The Top 5 Scent Marketing Fragrances for Luxury Boutique Hotels

Luxury boutique hotels have become a “global phenomenon” that parallels the dynamic nature of both the industry and the needs of today’s vacationers.

American entrepreneur, Steve Rubell, first coined the phrase, ‘boutique hotel’ back in the 1980s. At the time, he was referring to his own crowning achievement, the Madison Avenue Morgans Hotel, which he owned with Ian Schrager, an entrepreneur, hotelier and real estate developer. Since then, the term has come to indicate a kind of “nirvana” for the modern traveler, providing every conceivable whim with the exception of a magic lamp and a genie that lives within. (And that too, might even be available with the wave of an elitist wand, secret password or something of that ilk.)

Accordingly, in an industry where every finite detail has absolute intention, it’s no surprise that the scents that gracefully waft through these unique spaces receive the same amount of attention and focus as their architecture and design. Fragrance has the power to help define an environment and is scientifically proven to positively affect the moods of any business’ clientele, increase sales and inspire brand loyalty. But how does a boutique hotel invoke feelings of luxury and exclusivity through scent?

This article details the facts, statistics and demographics behind this exploding industry, and thanks to our chief perfumers, provides the top five fragrances luxury boutique hotels are using to please their clientele and enhance their bottom dollar.

The luxury boutique hotel is here to stay

The luxury boutique hotel is synonymous with customization and cool lifestyle experiences as exemplified by the Marriott International, Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG), Hilton Worldwide and Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide. Luxury boutique hotels have become more and more popular in the last decade and have morphed from a “niche product” into a luxurious and intimate environment that caters to the modern traveler, who is much more sophisticated than the adventurer of yesteryear.

Prime locations for luxury boutique hotels

The luxury boutique hotel phenomenon is not reserved for exotic far away locations. In fact, most are located in what could be termed “happening cities” such as New York, London, Miami, San Francisco and many other destinations throughout the world. In the last few years, companies have been targeting smaller cities with large residential areas such as Brooklyn, New York, for example, which may have a handful of standard hotels, but nothing like a luxury boutique hotel and all it can offer.

Also known as lifestyle hotels, villas and wellness hotels, the hallmark of these very specific settings is their one-of-a-kind architecture and design. These niche spots attract all kinds of clientele with unlimited budgets, ranging from the latte-sipping generation and wealthy milennials in their early 20s with mid to upper incomes to middle-aged hipsters and adventurous, retired eccentrics seeking exciting and unique décor over the bland standardized hotel rooms that might have been perfectly satisfactory for their parents and grandparents.

These specialty hotels are cropping up everywhere, proving that location is not their main attraction; it is rather, the amenities they offer. Tech gadgets, art displays and entertainment features greatly contribute to the kind of atmosphere desired by many younger travelers today. Even more, carefully selected scents are adding an intangible factor to the boutique hotel’s customized atmosphere, creating a special and personalized ambiance, reinforcing brand recognition, attracting new customers and above all enhancing hotelier’s bottom lines.

Luxury Boutique Hotel Statistics

The Boutique Hotels industry is outperforming the broader Hotels and Motels industry and continues to grow at a spectacular rate. Experts believe their success is largely due to a marketing methodology that is focused on social media communication. Internet platforms such as Facebook and Twitter enable hotels to save money, eliminating the need for costly reservation platforms and the promotion of direct bookings. “Guest technology” concerns cyber venues that provide a seamless experience for the traveler that begins with a keyless check-in and includes streaming media options and ordering gourmet foods from restaurants and local eateries.

Even though the industry took a hit during the last recession, over the course of the last five years boutique hotels have experienced steady growth. This is due to a number of factors including an increasing rate of both domestic and international travel. The burgeoning consumer trend towards unique lodging and experiences has also contributed to their rise in popularity. Estimates are that by 2021, the industry will continue to grow at an annual rate of 4.7% per year, gleaning $7.5 billion in 2016, indicating that the demand for personal and “niche” services is not only on the rise but are here to stay.

The psychology of scent and luxury boutique hotels

A luxury boutique hotel with a memorable fragrance or signature scent reinforces a special sense of comfort and belonging. In addition to creating an unconscious bond between the guest and the hotel, scent branding reinforces the hotel’s underlying goal, which is to provide a truly one-of-a-kind travel experience. Scent lingers in memory and creates a sense of intimacy that is not forgotten and often becomes the trigger for recall.

Bjorn Hanson, global hospitality leader for Pricewaterhouse Coopers states: “Most boutique/lifestyle hotels aim to offer the guest some type of experience that is mostly aimed at younger generations, with more natural materials, fabrics and food geared toward “grazing” rather than dining, with a greater emphasis on technology and common areas.” Every detail is not only thought about but tailored to the new, modern traveler, everything down to the scent that fills the lobby, hallways and rooms.

Niche marketing within this industry dictates boutique hotels should have much fewer rooms than standard hotels because the specialized individual service required becomes more and more difficult. In spite of this, they do seem to range in size from very small in double numbers to more than 600 rooms, and every inch, no matter the size, requires an even balance of consistent, aromatic fragrance, which takes sophisticated air diffusing technologies and systems.

But what should a luxury boutique hotel smell like? Rather, what fragrance blend suggests high-end intimacy and at the same time welcomes guests with a sense of familiarity and comfort?

