There is a lot that goes into creating experiential travel. At its core, it should appeal to (as well as dazzle) the senses, and it should be as richly multi-sensory as possible. One aspect where many tour companies, cruise lines, restaurants, etc. miss the mark is when it comes to music.
I remember being on a cruise on a yacht in the French Riviera, and the top deck bar was playing “Margaritaville”, reggae, and some US country. It did not fit in to the environment, the energy was off, and almost no one was at the bar. I finally asked if we could play some of the music I brought, and they agreed. Within a half an hour, the bar was packed, and the bartenders asked to borrow more music to play throughout the cruise.
I can’t tell you how often during my travels that I notice the wrong music ruining the moment, nor can I emphasize enough how important having the right music is to the experience. Now, I know what you’re thinking, music is subjective, and everyone’s taste is different, or you might be thinking, “hey, I love reggae”. Yeah, yeah, I get that, but here’s the thing, to really curate an authentic, special experience, the music ideally fits the destination. Reggae, for instance, is going to work a lot better in Jamaica or elsewhere in the Caribbean.
During our Zoom Vacations tours, I play a lot of different music at our events and excursions, and people often ask me to share my compilations, which I am happy to do. Sharing good music is good Karma. Even better, I have four “stations” that I always suggest that work really well for cocktails at home or anywhere. It is mostly downtempo to uptempo dance music with soulful vocal styles.
1. Samantha James. If you’ve been to my house or on a Zoom Vacation, you have heard Samantha James, as well as similar music of her genre. When you create a Samantha James station on Pandora, Google Play, Apple Music, etc. you are going to hear sexy, sultry vocals, which are relaxing with just enough beat to keep a nice energy, without being so obtrusive that it gets in the way of conversation. I love, love, love, this station for things like island hopping, chilling with friends at a beautiful beach, or enjoying a dinner party. I also like to listen to this when I first get on a plane, as it puts me in a great relaxed mood.
2. Lisa Shaw. If you like the relaxed, easy listening of Samantha James but want a little more urban and R&B vibe, then Lisa Shaw is your girl, and your station. Her song, “Warrior” by DJ Andy Caldwell, for instance, is one of the best songs I have ever heard. By creating this perfect cocktail station, you will hear husky, mostly female voices. You’ll hear songs you have never heard before but become instant favorites, and you’ll also here some familiar stuff by artists like Eryikah Badu and Sade. I love walking through an airport, with my earbuds firmly planted, listening to some cool, sexy, Lisa Shaw.
3. Bonnie Bailey. When you are ready to kick the party up a notch, but you still want to socialize as oppose to dance, the Bonnie Bailey station is perfect. I have found that it is also a great station to have in the background towards the end of the day at work, when you need a pick-me-up but still need to focus. I love this station for backyard BBQs or beach parties, and when getting ready for a night on the town, both home and abroad.
4. Kylie Minogue. No matter the platform, a Kylie Minogue station is going to give you fun, upbeat music that you can dance to, work out to, or energize you while you are doing your spring cleaning. What I especially love about this station are the positive lyrics and general happy beats and remixes.
One final tip. When creating these stations, be diligent about giving a thumbs up or a thumbs down to each song, and before long, you will have curated music that you absolutely love, for any occasion. Happy Listening!