We prize silence, or do we? Don't we really prize the sounds that give us pleasure?
When bread is scarce, a protruding belly counts as beauty; when garbage dumpsters stink with wasted food, slenderness is prized. Small wonder that in our noisy civilization we often speak so longingly of silence.
But most of us, most of the time, do not really desire silence. Something in us recoils from an utter absence of sound. The composer John Cage famously spent some time in a sensory deprivation chamber; he did not enjoy himself. Silence and noise have both been used as interrogation techniques. Both can amount to torture.
This is not to suggest that silence and noise are equivalent. Silence doesn't elevate blood pressure or stimulate stress hormones or retard children's learning the way that noise does. In terms of acoustical impact, noise will always hold the whip hand. Your noise can destroy my silence, but my silence is powerless against your noise.
The composer R. Murray Schafer, who gave us the word "soundscape," referred to the dominance of noise as "sound imperialism." Though noise may wrap itself in the mantle of diversity — if you don't like vuvuzelas, you must not be multicultural — diversity is always the first casualty of noise.
Still, silence is hardly the answer to noise, and rarely its most attractive alternative. People who complain about noise are likely to be heard as silencers — and perhaps just as likely to fancy themselves as lovers of silence and therefore, in the minds of their antagonists, as haters of music, joyousness, the human race itself. An unfortunate mistake all around. The acoustic zone most of us wish to inhabit is not silence but quietness (a few sounds) or conviviality (an ecology of many sounds).
Picture a small lake in summertime, then close your mind's eye and listen to the sounds belonging to your picture: children laughing in the shallow water, mothers calling "That's far enough," laughter at the ice cream stand, ducks quacking in the reeds beside the beach, oars dipping into the water, a dog barking after a Frisbee, a radio playing softly next to two lovers cuddling in the sand, the aha of an old man who's just caught a fish, the soft psst of an unscrewed bottle cap — all the diverse sounds of a diverse company of human beings enjoying their leisure.
Implicit in this soundscape are some choices. Set your blanket near the water if you like your soundscape spicy; walk a ways beyond the beach if you prefer it plain, understated, still.
Excerpted from an article in the LA Times by Garret Keizer
The following are just a few real life complaints about noise, filed by hotel guests from around the world:
Party All Night
"Four couples staying here partied until all hours of the night out on the patio and were loud and obnoxious. The management leaves the premises at 8:00 and was unresponsive to our complaint about the noise. With such a beautiful property, it seemed out of sorts to allow this level of noise. We have never witnessed such a group of rabble rousers left unchecked. It might as well have been a bunch of teenage hockey players." -Ann (California)
Garbage Truck Wake-Up Call
"What the pictures of the hotel do not show, is that the rear of the hotel is meters away from the delivery bay of a supermarket. If like us, you are unfortunate enough to be allocated a room at the back of the hotel there is no need to request a wake up call as you will be awoken at 5 a.m. when the unloading starts. Unless you can incorporate the sounds of diesel engines, tail lifts, fork lift trucks and pallets being dragged around into your dreams, I would only recommend this hotel if you can guarantee getting a front facing room." -Nigel (France)
"Our room was next to vending. Apparently the walls were made of paper mache, so we got to hear ice being made throughout the night. The air conditioner was three feet above our heads -- too bad it didn't fall out of the wall and put us out of our misery!" -Brad (Michigan)
"We were assured that the 'cosmetic' work being done on the hotel at the time of the wedding would be unnoticeable. Sandblasting the building as you walk in is not unnoticeable! Nor was it unnoticeable to have to cross picket lines because they were using non-union workers." -Tennis (Rochester, New York)
"What a dump! This place claimed to be a 'hotel' but when we got there, it turned out to be a hobo depot! There's a railroad station right behind it, so we had a very 'My Cousin Vinny' experience with the trains departing at 3 am." -Cayce (Ohio)
Two A.M. Teens
"A group of teenagers staying there kept us awake half the night. Kids in the (very small) pool at 2 am, running up and down the halls, it was difficult to sleep. The [staff] the next day seemed aloof when I complained and acted like I should have done something about it. I told them that the staff that night knew about the teenagers and did nothing." -Stephie (Florida.)
