There’s a growing trend in hotel marketing and its name is scentscaping: hotels use fragrance to boost the holiday mood and to give lasting impressions to their guests. Whether you call this movement scentscaping or scent marketing, you should already employ it in your hotel marketing strategy. According to Jennifer Dublino, VP-Development at ScentWorld, “the scent marketing industry is growing at an [estimated] annual rate of 15%, with revenue of about $300 million worldwide.”
According to Air Scent, in 20I6, “the fragrance and perfume industry was valued at more than 40 billion, and according to Global Industry Analysts, the global scent marketing industry is expected to net a whopping $45.6 billion by 2018.”
And there’s science behind the trend.
What studies say about fragrance
According to a variety of studies, scent impacts people in different, strong ways. Here are some facts revealed by the Sense of Smell Institute in collaboration with Cintas Corporation (NASDAQ: CTAS) a few years ago on April 27, the National Sense of Smell Day.
- People can remember smells with 65% accuracy after a year, while visual recall is about 50% after three months.
- Smell has a very powerful link to memory and links to the emotional regions of the brain more directly than other senses.
- The human brain can process roughly 10,000 different smells in an area the size of a postage stamp.
- A person’s sense of smell is weakest in the morning and the ability to perceive odor increases throughout the day.
- Scent works in the opposite direction of other senses. With sight, sound and taste, we identify the information first and then react emotionally. With scents, we have an emotional reaction first and then identify the scent shortly thereafter.
MGallery by Sofitel conducted a survey of 3,000 guests over the summer and found 78% of women and 74% of men generally like scented spaces, an article by ScentAir informs.
With such compelling facts, there’s no wonder that hotels include fragrances to influence the stay experience in their guests. What was once the enchanted territory of spas, has the potential of becoming a common-day practice in hotels and hospitality spaces all around the world.
Hotel scent marketing is a real thing
Hotel scent marketing is a real strategy and is no longer the exclusive playground of luxury hotels and resorts. W Hotels smell like Italian figs entwined with signature notes of jasmine and sensual sandalwood; Hôtel Costes blends lily, ginger, and white cedar; Ritz Carlton has a wide choice of fragrances some even available to perfume your home; Jumeirah Port Soller Hotel & Spa developed a signature scent to evoke the groves of Soller Valley with lemon oils, jasmine, and rose, with apple and peach tones; The Tillary Hotel in Brooklyn, N.Y. has a “white suede” signature fragrance; and the list goes on.
Today, even budget chains and boutique hotels can afford this PR tactic with a little help from companies like ScentAir who are experts in creating branded hotel scents that create positive and lasting guest experiences and foster brand loyalty.
And they are not the only ones. Nose Knows Design is another company specializing in enhancing the brand experience through scent. They offer their services to hospitality businesses and interior designers. Some hotels using their custom fragrances include The Intercontinental Barclay and The Trump International Hotel and Tower Toronto.
Then, there’s Air Scent, famous for their air freshener dispensers. But they also specialize in scent marketing, and they have serious numbers to justify their business. They serve the hospitality industry, but also retail environments, financial institutions, offices, fitness and health care centers, auto showrooms, and more. Their research reveals plainly that:
Scent marketing has proven to attract new customers, increase the time customers linger in environments, create a branded, heightened value perception, encourage repeat visits, increase sales, and inspire loyalty.
Essence de Sofitel
Essence de Sofitel is a line of interior fragrance and scented candles created by French perfumer Lucien Ferrero for Sofitel Hotels & Resorts. From now on, every time you visit a Sofitel hotel, you will be enveloped in delicate aromas of white rose, jasmine of Grasse, patchouli, vanilla, lemon leaves, bergamot, and lily of the valley, and Lentisque, with white sandalwood as a dominating note. Besides enhancing interiors in Sofitel hotels around the world, Essence de Sofitel is also available for purchase to be easier accessible to the general public.
The Sofitel signature scent is a sophisticated fragrance and a brand-wide scent strategy to stimulate the guests upon arrival, but also to make a lasting impression from the first moment of the stay until checkout.
Holiday Inn Express signature scent
Sofitel is not the only chain using fragrance to make a lasting impression. Holiday Inn has its own signature scent too.
The clean, simple, organic signature scent developed for the Holiday Inn Express brand connects with guests on an emotional level furthering guests’ bond with the brand.
The scent is placed near the main entrance of the hotel and is delivered through SceneWave or WhisperScent machines, which are operational between 11:00 am and 11:00 pm. The fragrance of Holiday Inn Express signature scent is a blend of green tea, sweet grass, and citrus, with a hint of green herbs:
Crisp lemon top notes accent a heart of watery green florals, sweet grass, a dash of exotic herbs, spicy perilla and a base of sheer woods and musk.
The more general Holiday Inn branded scent is a room freshener blending citrus and white tea with subtle undercurrents of herbs, perilla leaf, woods, and sensual musk.
Hotel Indigo® by IHG
Hotel Indigo® by IHG updates its scents every quarter. They rotate their signature fragrances to inspire guests every season. In the past, they welcomed travelers with Cranberry Apple Marmalade, a warming scent of tart cranberries and spiced apples, while this season, the signature perfume is still Noel, a blend of balsam fir mixed with warm spices, with citrus top notes. And these are not the only fragrances they rotate in the hotels. Depending on when you visit the hotel, you can also experience Lavender de Provence, a blend of lavender and sandalwood; or Sugar Cookie, an air freshener that smells like freshly baked sugar cookies.
Westin Hotels white tea and vanilla
The signature scent of Westin Hotels is a bold blend of white tea and vanilla with cedar notes. The fragrance is so popular that Westin even designed white tea body lotions, shampoo, and body wash, as well as scented candles and oil diffusers, which are available for purchase on the official web-store of the chain.
Westin was among the pioneers in hospitality to use scentscaping in hotel lobbies. They began testing their White Tea signature scent as early as 2005. Following their success, the industry grew exponentially, and today is a playground for all kinds of high-end brands employing famous fragrance designers to develop signature branded blends.
Scent marketing creates powerful memories
To make a case for scent marketing, one can easily refer to this quote from Vladimir Nabokov’s Mary (original title Mashen’ka):
“Memory can restore to life everything except smells, although nothing revives the past so completely as a smell that was once associated with it.”
Smells can evoke strong emotional reactions and, according to The Smell Report (*.pdf document) by the Social Issues Research Centre, “the perception of smell consists not only of the sensation of the odours themselves but of the experiences and emotions associated with these sensations.”
A scent marketing strategy will help your hotel linger in the memory of your guests a longer time, as people can remember smells with 65% accuracy after a year. Since so many high-end hotels and resorts employ this strategy successfully, it is a good idea for you to consider it too, especially because it is not as costly as you might think. You can always partner with a local fragrance designer to create a custom scent for your brand, a move that is often more affordable than hiring companies that specialize in scent marketing for hotels. According to Bloomberg, developing custom fragrances for hotels could cost between $5,000 and $30,000 per formula, but it’s worth it considering that the human brain remembers smells easier than visuals. Bloomberg cites Caroline Fabrigas, CEO of Scent Marketing, to support why investing in custom scents is a good marketing strategy:
Custom scents are expensive but if you think about the amount of money a brand will use to create a logo, this is just another form of it—and it’s one of the most powerful.
And the move will pay off: besides generating brand loyalty, you can also use scent marketing to sell branded merchandise that reminds guests of their experience in your hotel: candles, air fresheners, body care products, scent diffusers, and many other interesting and innovative scent branded products.