TAMPA, FL—You are on vacation and, after a long day on the town, you head to your room to get some sleep in order to be well-rested for the next day’s activities. You set the alarm for, say, 11:00 a.m. (who needs to get up early on vacation?), and your head hits the pillow. You are having the greatest dream ever and, out of nowhere, you are awakened by a group of revelers taking their party to their rooms; the wannabe jocks having a football game in the corridor at two in the morning; or the construction crew that’s up at the crack of dawn jackhammering away at the building next door.
One or more of those scenarios are played out at nearly every hotel in the world, and most guests have had a night’s sleep ruined by the noise outside of their room. In fact, a Hotels.com email survey conducted from March to April 2015 of more than 4,700 respondents across 28 countries found that noise from other guests is the top annoyance during hotel stays, with 21% of respondents listing that as their number-one complaint. In the U.S., that figure jumped to 65%.
But, what is a hotel to do? Soundproofing is not cheap, and a renovation to add double-paned windows or noise-cancelling insulation may not in the budget.
Residential Acoustics, based here, has come up with a solution that could be the cost-effective answer for hoteliers—the AcoustiTrac soundproofing curtain. According to the company, the curtain deflects sound waves using a dense, flexible, sound-blocking core, and can block most outside noise, averaging between 60% and 90%, based on wall thickness and the type of noise. And, as the name suggests, it is moved along a track installed above the window.
Walter Peek, cofounder and CEO, noted that AcoustiTrac’s soundproofing capability can help limit the number of guest complaints, while also providing savings in another, unrelated way.
“The most common complaint from a hotel guest is a noise complaint. That fact alone, paired with powerful online reviews and the ratings system which customers rely on, can create unwanted, negative attention [for a property]. Outside noise disturbances lead to a less-than-ideal guest experience,” he said. “Our AcoustiTrac product is an amenity which is attractive to travelers and brings value to hotels by keeping guests happy and limiting vacancies. It blocks up to 90% of noise depending on frequency, so locations in close proximity to street traffic, airports or railways are able to hear a significant reduction in the sound entering their rooms. They are also 100% blackout and have heat-transfer properties which add significant insulation,” which helps lower energy costs.
The company was formed in 2013 to create a sound-blocking solution when one of its team members moved near a high-speed freeway, and the original product was geared to, naturally, private residences. Besides AcoustiTrac, Residential Acoustics’ other offerings include AcoustiCurtain and AcoustiDoor, which are installed above windows and doors, respectively, and roll up to retract. While all three are available for residences, AcoustiTrac is the only product offered for commercial use.
“Initially, back in 2013, the primary demographic purchasing our products were apartment renters or home owners in urban cities, and those looking for a noise solution they could easily install; customize to their personal style; and take with them if they were to move,” said Peek. “Since we essentially created an entirely new product category, educating individual consumers became the natural first step. We developed our AcoustiTrac product specifically for larger windows and commercial use, and have added additional modifications and customizable options for the hospitality industry, which have really taken off.
“Nowadays, with the constant expectation of innovation, we’ve found that offering earplugs for noise relief just doesn’t cut it,” he continued. “Travelers and hotel guests are looking for a quality night’s sleep, and the institution and amenities which deliver the most positive impact and guest experience.”
Peek noted that AcoustiTrac’s design and customizability is what makes it attractive for hotels. “The AcoustiTrac contains the same sound-blocking properties as our AcousticCurtain, but effortlessly retracts by gliding along a wall or ceiling track, making it a perfect fit for the hospitality industry,” he said. “The AcoustiTrac is fully customizable in fabric and is designed to pair with a sheer or decorative front panel if used as the primary curtain, or it can be seamlessly added to existing drapery combinations. Each AcoustiTrac is sized to fit the specific window where it’s being used, and our project managers are able to guide clients through the process, sending samples to test and making sure all measurements are accurate.”
AcoustiTrac, at this moment, is the only product the company offers for commercial use, but Peek pointed out that the curtain can be used elsewhere besides on the inside of a guestroom or public space window.
“What’s great about this line is it can also be installed to protect exterior-facing doors just as easily as windows,” he said. “With sliding glass doors being a primary source of sound transmission due to their size, we’ve had hotels use our AcoustiTrac to create a noise barrier at that opening, which also helps with insulation and light control.”