Using the power of fragrance to connect emotionally

Jane Nicholson, founder of boutique consultancy service Lime in the Minibar, outlines the importance of olfactory branding.

Out of all our senses, smell is the most persuasive. It has the ability to generate emotions and memories, meaning fragrance can play a powerful role in creating positive first, and lasting, impressions on your guests.

I’ll never forget walking into the lobby of the Palazzo Versace Hotel on Queensland’s Gold Coast around 10 years ago and it was a total sensory experience – from the opulent design and fabrics to the brilliant staff and to its absolutely memorable smell. This was the first time I’d really noticed a signature scent in a hotel, which followed me from lobby to room and even home with a parting gift of a small bottle of its memorable perfume. It was powerful stuff, connecting with me in a truly memorable way. Of course, since then many hotels have recognised the power of fragrance to connect emotionally with their customers, developing their own signature scents to reflect their brand identify and values, amplifying the brand experience.

Branding expert Martin Lindstrom (author of Brand Sense) states that of all the senses, smell is the most persuasive. Our olfactory system is a collision of biology and psychology and we perceive scent through at least 1,000 receptors. In contrast, the eye only uses three receptors to distinguish colours. Scents have an immediate and compelling effect as they are directly linked to the brain’s limbic system which is the part of the brain responsible for our memories and emotions. 

In marketing and design the “sensory experience” trend means brand now recognise that, by engaging with customers through all the senses, it can heighten brand value, expand brand recognition and customer satisfaction, as well as increase sales. By using fragrance, we are able to connect with consumers on a deeper emotional level, resulting in a more memorable experience and establishing a long-lasting connection.

Leading olfactory branding business, Scent Company, has now created over 1000 bespoke fragrances made in Italy with clients including hotels, spas, retail stores, residential complexes, F&B outlets, events and interior designers. CEO Paolo Persico said: “In hospitality, it is all about the experience. Getting the atmosphere right is the first step in creating outstanding guest experiences that create enduring memories. No other sense has such a strong power of imagination and suggestion, and of calling up ancient memories with a wider and deeper emotional connection. We’ve worked with many hotels to develop their olfactory brand and the same perfume can be incorporated in a personalised scent collection including products like scented candles, reed diffusers and in-room guest amenities.”

Just as important is how to remove any unwanted bad smells such as from a hotel kitchen, humidity or an event space following a large gathering. Using a high-tech ozone system will remove the smell, clean the area and create a neutral base to layer the fragrance over. Using ozone is particularly topical in the current climate and it is recognised by the World Health Organisation as a powerful sanitising and disinfectant solution. These same ozone machines are now being used by hotels and retailers, often in combination with scenting solutions, as they allow to sanitise the ambiance during the night and scent the same space during the day.  

Whether you opt for an off-the-shelf fragrance or want to create your own signature scent, it is important to consult with an expert.  UK-based design and interior fragrance specialist, Dan Domeniconi from DOME design, explains: “Not only is it important to get the scent right, it is equally important to consider how and where it should be used in the hotel and how best to diffuse it. I work with interior designers, architects and hoteliers to develop a fragrance experience that truly reflects the brand, as well as recommend a mix of high-tech and decorative systems to diffuse the scent.”

Scent marketing is a powerful tool to help hoteliers increase guest satisfaction by creating a welcoming atmosphere. The first impression of your hotel needs to really wow your guests, so don’t underestimate the power of fragrance to help achieve this.

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