Effect of Acoustic Treatment and Table Dividers on Diners’ Experience in a Montréal Restaurant
AbstractThis study investigates the effect of acoustic treatment in an upscale restaurant in Montreal (at Institut du Tourisme et Hôtellerie du Québec). A questionnaire was administered to a total of 225 diners before (N = 140) and after (N = 85) the installation of acoustic panels on the ceiling of the dining room. Participants were asked to rate their overall experience, the soundscape of the restaurant, as well as their vocal and listening effort. Additionally, as this work was conducted during the COVID-19 pandemic, we explored the influence of transparent acrylic dividers between tables. Two-way MANOVAs were conducted to investigate the effect of acoustic treatment (before/after) and dividers (with/without). We observed significant effects of both interventions on vocal and listening effort, as well as a significant effect of acoustic treatment on satisfaction and soundscape judgments. Specifically, the presence of acoustic treatment improved overall satisfaction and soundscape judgments (rated as more pleasant and calmer) while reducing perceived vocal and listening effort, but without affecting the visual experience. On the other hand, the presence of table dividers resulted in worse soundscape judgments and increased vocal and listening effort. On theoretical grounds, the results highlight the potential of acoustic treatment to enhance diners’ experience as well as the detrimental effect of table dividers on acoustic comfort. On methodological grounds, the proposed questionnaire could be used to assess acoustic interventions from the user perspective in a wide range of settings.
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