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The Secret Scent Science Hotels Everywhere Are Tricking Guests With

Hotels use carefully selected scents in lobbies to entice guests to return for another stay.

Last year, anyone walking into the lobby of the Trump Toronto would have been greeted by the sweet smell of fresh cucumbers and citrus. Some may have attributed the scent to a guest’s perfume, but that aroma was no accident. The Trump was actually taking part in a subtle, yet quite common scheme: scent selection brand marketing.

Hotels like to use all five senses to entice guests to come back, and that includes smell. According to Heather Balsley, IHG’s senior vice president of America’s brand management, studies show that attention to sensory details really does improve business.

“Research showed that 35 percent of Fortune 500 brands had adopted some level of sensory branding philosophy,” Balsley told HotelChatter during a recent interview. “The research also showed that after sight — which naturally was a key part of the brands’ sensory experience already — smell was the most important of the five senses and responsible for a large part of a consumer’s emotional response to a brand.”

The science behind it shows that specific scents hit the brain’s limbic system, which controls memory and emotion. Hotels are attempting to use scent to bring back happy memories, thereby link their property with a positive emotional response. Luckily for guests who don’t want to leave the enticing scent behind, many hotels now sell aroma diffusers in their gift shops.

Scents can range the gamut from pine and tobacco, to grapefruit and figs. Some of the more common ones are tea, citrus and vanilla.

[Photo: iStock]

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