Resorts realize the power of fragrance

Top hotel executives are discovering that redoing their scent profiles can have a huge impact on brand recognition—and the all-important length of time that gamblers last at the tables.

Resorts realize the power of fragrance


The Perception of Success

Lacing the air with fragrance has long been a strategy for appealing to casino visitors, but it’s within the past few years that the process of coming up with that perfect bouquet started to involve CSI-like analysis. Casinos are more than willing to take the extra effort: Research shows that odours have an enormous impact on gambling habits. In a study conducted by Dr. Alan Hirsch, the director of the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation, spending at Vegas slot machines odorized with a fruity, floral mixture saw a whopping 45 percent increase over ones without a sweet scent. “The odour might have given people a more optimistic perception of being successful,” he says. “Or it could have made them more relaxed and less anxious.

A powerful memory trigger

That subtlety can be a powerful tool in garnering repeat business. The strength of olfactory senses as a memory trigger allows us to associate a scent or a note of fragrance in the air to a place, which can be a powerful and primal draw. “Odors can absolutely work in a subliminal way,” Dr. Hirsch says. “When you want to re-experience a nostalgic moment, a scent could make you want to return to the same spot. 

A sense of calm and relaxation

Hotels seem to agree with this perspective, even when gaming is not the objective. Vdara, for example, has piped two scents into the air since opening in 2009. “Over the years, we’ve discovered how important fragrance is to creating ambience,” says Vdara General Manager Mary Giuliano. “We really wanted to go with scents that were more exotic and unexpected, since that’s how we view the hotel.” A blend of green fig with a touch of cassis is used in the lobby while pink grapefruit notes swirl about in the spa. Devotees can purchase both as Scent Sticks in the gift shop, and in keeping with the property’s eco-conscious ethos, the fragrances are composed of natural essential oils and filtered through the interior without the use of aerosol. “Guests always tell us it smells amazing here,” Giuliano says. “They don’t know what the scents are exactly, but I can see how they transform people from the moment they walk in the door—there is this sense of calm, and you notice their shoulders relax.