After nearly a year of stay-at-home orders, people are eager to venture out.

 US News reports that 56% of Americans are planning to travel in 2021 and hotel occupancy this year is expected to reach an average of 52.5%, an increase of 8.5% from last year. Yet anxiety remains high.  Feeling safe ranks as a top priority for one-third of the people anticipating their first post-pandemic travel in 2021.

So how are hotels planning to provide an enhanced experience that communicates a sense of clean and safety to returning guests?  Through a little bit of common scents.

Give guests what they want – reassuringly clean scents 

Studies show 63% of people are looking for fresh, clean scent experiences, and hotels know it. Many hotels are turning to scent to communicate that their spaces are clean, creating a reassuring experience the moment guests walk through the door.

“In addition to being actually sanitary, places we visit may need to evoke a reassuring sense of clean,” said Cheryl Durst, CEO of the International Interior Design Association. “Aroma could become as important as newly minimal décor with distanced seating, touchless entry and Plexiglas shields.”

The American Hotel and Lodging Association echoes this sentiment, finding that Cleaning and Hygiene came second, only behind Price, as guests’ most important booking considerations in 2021.

Diffusing a refreshing and reassuringly clean scent can drastically improve the guest experience. In fact, 8 in 10 people say that perception of cleanliness is the main factor that influences their view of a hotel’s values, according to JD Power.

Help alleviate anxiety

The pandemic has left uncertainty in the air for many people.  According to research, about 4 in 10 adults in the U.S. have reported symptoms of anxiety or depression since the pandemic began, up from 1 out of 10 adults in January of 2019.

Diffusing scent can reduce this anxiety and stress while reaching guests on an emotional level. Research demonstrates that people feel more relaxed after smelling pleasant aromas compared to a neutral scent and that scent actually taps into nearly 75% of the emotions we generate on a daily basis.

To see this in action, we visited with the Radisson Blu Alcron Hotel in Prague to ask how Prolitec’s scenting brings a sense of comfort to their guests. Prolitec diffuses Blue Wood fragrance for the property to create a comforting and relaxing atmosphere. The cozy wood undertones create a sense of relaxation, while the crisp apple notes and white jasmine provide brightness, all combining to create a welcome escape from stress for guests.

General Manager Michal Chour explained, “The sense of smell is one of the most influential human senses. Blue Wood fragrance gives our customers a very positive experienceProlitec aromas have brought another level of comfort for our guests.

Build Brand Loyalty

In addition to relieving anxiety and adding comfort, scent can also encourage guests to return and increases the likelihood that their stay will be remembered for all the right reasons.

The Journal of Marketing Studies reports that “a pleasant ambient scent improves evaluation of environments, quality of services provided, the level of pleasure experienced, the level of stimulation, and consumer intention to revisit the space.”

But it’s not just the feeling guests have when they are in the space, it’s how they feel looking back on an experience that encourages them to book again.

Studies show that long term, we are 100x more likely to remember something we smell than what we see, hear, touch or taste. Adding a brand scent to hotel environments can both overcome guest anxiety emerging from the pandemic and reinforce brand loyalty with memorably positive experiences. 

Whether on a business trip or the first vacation away from home since COVID-19 began, scent can help guests breathe a little easier during their next hotel stay.

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Cited sources:

Coronavirus pandemic Sets hotel industry back 10 Years, report finds. (n.d.). Retrieved March 24, 2021, from https://www.usnews.com/news/national-news/articles/2021-01-27/coronavirus-pandemic-sets-hotel-industry-back-10-years-report-finds

Latest news on the hospitality industry. (n.d.). Retrieved March 24, 2021, from https://www.thecaterer.com/articles/359851/hotel-room-cleanliness-the-key-to-customer-retention

Travel and Hotel Outlook for 2021. (n.d.). Retrieved March 24, 2021, from https://www.cpapracticeadvisor.com/small-business/news/21207033/travel-and-hotel-outlook-for-2021

Nirmita Panchal, R., & 2021, F. (2021, February 10). The implications of Covid-19 for mental health and substance use. Retrieved March 24, 2021, from https://www.kff.org/coronavirus-covid-19/issue-brief/the-implications-of-covid-19-for-mental-health-and-substance-use/#:~:text=During%20the%20pandemic%2C%20about%204,June%202019%20(Figure%201

Rebecca Powers Special To The Washington Post. (2020, June 12). As hotels reopen, some employ new scents to create a sense of clean. Retrieved March 24, 2021, from https://www.fredericknewspost.com/news/economy_and_business/tourism/as-hotels-reopen-some-employ-new-scents-to-create-a-sense-of-clean/article_7d16305e-3a13-551e-a50e-7c8f8a8e9ed0.html

Zhao, C., Yin, C., Pang, I., Jang, V., Gao, X., & Liang, Y. (2019, April 04). The magical power of aroma on relaxation. Retrieved March 24, 2021, from https://open.library.ubc.ca/cIRcle/collections/undergraduateresearch/18861/items/1.0387197

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About the Author

Heather enjoys delving into research exploring the ways fragrance impacts people in their daily lives. She is a VP at Prolitec, a global provider of ambient scenting, and a recent graduate of the MBA program at Tulane University in New Orleans.

When not studying the fascinating ways fragrance intersects the world of business, Heather renovates historic houses and gets her hands dirty with her non-profit ceramics art studio.

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