One of the biggest buzzwords in hospitality is ‘wellness’. So it makes sense that mediscent – the use of fragrance to promote wellbeing and good health – was recently reported as a trend in hotels for 2019: and that the art of fragrance is taking its rightful place as a key factor in the new hotel experience.
The power of scent
It’s another part of the way that the power of scent is being harnessed in hotels. From zoning particular areas in hotels to giving repeat guests a sense of familiarity, fragrance is increasingly used as a way of achieving a new multi-sensory relationship with guests.
Our recent study into the impact that scent marketing has in enhancing brand recognition and repeat custom found that:
- 91% of hotel guests said a pleasant smell had a positive impact
- 67% of hotel guests say a pleasant smell in a hotel would make them feel more patient and relaxed
- 69% of hotel guests say that a pleasant smell in a hotel lobby would improve their perception of the brand
In our Ultimate Hotel Experience report research, we ran a fully immersive experiment with six experiences using virtual reality (VR), audio and scent. A Galvanic Skin Response (GSR) device was used on over 100 candidates to measure small changes in skin conductance across the experiences, allowing a direct glimpse into the human unconscious.
Our study showed several findings of interest to the hospitality industry:
- Scent impacts a 38% difference in emotional involvement between scented and unscented experiences – scented spaces are more immersive.
- As an experiential trigger scent is unparalleled, and is particularly powerful in balance and congruous with the other senses.
- First impressions count. Scent is the first sense to act, and kicks in with a five second advantage over the other senses. In a scented hotel, smell provides guests with a sense of orientation before the visual role is fully established. Often this is referred to as the ‘warm welcome’ effect.
Engaging all senses in balance
Our study found that when it is working in congruence with other sensory inputs, scent can amplify the guest experience, creating the comfort and familiarity that hotels want to engender.
Scenting has three key purposes in hotel design: delivering ambience for a more immersive guest experience; as a branding device, like an olfactory logo, delivered through signature scents; and
as an olfactory signal of a particular space or event such as a spa or seasonal display.
“The senses work together, not in isolation. Engaging all the senses in balance creates stronger message structures from the brain, creating differentiation and stronger memories of the brand experience.”
Dr Andy Myers, Walnut Unlimited, 2018
Scent can be an effective tool in communicating the brand or location story, adding a sense of excitement, comfort through familiarity, or a sense of luxury or wellbeing. Scent can also tie in the traveller to the sensory nature of the hotel’s location, with a scent that evokes the locality.
Hotel brands can utilise scent as a highly effective way of establishing a hotel brand, delivering more immersive and unique guest experiences. It can be rolled out internationally, evoking a particular hotel’s scent wherever one may be and also be localised to suit the surrounding environment.
A positive connection
In this exciting and growing area of multi-sensory marketing in hotels, scent can create a vital and obvious connection with guests. It can help to link a place with positive memories and emotions; it offers hotels a way to establish a personal, human-centred relationship, and it helps with the creation of comfortable and enhanced environments. Frequent travellers often cite the smell of a hotel as being associated akin to coming home: the immediate impact of a familiar brand scent being a trigger for comforting emotions.
As our pioneering Premium Scenting study shows, using scent as part of a multisensory, deeply immersive hotel experience can deliver real benefits. That’s why hotels everywhere are seeking scents to enhance and brand their guest experience.
As mediscent and the neuroscience of fragrance evolves, expect to experience the use of fragrances more and more in the hospitality environment.