Just like travel, music tells a story. It sparks emotion and relays a context, and it can make a big difference in how much a visitor connects with a destination. For Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, music is a vital part of the experience. So much so that the brand relies on its Director of Music + Brand Activations Lauren Bucherie to “soundtrack your stay.” Working with more than 70 hotels, Bucherie is a sort of global conductor whose work is heard by travelers around the world. “My job is to curate the sonic identity for where you are,” says Bucherie. She admits to using grand language for her job description, but the end result is almost primal. After all, music is emotional and sets a mood, but a playlist that skips from one genre or rhythm to another can be jarring, distracting, or disrupting. Conversely, the right songs or sequence might inspire a better mood or facilitate connections in a way only music can.
Bucherie, 33, is Kimpton’s first-ever musical director, a post she’s held since 2016. While Kimpton has long been devoted to unique guest experiences, she says that prior to her appointment the company relied on a musical provider that wasn’t “thoughtful” enough about each property. There’s a clear relationship between the hospitality industry and the entertainment industry, she says, and in recent years Kimpton’s top brass took steps to incorporate music as a prime element in its overall brand.
That includes building playlists for each property, as well as the different spaces within them. In total, that’s about 140 unique musical experiences, all curated individually and in tune with the brand’s design and creative direction. “I joke and say I’m ‘soundtracking your stay’, but that’s truly how I think of it,” says Bucherie, who’s based in Kimpton Hotel Van Zandt (605 Davis St. Tel: 512-542-5300. www.hotelvanzandt. com) in Austin, Texas. “That’s my creative process. I think, ‘What do you want to listen to while you’re having coffee?’ and ‘how is that different than when you’re laying out on the pool deck?’ There are all these little vignettes I can create.”
In collaboration with Kimpton’s Global Senior Vice President of Design and Creative Director Ave Bradley, Bucherie tells me her process for perfecting each environment’s song list has several key steps. “When we’re working on a new [property] or reconceiving a restaurant or other space, I starts a conversation with Ave about the space,” says Bucherie. “Ave is also a big music fan, so I love those conversations—we usually have a good talk about artists and where she finds inspiration, and things like textures or colors.
From that conversation, I’ll look at design elements and consider where in the world the particular property is located.” Bucherie says from there she’ll create a sample playlist, then through their collaboration builds it out more thoroughly to span entire 24-hour periods in a property’s various spaces. “[Each soundtrack] has a specific cadence for the time of day, so the playlist in the morning is different than the evening social hours, which we’re known for. That’s when people are gathering in the hotel ‘living room’ and we want the energy to be up a little bit. There’s plenty of shifting tempos.”