Brand Guru Simon A. Faure-Field Wields Music and Fragrance Like An Artist To Create A Compelling Palette of Mood And Emotional Experiences

Boutique hotels, small properties typically offering an enhanced level of service and marketed to the affluent business guest, are no strangers to the concept of immersing their visitors in a unique and often sensory experience. One brand consultant in Singapore, however, has been taking that prescription to the next level, advising boutique properties in the island republic and beyond on how they can deploy stimuli such as music and fragrance to create a specific mood, a brand experience or simply relax the guests and allow them to chill out within the hotel surroundings.

Simon A. Faure-Field, CEO of Equal Strategy says that creating a pleasant environment no longer cuts it in the competitive world of hospitality. “A hotel is effectively in the space business and what is important is how proprietors pay attention to that space in ‘sensory’ terms. Do the guests react to the space?  does the space stimulate positive emotion or negative and/or neutral emotion? A hotelier who does not pay attention to the sounds which permeate a given space, or the scents that can be discerned in the air, is wasting some of the most powerful branding tools available to them”.

According to Faure-Field, businesses are no longer just selling products anymore, they are selling experiences. “When you walk into a shop you don’t just see things, you hear things, you smell things. Music sets the mood, and the sense of smell is directly connected to the brain’s centres for memory and emotion. Customers remember whether a space smells nice or not – it cannot be neglected”.

Faure-Field started his business in 1998 providing companies with telephone recorded answering services designed to help them project a consistent brand image when interacting with customers. His company’s services currently cover telephone on hold messaging, messages broadcast within retail businesses and hotels, the creation of music playlists and fragrance deployment which is the most sophisticated system available in Asia.

Faure-Field recently installed solutions in two new boutique hotels in Singapore, Naumi and M Hotel. Naumi, which opened in September on the premises of a pre-existing property – the Metropole Hotel – is the brainchild of the Hind Group. True to the theme of ‘eco-architecture’, the 40 room Naumi hotel harmonises nature integrally with the building’s design, offering guests “a jungle sanctuary in the heart of the bustling city” according to its developer, Indian entrepreneur Surya Jhunjhnuwala. M Hotel meanwhile is a more conventional 413 room design-focused boutique hotel in the heart of Singapore’s financial district which focuses on providing modern technological amenities to guests in a chic setting.

Naumi features a refreshingly stylish ‘chill out’ bar concept in the spacious lobby of its Seah Street entrance, which overlooks one side of the illustrious Raffles Hotel. Faure-Field has advised the proprietors to install a combination of ginger and lime fragrance combined with a classy selection of downtempo and lounge coupled to nu-groove elements interwoven with touches of vocal and Latin house, leading through to upbeat melodies and intoxicating rhythms in the later hours which give guests the sensation of being in a cool and chic night club from the moment they check in. Visual aspects such as interior design and bar configuration add to this sense of being in a modish bar rather than the lobby of a hotel.

For M Hotel, Faure-Field has installed a combination of fragrance and music in the property’s lobby and ‘music styling’ in the hotel’s Cafe 2000 and buffet area, whilst separate playlists for the hotel’s spa, pool and business centre are also in the works. The lobby is permeated by a signature gingerly fragrance which adds a subtle but pleasing Asian flavour to this Asian hotel property.

For the hotel’s Cafe 2000, Faure-Field was given free rein by Mark Gailey, Director of Food & Beverage at the hotel, to go to town in developing playlists which would correspond with the feeling of various times of the day. Working closely together and reviewing every single track in a playlist comprising literally hundreds of songs (Faure-Field has access to over 2 million fully copyrighted tracks), Gailey and Faure-Field created mood settings for breakfast, lunch, mid-afternoon and dinner ranging from Latin, Cuban and Bossanova to a light sprinkling of jazz with a European and South American undertone. Says Faure-Field, “Music, tempo, and genre were all critical in creating the appropriate mood and momentum to the time of day, corresponding to how diners would be feeling and their state of alertness and arousal at different periods of the day.”

Mr Faure-Field is the only consultant in the Asia Pacific specializing in combining music with fragrance to synergise a consistent brand experience for customers. His work is solidly grounded in behavioural science research and draws extensively upon the finds of researchers in the field of effects of background music and atmosphere on retail environments. In the retail arena, studies by Areni and Kim, for example, noted that music can be a critical component of store atmosphere, playing a role in the decision-making processes. Their studies, and others show that if shoppers stay longer and travel slowly through a store, they are likely to purchase more. Another study by Milliman found that the tempo of music can affect a shopper’s pace of movement around the store. For this reason, the music tempo at Borders is slow and relaxed. Creating the right ambience in a store through music can have other benefits too, such as facilitating discussion between customers and sales staff, something that can be carried over into the hospitality field.

Faure-Field collaborates with world renowned fragrance house Belmay and Australian company Brandaroma to design fragrances which can be customised for particular brands. The system, which creates an aerosolised fragrance deliverable through the property’s air conditioning system, also has the ability to cancel out malodorous smells like body odour and residual cooking smells emanating from kitchens and food preparation areas. Odourfoyl has the ability to actually change the genetic structure of bad smells so that the brain can no longer recognise them.

Faure-Field’s consulting company, Equal Strategy (Singapore) Pte Ltd has also worked extensively with major hotel chains like Westin, Starwood, and Pan Pacific on similar spatial branding solutions. The company is the only one of its kind in the Asia region advising forward-thinking hoteliers on the deployment of these sensory brand techniques.

About Equal Strategy

Equal Strategy delivers “music”, “fragrance” and “recorded telephone messages on hold” to businesses in a scientific way that enhances the overall customer experience of the brand and causes the customer to stay longer and buy more! Equal Strategy is the only company in Asia that specialises in deploying “music” and “fragrance” solutions to business where the two senses are stimulated in synergy with each other. Sound and smell deliver stimuli directly to the memory centres of the brain, influencing behaviour and creating suggestion at both the conscious and unconscious levels. Decades of behavioural research into the habits of consumers has found that “consumer arousal” can be either stimulated or suppressed through the use of mood settings like music and fragrance.