The top five fragrances recommended for luxury boutique hotels

While we’ve covered the top fragrances for hotels and hospitality brands in a previous article, the following five fragrances represent the more exotic blends specifically tailored for the luxury boutique hotel market. Below our chief perfumer provides the top five fragrances this expanding niche is using to amplify their brands. As these fragrances may not be well known to many, a brief history of each will help to clarify what they are, the fragrant notes that make them so unique and why they work so well within the luxury boutique hotel environment.

1) Tonka Bean

This is one of the most delicious aromas in the world of fragrance. Spicy and woody with key notes of nutmeg, cinnamon, clove, patchouli and sandalwood, this scent is chock full of mystical aromas that blend into an aromatic lingering vanilla cloud. Tonka refers to a flavorful bean from South America and its main ingredient, coumarin, derives its name from “cumaru”, which in Amazonian dialect is the name for the actual Tonka bean tree.

Coumarin has a colorful history dating back to the late 19th century and the burgeoning perfume industry. It is a synthesized material in most perfumes, but it’s also found in abundance in nature in tonka beans. The scent is softly uncommon and offers a guest in a luxury boutique hotel an unusual olfactory experience and an atmosphere that enhances all the senses. It complements the specialized and detailed niche services a guest can only find in a luxury boutique hotel.

2) Sandalwood blends

Sandalwood blends are memorable scents that live in the memories of the modern traveler. Even though luxury boutique hotels are not necessarily dependent on their locations for their success, sandalwood is truly a fragrance that evokes the mystical lure of Far Eastern lands such of India and Ceylon. Sweet and woody, this fragrance dates back 4,000 years to the ancient world and the glory days of India, Egypt, Greece and Rome. Many Indian temples and structures were constructed of sandalwood and it was a major ingredient in Egyptian embalming rituals. Since ancient times, the scent has also been integrated into the religious and spiritual traditions of India.

3) Tamboti Woods

This is not a fragrance any traveler is likely to either forget or experience in a run-of-the-mill hotel room or lobby. It comes from a rare, dense and richly colored hardwood found in Africa’s sub-equatorial regions, such as Mozambique, where it is considered a precious timber. The tree produces a sweet smelling sap that is very pleasant, creamy and slightly spicy, with woody notes of cedar.

Tamboti Woods is often mixed with other oils and aromas, and if you’ve ever shopped at Hugo Boss, they’ve been known to pump the rich scent of Tamboti Woods, blended with citrus and tonka bean, through their retail stores.

4) Amber Blends

Amber is a fossilized resin that has fascinated the human race for thousands of years. Throughout history, amber oil has been used for its medicinal, healing, and aphrodisiac qualities. It is called “the window to the past” because of its one-of-a-kind ability to capture and preserve any organic material that comes in contact with it. At least 214 plant species down through time have been identified through the scientific analysis of amber. It dates back as far as 60 million years and was one of the world’s earliest traded commercial products. The Romans used amber in many different objects, including coinage.

The scent of amber blends is sensual, woody warm and spicy, and they evoke opulence and pleasure. This renders their specific appeal the perfect accompaniment to luxury boutique hotels servicing a wealthy and demanding clientele. Top notes of cinnamon and nutmeg are initially invigorating and beguiling, and middle note inclusions of amber and creamy sandalwood reinforce the sensuality of scents created with amber blends.

5) Oud or Oudh

Oud has been referred to as the “five thousand dollar per pound scent”, for the very reason it is quite simply one of the most expensive raw fragrance ingredients in the world. It’s extracted from the wood of the agar tree, which is primarily found in Southeast Asia, India and Bangladesh, and its resin has developed the moniker “liquid gold” because of its rarity — only one in ten wild agar trees produce it.

The route of Oud’s highly distinctive fragrance, and rarity for that matter, is born when the heartwood of the tree develops a form of fungus or mold. As the mold takes hold only a few of the trees produce a dark aromatic resin called agar or aloes, also known as Oud. The fragrance that emanates is complex, pungent, yet pleasing and invokes warm, smoky notes with hints of dampened wood. It’s also been described as having an “oriental-woody” scent with subtle blends of flowers and fruit, but the predominant odor is primarily musky and “animalistic”, which when incorporated into perfumes can be quite sensual.

Blended with an array of other oils, its unusual, aromatic profile becomes one of the most alluring and unique olfactory experiences for any interior environment, catering perfectly to the specific nature of luxury boutique hotels and the opulent adventurer.

Premium scent marketing and commercial air diffusing systems

Hotels and scent marketing are forever intertwined and even more so in the case of luxury boutique hotels. A special scent represents an unspoken promise to the modern traveler and its one we’ve been fulfilling for years. As one of the leading ambient scent branding experts in the world, Air-Scent has been serving the scenting needs of suppliers, distributors, wholesalers and clients for well over seven decades through our in house fragrance division and our large array of commercial air diffusion systems. In fact, we have one of the largest and most diverse lines of air freshening systems in the world, and we have an immeasurable amount of on-site experience. So whatever your need, we’ve not only got your scent, we have the most sophisticated and means to diffuse it. Just ask!

Final thoughts on luxury:

“The greatest luxury is being free.” Manolo Blahnik


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