Love is in the air, but lo-fi is in the airwaves

Study reveals how hospitality venues can attract first-daters – as a smart wellness coach explains why venues need to consider brainwaves

Something about spring and summer makes the season perfect for getting back into the dating scene, whether the hot weather or the brighter evenings. Working with our neuroscientist Dr Julia Jones (AKA Dr Rock), we reveal, with the results of our recent survey, how hospitality businesses can help to calm the first date nerves with music.

In our survey* we discovered that when it comes to the UK’s most preferred hospitality venues for a first date, cafes (40%) and pubs (40%) were ranked the favourite rendezvous hot spots.

Love is in the atmosphere

Love is all about compatibility, but external factors play a crucial part on a first date. When asked about how a venue’s atmosphere and music influence first dates, almost two-thirds (61%) of respondents said that they prefer there to be music playing in the background of a date. Most said that music helps them relax (64%), reduces awkwardness (57%) and helps to break the ice (42%). Others also said it puts them in a happy mood (34%) and gives them something to talk about (33%) with their date.

Can you hear the love tonight?

The choice of music can also be crucial in setting the right atmosphere. More than half (57%) shared that they would prefer to hear chill-out music, like lo-fi, during a first date, which can be perfect for those first date jitters.

Dr Julia Jones, Smart Wellness Coach for PPL PRS, explains that “Listening to music that you find relaxing can help reassure your brain that you’re in a safe environment – so the stress response can be disengaged. Timing your breath with music to slow inhales and extend exhales also deactivates that ancient stress circuit and engages your relaxation mode. This is because our breath engages the vagus nerve that regulates the relaxation response.”

The next favourite genre of music for first dates was pop, being ranked second by 45% of people, and RnB – one of the more romantic genres – followed as 27% of daters preferred the genre.

When it comes to building an atmosphere that’s good for business and lends a hand to the lovebirds of society, here are some things for hospitality venues to consider.

The time of day

Setting the mood ready for when daters arrive is key – so opening shift workers will not have to worry about witnessing any awkward first dates, as the more popular times for budding couples to meet for a first date are evenings (65%), followed by afternoons (22%), with having something to eat alongside a cocktail or coffee seemingly a winning combination.

Menu options

We also found that singletons plan on sharing a meal on afternoon dates (13%) and evening dates (35%), venues could entice new customers with date (or mate) night offers, discounting meals and/or drinks when bought in pairs. Set menus or drinks deals could also help bars and restaurants to cement their status as a trendy date location.

The music playing

Depending on what you specialise in as a venue, switching up the tracks you play during common date hours could lead to a couple becoming regulars, remembering your venue as where their relationship began.

We asked UK singletons which genre of recorded music they’d like to hear on a first date from different venues, and this is what they shared:

Dr Julia Jones said: “Studies show that our brainwaves often synchronise to the music we hear. This means that you can use slow, relaxing music to slow your brainwaves and enter relaxing brain states.” So, if you know you’re going to have a string of nervous daters in your venue, you can use music to ease their experience.

A word for the wise is that the most important thing for hospitality and daters alike is making sure the atmosphere and mood boost the relationships, new and old, within the customer base and employees to ensure that everyone has a good time – whether done through music or playing on another of the senses. The atmosphere created could be the reason someone scores a second date.

References:

* A survey commissioned by PPL PRS of 1000 UK respondents by Attest in June 2023

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