Olfactory branding. The aroma of your hotel.

Building the corporate image of your hotel goes far beyond designing a logo, defining colors and choosing a name, and it goes far beyond sensory marketing.

A study of the Rockefeller University of New York, claims that people remember 1% of what we touch, 2% of what we hear, 5% of what we see, 15% of what we taste and 35% of what we smell. Scent branding is a very important part of your overall corporate strategy. You should take this into account.

What exactly is olfactory branding?

Have you ever walked past an ice cream parlor and been overcome by a spectacular aroma of vanilla? Do you really think it’s a natural smell, given off by the ice cream itself? Sorry to disappoint you… but that smell is no coincidence. The vanilla ice cream shares the window with strawberry, lemon and chocolate ice cream; however, when you walk past the establishment, it only smells of vanilla. You smell a pleasant, soft, sweet and deep scent, a scent that appeals to a very broad segment of the population and encourages purchase.


The same happens in some supermarkets. Have you noticed that the bakery section always smells like freshly baked bread and the fishmonger section never smells? Well, that’s no coincidence either.

Olfactory branding  is a marketing discipline based on the association of a specific smell to a brand, with the purpose of being immediately remembered when smelling its aroma. Olfactory branding seeks to position a brand in the consumer’s mind with a scent. It is one more piece of the puzzle, a key piece.

A smell has a very high capacity to evoke memories and sensations. In the hospitality industry, scent marketing can make a big difference to a vacation experience.

Branding smell

Olfactory branding applied to your hotel

There are many ways to apply scent branding in your hotel. But you must keep in mind that it is an element that must be in harmony with the rest, with the type of architecture, decoration, location, type of potential client, service… To inspire you, here are six types of atmospheres that you can achieve with subtle aromas:


It is one of the priorities of customers when they stay in a hotel: cleanliness. With a clean-scented perfume with marine notes, they will feel comfortable and confident, especially in the bathroom area. This scent will help you to reinforce the feeling of confidence.

Homey and cozy

You can create a “feel-at-home” effect with a cozy, warm, harmonious and traditional scent. A soft green tea fragrance with citrus notes is ideal for this sensation.


If your hotel offers a relaxing atmosphere, with tones, colors and textures that invite rest and tranquility, you can use a fragrance that promotes that feeling of peace. What is the best fragrance for relaxation? Undoubtedly, lavender, because it also brings freshness.


If you want to bring energy and vitality you can use fruity, citrus  and cheerful fragrances. They are ideal to wake up the day in the hotel’s common corridors and breakfast areas.


If your hotel is in a hot beach area, a good way to refresh the atmosphere is with a fresh scent, like freshly cut grass. They are sure to love it!


Many couples make a getaway to a hotel in search of a romantic atmosphere. If your establishment is Only Adults, this would be a very good option. Offer them a sensual, different aroma, impregnating the air, the sheets and towels with a distinctive scent.

Some examples of olfactory branding 

Let’s look at examples of hotel branding that include this feature we are talking about today. The Alua Hotels & Resorts chain, in some of its hotels, gives its clients the choice of 3 different aromas to set the ambiance of their rooms.

ALUA olfactory branding

Intercontinental Hotels Group uses the sense of smell to differentiate each of the 3 lines of the brand, following the expectations and desires of the target audience for each of them.

Holiday Inn Hotels has a universal scent used in all of the brand’s establishments around the world. Guests staying there can smell a fragrance that blends white tea with citrus notes, very refreshing.

When a scent is unique and is used to differentiate a brand from the rest, we are dealing with an odotype. Remember this word because we are sure to hear a lot about it in the not too distant future.

Scent, as a tool to enhance the guest experience, will help you differentiate and add value. Create emotions, awaken memories and be an accomplice with your clients in something more… Build your brand in all its aspects. 

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