Smells of success: Considering scent in hospitality

June 27, 2014

Smells of success: Considering scent in hospitality

Ever walk by a fast food place and get a sudden craving for a burger, even though you aren’t hungry? Consider the scent. How about your home goods store? Is it really that homey, or is it that familiar, comforting scent that warms you up?

Some of your favorite stores and even theme parks and sports arenas are using our olfactory system to sway brand image. It’s called scent marketing, and the hospitality industry is diving into the water headfirst. If you’re new to the term, this spicy Q and A will help you follow your nose.

What is scent marketing exactly?

Marketers have begun to think of scent marketing as the final frontier, in a sense. They’ve already mastered visual and auditory marketing, so scent is the next logical step. By combining science with business knowledge, companies can tailor a unique scent or series of scents designed to evoke a particular feeling that reinforces a positive brand image.

Why does it work?

It’s all very scientific. Our sense of smell is derived from our olfactory system. And the olfactory nerve lies very close to both the amygdala, the area of the brain which controls emotions and emotional memories, and the hippocampus, which is associated with memory. It all breaks down to this: a distinct scent makes for a stronger memory of the place where you smelled it.

How do hotels use scent marketing?

The amazing thing about scent marketing is its ability to create a lasting impression on a guest. Many hotels are crafting their own signature scent to use throughout their property – from candles in the lobby to room spray and toiletries to purchasable items available online or in a gift shop. The idea is that guests will associate their stay with that particular scent. Every time they smell it, they’ll think of that hotel fondly. To be clear, when it comes to scent marketing in the hospitality industry, the goal is not to make guests want to buy something that smells nice, but to form an emotional connection between scent and the memory of their visit.

How do you choose the right scent?

The key is putting serious thought into your particular brand. Where is your property located? What sort of vibe does it give off? Who is your primary audience? Do you want to promote a particular feeling? Determining what sets your venue apart and what your unique goals are will be the defining factor in choosing the “right” scents.

Who is using it?

This is a marketing tactic that isn’t limited to size or luxe level. Boutiques, major luxury lines, and teensy bed and breakfasts alike have all hopped on the wagon. These days, great smelling hotels are everywhere, so why shouldn’t yours be one of them?

Will you consider using scent marketing in your hotel? Tell us your thoughts on the tactic in the comments below!

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