The one thing that has remained common over a period of time is that the perfect ambiance is defined by the scent that lingers in your mind as a memory each time you recall your visit. In this edition, Gulzaar Shah, Editor of the ParfumPlus magazine takes a look at one of the most loyal patrons of the fragrance industry-the hospitality sector…
While I have always experienced it, I was never really the one to acknowledge it, until my recent experience during one of my visits at the overcrowding spice souq in Deira. Amidst the pungent smell of the masses, I was suddenly transported to the serene tranquility of a relaxing spa, with a whiff of lemongrass coming from a nearby restaurant. The vivid memories of my last relaxing experience at the spa flashing through my mind, stopping me in my tracks. The temptation to just leave everything and rush to the spa, was oh-so-tempting!
And like a blitzkrieg, a thought struck me – the immense potential that a fragrance holds to influence your memory and the experience associated to the place. With an exclusive, custom signature scent, you can create the perfect ambience and create a powerful impression with guests.
Hospitality industry across the globe acknowledges the ability of a signature scent to leave a lasting impression on its guests. In fact, I can barely recall an experience when I have walked into a hotel and not have my senses blown away by a fragrance ( on some occasions in a bad way as well!)
Scent and the science
A well established research has established that people are able to recall associations to smell, in a better way even after a year, as compared to associations with visuals. After all, our sense of smell is closely linked to the part of the brain that controls our emotions and memories. Basically, the scent that you experience in a hotel, will play a very crucial role in defining your experience at the place and even your loyalty towards the brand as well as its services.
That day, at the souq which is a melting pot of spices, textiles and gold(!!!), I had quite a gala time, indulging in a lot of retail therapy. Be rest assured, I came back with many bags full but what continues to be my best experience at that place is the whiff of the lemongrass scent that transported my senses to a totally different environment in a jiffy!
For a lay person like me, the simple conclusion is that the nose could well be the fastest way to the heart! Clearly, the hospitality sector has known this secret for a long time. Way back in 2015, the hospitality sector was feeding an estimated USD 300 million scent-branding industry.
Your sense of smell is strong and yet extremely sensitive, at the same time. Just as a soothing whiff of lemongrass could be a major turn on, the stench of rotten tomatoes is likely to put you off. All this impact, without actually seeing or hearing the source of smell, do its job. Truly amazing, isn’t it? Well, the sense of the smell is like the superhero amidst all the other senses. Not many of us may know this fact, but the sense of smell is what most children use to define the world around them, until the age of 10. At this stage, the eyes or your sense of sight is more developed and therefore, takes over.
What brands invest in?
In my persistence to further understand how leading hospitality brands invest in that mesmerising signature scent for their properties, I decided to dig a little deeper. I must share, me and my team got our hands (and minds) on some really interesting information from our friends in the hospitality sector.
First of all and perhaps the most important focus for any hotelier is to invest in a signature scent. Since the sense of smell plays a more crucial role in formulating the memory or experience that guest associates with a visit to the hotel / resort / spa, any reputed hotelier will want to use a custom-made scent for the property.
After all, this fragrance is what will define the recall value associated to the hotel. Simply put, hoteliers go to great lengths to invest in the custom fragrance for their property. Another important factor that comes into play while investing in a fragrance is the experience hotelier would want to associate with the property. Basically, the fragrance that a customer visiting a pub will experience has to be very different from what he or she will experience while dining in the cafeteria. This is true even if both the establishments are part of the same property. Again this investment is also influenced by the geographical location of the property. So a Hyatt or a Marriott property in Dubai may smell very different from the ones in New York. After all, you have to pay heed to the local culture and preferences of the populace.
Having said all this, I can tell you that creating custom scents does come with a heavy price tag. The process involves bringing together a team of interior designers, marketing experts, psychologists, graphic designers and perfumers, to create the right scent. So kudos to all those in the hotel industry who take so much effort, to ensure that we go back with a mesmerising experience. The next time you visit a hotel, do not forget to pay attention to the indulgence of your sense of smell. Acknowledge the aromas and you would be surprised to experience the impact on your senses.
In the next part of this series, I will tell you more about the process of dispensing the scent and of course share some really interesting insights from our friends in the leading hotels of Dubai. Till then continue the scentful indulgence!