For guests to walk into a hotel’s front doors and feel comfortable, hotels need to create a feeling of familiarity. Designers achieve this through room design and colors, but scents play a role as well. More and more hotels are working with sensory teams to create fragrances that best match the hotel’s branding goals.
“It’s all about the brand,” said Sue Wieland, national sales & design consultant for designer Ambius. “Typically the brand will have a feel, look or style they have decided on as hallmarks they want to stick to, and then they develop their flavor from there.”
Finding the right scent means decoding your guest demographics. Whether your hotel targets primarily wellness-minded travelers, business-focused travelers or anything in between, scents can be blended to match the target and fit the location.
According to Spence Levy, president of scent experts Air Esscentials, the hotel industry was among the most receptive to the idea of scent branding when it started gaining popularity nearly a decade ago. “Hotels already understood the idea of the first impression,” Levy said. “At the time they weren’t focusing on branding a scent to an image. It was about having a clean atmosphere.”
But now, hotels are paying attention to the messages their scents send. Pete Koerner, SVP of guest experience for Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants, said that when Kimpton developed the company’s signature scent they were looking for a blend that would stand out. The Kimpton formula has notes of green tea, citrus, black pepper and cloves, and was designed to make guests want to come back, Koerner said.
“The scent we landed on ... is meant to bring about a sense of familiarity and comfort with one’s surroundings,” Koerner said. “It couldn’t be too masculine, overpowering or overly musky—it’s not intended to hit our guests like a one-two punch.”
Having a pleasant, familiar scent in your property can have positive benefits for employees as well. Levy said a supermarket in Trinidad recently began experimenting in scent branding and found it resulted in increased employee productivity.
“That wasn’t the official target, but that is something to be measured,” Levy said. “It was their goal to sell more produce, and they ended up with better employees.”