Why do hotels invest money in developing their own scent? The answer is because scents make an impact and can influence your mood, perceptions, and emotions. A new study from Rockefeller University in New York found that humans can distinguish between 1 trillion different odors. More importantly, the sense of smell is linked to memories and is the only one you can’t shut off.

According to Neuromarketing author Roger Dooley, only 5% of our buying decisions are made consciously and the rest are made subconsciously. For hotels, if 95% of your guests’ decisions are subconscious, they might not think they’re choosing your hotel because it smells nice, but a memorable scent probably has a far stronger influence than you might think.

Developing a signature scent is therefore what a lot of hotels are doing right now. Scents reflect the image of the brand and you want it to be unique. “Our approach to scent development is to challenge ourselves to use essential oils that we have not used before and to find new combinations of essential oils that will create unique fragrances,” said Director of Harnn Products, Paul Harn.

Tony Wright, MD of NeoScent, and Maggie Kyle from Air Aroma also agree that a customized scent is a must for hotels. According to Tony, the most popular aromas in the hotel industry right now are “g**reen scents such as green tea, green herbals, and white tea,” so try to avoid these scents if you want to stay unique.

Paul added that herbal and spice blends are popular with sophisticated brands, while fruits and flowers are more common in mid-range to budget hotels.

In discussing the kind of scent that a hotel should choose however, one nagging doubt often springs to mind. No matter how wonderful the initial aroma, the smell quickly seems to fade.

One common occurrence happens to be de-sensitivity to fragrance. Sometimes, when a person/hotel employee is exposed to the fragrance for an extended period of time, they can become accustomed to the scent and whilst the strength of the fragrance is the same, they may feel as though the scent is less noticeable. This is similar to when a person applies their favorite perfume. After time they may not notice the fragrance but others around them can,” explained Maggie.

Before you call your suppliers about this issue, try to take your staff out in the open air for at least 5 minutes before asking them about the scent, or even better, maybe ask your guests if they can smell it. Most of the time you’ll find it’s not a problem with the scent fading – it’s just that your regular staff don’t notice it any more.

If you’re not aware of this, the danger is you might try to spray the room with more perfume, and that’s not how it should be done.

Perfume doesn’t need to be strong, but it means to be settled and make you aware of it, but it doesn’t slap you in the face all the time. It means to leave an impression with a chasing sense,” added Tony, on the misconceptions about just how strong perfume should be.

It’s also important to keep in mind that some people are more sensitive to scents than others. According to Tony, young people have much sharper noses so if your hotel targets the younger crowd, consider a more settled smell.

If your hotel doesn’t yet have any particular scent, consider developing one, taking what you have read from this article into consideration. Choose an aroma to suit your brand, keep it subtle, and your guests will be wondering why they just can’t resist coming back time and again.