Best Practices and up to the minute news on Customer Experience Management and Service Excellence

Using Scent as Part of Your Brand Experience

How hotels can leverage the sense of smell to create connections and encourage repeat stays.

The sense of smell is powerful: think about how the scent of freshly cut grass, a whiff of a certain perfume or the aroma of baking cookies can take you back to a moment in time and unleash a cascade of memories.

That’s why this often-overlooked sense can be a powerful force in business—especially in hospitality. Leveraging scent can help you create a special guest experience, foster connection and inspire guests to return again and again.

“If you’re running a hotel, you have a huge opportunity to stand out using scent,” consultant Laura Fredericks states in an article on hotel scents for hospitality management technology company Cvent. That’s because only three percent of Fortune 1000 companies use scent in their branding. “By moving beyond the visual experience that you’re offering, you create deeper and more lasting connections with your guests.”

Here are 5 ideas for using scent at your hotel to create those deeper connections and a better guest experience:

  1. Start with a fresh base scent. Before you start to incorporate scent into your branding, it’s important to make sure you’re starting fresh. Guests with sensitive noses won’t want to feel that scent is being used to mask undesirable or stale odors. You can keep the underlying smell fresh and clean by paying special attention to ventilation, opening windows when possible and making sure your carpet and upholstery get professionally steam cleaned regularly.
  1. Create a signature scent. One way to get a lot of bang for your sensory buck: create a signature scent for your brand. Guests who walk into your property for the first time will pick up on the scent and associate it with their experience at your hotel. Over time, repeat guests will begin to recognize it and form sensory memories. PremiumScenting refers to this as an “olfactory logo.” An example of a signature scent: Westin Hotels & Resorts’ iconic cedar and white tea scent.
  2. Use scent for a wellness boost. You can strategically use certain scents to create a sense of wellbeing, foster relaxation or lift mood in the spa, fitness center and guest rooms. As an example, Soho House uses “scent zones” with the smell of bergamot offering a mood boost in the spa. And Bulgari Hotels & Resorts uses a green tea scent to promote relaxation, according to PremiumScenting, which helps brands create scent experiences.
  3. Keep the scent light and natural. One important factor to keep in mind when employing scent at your hotel: fragrance sensitivity. As many as one in three people may have sensitivity to smells in products and environments. These sensitivities can trigger coughing, headaches, shortness of breath and skin issues. Be mindful by opting for lighter, more natural scents over chemicals and strong perfumes.
  4. Offer personalized scents. One standout way to offer personalized service is through scent. Allowing guests to choose scents and control their sensory environment is a way to acknowledge that everyone is different and may wish for different scents at different times. One guest may love light, citrusy scents while another gravitates to florals and still another loves coconut and other “food” scents. One example: in London, the Montcalm Hotel’s “scent menu” lets guests choose scents for their rooms, according to PremiumScenting.

Now that you know more about the whys and hows of using scent, consider becoming one of the handful of hotels that uses scent experiences to stand out from the competition and form better bonds with guests—by letting their noses lead the way.