Experimental Airport Acoustics Make Travelers Want to Shop More

Illustration for article titled Experimental Airport Acoustics Make Travelers Want to Shop More

In an interesting but somewhat obviously biased New Statesman article, the marketing team at audio-engineering firm Biamp have collected a few interesting examples of how architectural acoustics and urban-scale soundscape design affect mood. They mention, for example, the stressful effects of sustained noise on blood pressure, as well as a reported 15% drop in the crime rate in Lancaster, California, following the installation of a birdsong-based soundscape in the downtown area.


There's even a way you can try this yourself: if your Monday morning is proving particularly challenging (aren't they all?), give this soothing soundtrack a try. It's an experimental soundscape composed for the Glasgow Airport, apparently meant to reduce stress, but with the unexpected side-effect of putting travelers in the mood to shop:

What you're listening to now is a generative sound installation that Glasgow Airport trialled in its departures terminal–the scheme was put in place to try to sooth passengers in a potentially stressful environment. In this case researchers found that travelers admitted to feeling more relaxed, even in cases where they hadn't realized the soundscape was playing. And perhaps more surprisingly, retailers noticed an uplift in sales during the trial, with some periods seeing an increase of nearly 10 per cent in passenger spending.


Just don't blame us if you fall asleep at your desk, after an epic Amazon binge.

[@LondonSounds via Studio-X NYC; image courtesy of Getty]

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It sounds like the inside of the Earth Store and all of the copycat versions of it that were in almost every mall in the late 90's. It seemed to work for them, since it convinced people to buy $90 wind chimes and $300 indoor fountains. I suspect the effect wears off over time, since most of those places are long gone now.