• Thu. Sep 22nd, 2022

The Travel Industry Uses Scents to Enhance Your Vacation and Entice You

ByStephanie M. Akbar

Jun 19, 2022

Freshly baked bread. Freshly cut grass. A salty sea breeze. Most people have a favorite smell that evokes fond memories or a feeling of comfort.

This sensory appeal has long been exploited by companies to sell scented candles, expensive perfumes and even the houses. Today, it is increasingly used in the travel industry, where airlines, hotels and entertainment venues deliberately incorporate fragrances into the “tourist experience”.

These companies seek to benefit from consumer research who established that there is much more to pleasant perfumes than smelling good. Smells have a special ability to act as a source of information. Because they are intangible – we can’t see or touch them – our brain automatically associates them with experiences.

The travel industry is all about experiences. One of the main reasons people are willing to spend large sums of money to visit new places is to stimulate their senses with new sights, sounds, tastes and smells, such as fragrant lavender from the south of France. or the eucalyptus on the Amalfi Coast in Italy.

A simple way to monetize this is for a hotel to sell its own shower gels or soaps so guests can take a small piece of their vacation home with them. Ideally, when used in your own bathroom, they will remind you of a happy and relaxed stay, which you might consider repeating with another booking.

My research suggests that major tourism operators are becoming more ambitious about using different scents in the services they provide. Specialist manufacturers now offer thousands of familiar scents for commercial use on an industrial scale.

A popular area of ​​“sensory marketing” is where ambient scents are strategically emitted into the built environment to make it more appealing. Travel agencies are already using this tool in everything from airplanes (rose, lavender and citrus on Singapore Airlines, for example) to airport lounges (orange peel and figs on United Airlines) and even in customs areas and car parks.

Bathrooms and entryways are often designed to smell like lemon (or citrus fruit in general), which, thanks to its widespread use in cleaning products, has come to be associated with cleanliness.

There are also so-called “warm” (cinnamon and vanilla, for example) or “fresh” (peppermint and eucalyptus) flavors. My Previous search have shown that these scents can have surprising effects on people’s perception of space.

Warm scents create a feeling of physical closeness, making spaces feel busier or more cluttered. In the world of travel, these wouldn’t be put to good use in elevators or security lines at airports. Instead, a fresh scent in these areas will make travelers feel less confined.

Scents and Sensitivity

Smell can also be used to influence customer behavior. For example, there is studies which show that these same warm scents can reduce people’s calorie consumption. Perhaps surprisingly, it seems that the more we are exposed to the aromas of sweet treats like chocolate cookies, the less likely we are to want to eat them. In a hotel or spa, this could potentially be used to encourage tourists to choose healthier foods.

Studies have also shown that the smell of coffee makes people more energetic and alert, mimicking the real effects of caffeine consumption. Hotels and airports could explore the use of coffee scent in business centers and conference rooms, potentially to improve the cognitive performance of business travelers.

There could also be benefits for airlines dealing with tired passengers. A scent of coffee emitted at the end of a long-haul flight can energize passengers, which ultimately leads to a better travel experience and a more positive opinion of the airline.

These customer opinions mean a lot to an industry that has been hit so hard by COVID-19. As tour operators seek to entice travelers back on planes and to foreign countries, they must find new ways to stand out.

For many of these customers, the desire to travel will already be strong. In a digital world, our ever-dominant screens have come to prioritize the visual and auditory senses over touch and smell. The pandemic has exacerbated this situation with its limits of movement and social interaction.

Away from these screens, travel retains the potential to provide valuable and invigorating multi-sensory experiences. Harnessing our sense of smell and recognizing its impact on perceptions and behavior offers huge opportunities for the industry to come out smelling like roses.

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