looks for different functions when selecting a brand. “HARMAN leads in the design and manufacture of professional audio equipment and has award-winning brands like AKG Â®, Harman KardonÂ®, InfinityÂ®, AMXÂ®, BSS AudioÂ®, CrownÂ®, dbxÂ®, JBLÂ®, LexiconÂ®, SoundcraftÂ® and MartinÂ® Lighting in its portfolio. These products offer intelligent and high-performance systems with the latest technologies in sound engineering. Our solutions are well-suited to deliver powerful audio management for hotels, which includes multi-media speakers in conference rooms, live or background music in lobbies, elevators, and poolside, or broadcast announcements throughout the facility,” Govindan Shares.
Manish cautions, â€śOne needs to involve senior management for procurement, as getting their support prevents a struggle with the vendor. Make a clear and extensive list of your requirements. Be careful while you select and ensure the vendor meets all your requirements. The selected system must ensure that you can accommodate future technologies and upgrade.â€ť
For Chauhan, â€śError free audio with classic quality and superior audibility,â€ť is the criteria. Suresh adds, â€śSound quality and support, is the main thing we look for while selecting the audio system. Even though most of the sound equipment are imported, but if they do not have branches locally, that is a real challenge when maintenance is required. Thus, while selecting imported products we look at local and the nearest available support.â€ť
Maintenance is equally crucial and many hotels opt for service agreements and annual maintenance contracts. However, JW Marriott Mumbai, Sahar relies only on their in-house AV maintenance team, to take care of the basic maintenance and repair of the equipment. Suresh adds, â€śMost of the maintenance is with the in-house team, sophisticated software driven systems are with vendor support, either local or from the nearest available support.â€ť
Hi-tech audio amenities may still come at a price, but hotels realise the importance of technology, especially when it comes to audio systems, as it gives them the opportunities, tools and solutions, they need, to create memorable experiences for their guests.
Manish succinctly sums up, â€śUsing hi-tech, robust and ample audio systems, we generate ambiances that set us apart from the rest of the pack.â€ť Clearly, every hotel endeavours to be distinctive, for its guests.