Why your hotel needs a sonic identity

Give credit to the leadership of the Hotel Revival, a JdV by Hyatt hotel, in the heart of Baltimore’s historic Mount Vernon neighborhood for hiring Jason Bass as director of Culture and Impact and contracting with Ryan Rhodes (aka DJ Impulse) as its first director of content and sonic identity. They bring something to the public spaces of the hotel that resonates with next-generation travelers – authentic sound and cultural programming in sync with their surrounding community.

A community-driven effort led by atypical “hoteliers” that has recognizable impact is part of a noteworthy shift as hospitality and its ever-changing traveling communities start to come out of the COVID-induced hibernation. New times require new programming for both operators and guests.

DJ Impulse develops original content for the hotel’s owned media channels, including the social media accounts for the hotel, Topside and B-Side, telling the stories of Hotel Revival to increase awareness among external audiences of the company’s impact efforts and community partnerships. Impulse, through his own photojournalism and videography efforts, also provides an inside look at the hotel’s facilities and offerings to generate corporate and social bookings, as well as spur individual reservations.

Bass develops and oversees the cultural programming and community impact efforts on behalf of the hotel that support inclusive outreach. He is out in the community searching for talent and perhaps signing a new supplier who just needs an opportunity to grow.

Of the many collaborations between the two, they come together to curate Lit Lobby, in which local DJs play music on Friday and Saturday evenings from 4-7 p.m. to “set the vibe” for the peak guest arrival windows.

Ryan Rhodes (aka DJ Impulse) and (r.) Jason Bass. Credit: Isaiah Winters

The two friends, both of whom report to the GM and generally work from the hotel lobby or out in the community, actually have a lot of hospitality-related experience and suggest hoteliers should find true expertise to drive new and now expected content, as opposed to asking the F&B or front desk managers to take on these additional roles. It is their sole focus, they have no preconceived or industry biases – and it’s not just a one-time thing. They have a line item in the budget and expect it to grow as they help drive business with their outreach.

Sound gimmicky? What’s the ROI? Well, it might be too early to measure true ROI as the industry just starts to rebound, but the 20-year veteran global DJ said he can observe people enjoying the vibe, which usually translates into ancillary revenue. Because he also creates social media posts, Impulse is definitely growing engagement, as well. The pair recently created a watch party for The Real Housewives of Potomac, including a short interview clip with the series lead, and captured some 2,329 social media views – influencer-like numbers.

The pair also has some advice on how to best manage a hotel’s social media accounts: capture real moments in the hotel and share it to build up the brand, the sense of experience and authenticity. “Anyone can create content with price points and a call to action,” Bass said. “If you want something not selling you hard and has interesting things about it we got you.”

Why does a hotel need a director of content and sonic identity? “The reason it works well is because I am on site six days a week, touching and seeing everything going on,” DJ Impulse said. “When we do things unique, it feels more authentic. The music we are programming is local and authentic.”

Hotel Revival lobby, where DJ Impulse and Jason Bass “set the vibe.”

The pair smirks when asked about their likes and dislikes about hotel operations, but again has some broader advice.

“We have been disrupted and have an opportunity to take a note of what the market is doing,” Bass said. “It is changing. We have a catalyst. It’s a pivotal moment and we have an opportunity to find ways to improve and use things differently. Look at QR codes – they were invented but the behavior was not in place to fully adopt them. Now everyone is using them. What can we explore to hone in on experiences to create for guests? We need to get the right people in room to answer those questions – like DJs and people in the community. Stop using old hiring practices where you want people to fit a culture because that is a bias. Be supportive and open for change.”