At some point in everyone’s life, the desire to travel has probably surpassed every other. Whereas a holiday is usually required to recharge the batteries, travel is more often about taking yourself away from what you know and the surroundings you feel safe and comfortable in.
We travel for many reasons, but mainly to find adventure, culture or – according to a recent survey by Lonely Planet – an opportunity for positive change. And while some of us may be predisposed to one particular kind of journey, many of us will be seeking one or all three of the above when we travel. Regardless of the reason for getting away, we’re all becoming ever more fickle and disloyal. With competition from Airbnb, the rise of serviced apartments, and instant access to digital review platforms such as TripAdvisor and Trustpilot, not to mention the make-or-break channels on social media, hotels have never found it more difficult to stand out from the crowd.
By combining the power of brand scenting with other multi-sensory cues, such as design, music and lighting, scent can convey an experience that does precisely that and keep customers coming back for more.
Do you know your travel personas?
It’s now widely understood that our beliefs and values influence how we travel. Last year’s report What’s Changing the Way You Travel Today (CMO Council, 2018) argued that personalised engagement was key and it discussed the need to target travel personas, such as the “smart, well-informed planner”, the “relaxed nomad” and the “deal seeker on a budget”.
Each persona has its own wants and needs – and each will be put off by similar things. Some will prefer to travel in a group, some to beach destinations, others to city breaks and cultural trips, some to adrenaline activities and others to spas and wellness resorts. However, all will require a meaningful emotional connection if you’re to benefit from brand affiliation.
Today’s travellers are better informed
The swift rise of social media means that hotels are faced with having to defend their reputations in a cut-throat marketplace. Instagram, which boasts extraordinary super-powers that can turn any drab location into a dreamy, romance-filled utopia, has helped to create a new kind of traveller. They’re better informed, know what they want, and they’re not afraid to voice their opinions (usually online) if things aren’t what they expected.
Reviews can make or break a reputation, so hotels now have to think about the different kinds of traveller they want to attract – and why those travellers might be attracted to them.
The role of scent in travel
The science of attraction thrives when all of our senses are used in sync. Studies prove that the sense of smell is one of the key aspects in forming strong memories. So much so, it is one of the most influential senses in travel. With hotels under pressure to differentiate, scent can create a vital and obvious connection with guests. It can help to link a place with positive memories and emotions and offer hotels a way to establish a personal, human-centred relationship. Influential in the creation of comfort, scent can also help with establishing a mood that is consistent with the experience and environment.
From the moment guests check in to the moment they leave, a hotel should be considering suitable scents to both serve a purpose and to gently cultivate an emotional connection to its brand. Harmonisation is paramount here. If your hotel is all about relaxation, choose calming scents. If it’s about luxury, why not go hell for leather, literally, because 30% of respondents to Premium Scenting’s global study answered leather when asked what they thought luxury smelt like? If your hotel wants to convey a sense of fun, plump for a brighter, cheerful fragrance like fresh apple and bergamot.
Scent can truly enhance travel experiences. In a study conducted by Premium Scenting and Walnut Unlimited, we established seven travel personas with which to conduct an experiment, including Adventurous Travellers, Cultural Travellers, Planning Travellers and Luxury and Traditional Travellers. A sample of 50 candidates then undertook a virtual-reality scenario using a mix of audio and scent, with their arousal or interest measured by a Galvanic Skin Response device.
As a control, half of the candidates took experiences matched with a scent and the other half had unscented experiences. The key findings from the experiment were as follows:
- 38% increase in consumer involvement by influencing the sense of smell
- First impressions count, with an initial impact of scent in the first five seconds across all experiences
- The effect of scent on involvement deepens as dwell time continues
- Each travel persona had clear preferences for particular experiences
The ultimate hotel experience
“At The Hotel, we treat each individual traveller as a personality. Everybody is looking for a unique experience when they’re travelling. With Premium Scenting, we were able to create a fragrance that’s completely unique. We get very positive reviews about the fragrance on TripAdvisor and Hotel.com, with people referring to the beautiful smell.”
Janjoris Kriele, General Manager, The Hotel, Brussels
Our research shows that where all the senses work holistically to deliver a guest experience like no other – and an authentic way to experience a destination – a sensorial, immersive hotel will stand out from the crowd.
As the fastest-acting of the five senses, scent is a powerful way to give guests an olfactive indication that they’ve arrived at a high-value location. It can instantly connect the hotel with its locality, giving guests a real flavour of their destination, and create a desirable experience guests will want to share.
Hotels are starting to understand the different kinds of experiential traveller styles and their expectations. Clearly, information about travel personas is highly useful to hotel and destination marketing. By linking your “sensory story” to each persona – via an understanding of your customers and what people expect from the brand – your use of scenting will really evoke the personality and attributes of your product.
If you’re looking to deliver immersive customer experiences with scent marketing, learn more from the global leader in full-service scent solutions.