Excerpted from "Guests Complain About Noisy Hotels" by By Charlyn Keating Chisholm, About.com Guide
J.D. Power and Associates recently released its 2010 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study that is based on more than 53,000 guests who stayed in a hotel between May 2009 and June 2010. This article focuses on guest problems, naming noise as the number one complaint among hotel guests.
J.D. Power and Associates continues to observe that high levels of customer satisfaction are dependent on problem prevention, rather than problem resolution. That is not to say that service recovery is not required when a guest experiences a significant problem; however, it is more difficult to achieve the satisfaction level of those guests who don’t experience a problem in the first place, than for guests who experience problems that are eventually resolved.
The chart below illustrates the differences in satisfaction between guests who did and did not experience a significant problem during their stay. The scores are based on a 1,000-point scale and reflect the industry average across hotel segments based on the J.D. Power and Associates 2010 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Index Study.
Across the industry, overall satisfaction is 144 points higher when guests did not experience a significant problem (781), compared with when they did (637). While there is a significant gap in satisfaction among the guests for whom the problem was resolved (705), compared with those for whom the problem remained unresolved (582), satisfaction still falls significantly below that of guests who did not experience a problem in the first place.
While it is possible to so impress and exceed a guest’s expectations during recovery that they are more satisfied after recovery than if they never had a problem, these are rare occurrences. We certainly would not advocate creating false problems in order to heroically swoop in and solve the problems for guests as a business model, but it does reinforce the important opportunity recovery represents. It makes a statement to guests about your brand and how you value their business.
You might wonder, what are the most frequently occurring problems that guests cite?
Across the industry, the top three problems guests cited are:
- Hotel/room maintenance
- Heating ventilation and AC problems
The chart below summarizes the top three by segment. The top three problems cited in the economy/budget segment, for example, are: room cleanliness (28%), room smell (28%), and hotel/room maintenance (27%).
As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!
Stuart Greif is VP and general manager of the global travel and hospitality practice for J.D. Power and Associates.
Window coverings offer privacy, block the harsh rays of the sun and sometimes even provide a layer of insulation during the winter months, when cold air can easily leak into the home through the windows. There is a seemingly endless variety of window covering options to suit almost every taste and purpose, but not all of them provide a sound barrier to keep out the ambient noise from traffic, construction and numerous other sources. soundproofing
There are sound barrier window treatments available, but you need to do your homework in order to track down the one that works best for your home and the level of noise deadening you are looking to achieve. Many products claim to block noise, but few actually deliver high caliber sound abatement over windows, which are perhaps the most difficult areas to block sound.
Sound abatement curtains come with sound dampening materials imbedded into the fabric, and have varying levels of effectiveness. In addition to curtains, there are other decorative options for silencing the noise that leaks in through windows and glass doors. Consumers report mixed results with these fixes, which lose their effectiveness in proportion to the level of noise they are trying to block.Soundproof
A company called Acousticalshutters.com produces beautiful custom noise reducing shutters for residential and business applications that block up to 10-times more outside noise than traditional shutters or curtains.
Called Shut-Eye™ acoustical shutters, they come in a variety of sizes and styles to fit virtually any window or sliding glass door. Comparing Shut-Eye acoustical shutters to other products shows that Shut-Eye brand provide 25-50 decibels noise reduction, where as other window noise reduction treatments only provide 5-25 decibel reduction.
Standard windows, sliding glass doors, French doors, arches, transoms, and other windows can be covered with the Shut-Eye Acoustical Shutters to block out nearly all exterior noises. They are ideal for reducing all invasive outdoor noise from traffic, aircrafts, and nearby construction. They are well suited for hotels, condominiums, private homes, apartments, military bases, and office buildings.
The Shut-Eye Acoustical Shutters were invented by an experienced acoustical consulting firm that focused its research on the acoustical weak link in most buildings. The aim was to create a cost-effective and aesthetically pleasing noise control solution for any window, anywhere.
One of the best features of the Shut-Eye shutters is that they don’t interfere with the functionality of your windows. You can still open and close them, and clean them whenever needed.
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