Noises off, maybe

What with me going on about lost customers and noisy restaurants, I was thinking of another angle on this. I should have done an interview with an author last week. (The fact that it had to be cancelled due to my inconvenient illness, is beside the point here.)

The author and I spent some time deciding where to meet. She, who was in Manchester only briefly, suggested a couple of chain bars/restaurants, just because she knew they existed. I said I’d prefer somewhere quiet enough, so that when I sat down to type out the recording, I’d actually be able to hear what we’d been saying. I’ve done countless interviews in noisy bars, where the listening afterwards was a real pain, bordering on me making stuff up, because I couldn’t hear properly.

Background music can be very nice, and sometimes useful. At quiet times it’s good with something preventing an embarrassing total silence. But no need for disco volume while eating. And once customer numbers are up, there is very little need for WWIII levels of entertainment in the background.

OK, maybe a little, just in case we all stop talking at the very same second. Although, how likely is that?

In the end, we settled on someone’s house for the interview. That’s what’s best. No muzak, and no infuriating coffee-making monstrosities. No irritating laughing woman at the next table.

As a family, we used to go out for an Italian meal on Christmas Eve at one of those lovely Scottish-Italian restaurants. But we gave up on that too in the end, as we all got older and some felt they could no longer take part in the conversation because of the music and other noise.

What strikes me is that – yet again – businesses are losing custom this way. If you’re not clubbing, you are unlikely to say ‘Let’s go to XYZ to eat/drink coffee! I love the way you can never hear what people are saying in there.’

It’d be useful to have a ‘noise card’ to hand over to anywhere you can’t make yourself heard in. A bit like those red and yellow cards in football.


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