perfumer develops a scent library that inclues a collection of fragrances for immediate use


Many countries are loosening restrictions and reopening to international travel once again. Post-pandemic travelers are expected to flock back to luxury hotels, but their expectations have changed. Luxury hotels have a wonderful opportunity to deliver magnificent guest experiences that are memorable and authentic. Because scent influences how a person feels, companies can leverage fragrance for effective branding. Karl Winters introduces luxury hotel scents and the process you can use to create a unique scent for brand positioning.


luxury hotel offer premium accommodations with an elevated experience

A luxury hotel offers premium accommodations with an elevated experience. There are several characteristics that define a luxury hotel such as the quality and comfort of the rooms, beautiful designs, exceptional service, fine dining, and on-site experiences.


The magic of a hospitality brand is about “making someone feel extra special”. Because luxury hotels develop and nurture hospitality, they are known to add sensory programs that evoke feelings. Carefully selected scent, music and botanicals serve as mediums to tell a brand story. An authentic and consistent brand story instills the most memorable experiences and keep guests coming back for more.

the magic of a hospitality brand is about making someone feel extra special


In today’s overcommunicated world, a traveler can choose from several luxury hotel brands. The band guru Jack Trout defined brand positioning as the “process of differentiating your brand in the minds of customers.” How an audience perceives your hotel determines the long-term success of the brand.

brand positioning is the process of differentiating your brand in the minds of customers

A positioning strategy focuses on a select number of programs that highlights the strengths or uniqueness of your brand. Applying these programs consistently builds awareness in the minds of customers. It’s this new brand perception that ultimately influences the customer purchase decision.


xceeding guest expectations is a sure sign of success

A high number of repeat guests indicates that a luxury hotel is delivering on the brand promise. Guests that keep coming back for more is a sure sign of success – the brand is exceeding guest expectations.


Measuring guest expectations helps determine what’s working well and opportunities for improvement. While there are several on-property experiences that help with brand positioning, scent programs present an opportunity to evoke emotions and connect with your audience at a deeper level.


Our sense of smell has the strongest link to emotional centers in the brain. There are hundreds of different scents that our nose can detect, and each has the potential to trigger an emotion in us.
uxury hotels can communicate a a brand's story by leveraging the power of scent
We have all felt the mood-lifting effects of fragrance – citrus, peppermint and cinnamon will keep you energized, whereas lavender and jasmine will help you relax and unwind. Scents also have the power to transport you: fresh fruity scents such as bergamot and watermelon evoke feelings of a tropical sea breeze and can be applied to a luxury hotel resort next to the ocean. Floral woody scents such as jasmine and sandalwood evoke feelings of refinement and can be applied to an elegant, modern luxury hotel in the city center.
a luxury hotel can communicate a brand's story by leveraging the power of scent

A luxury hotel can communicate a brand’s story by leveraging the power of scent. The trick is finding the right combination of scent ingredients that connects with your audience. From the hotel lobby and check in desk, to the fitness room, spa, and restaurant, fragrance leaves lasting impressions long after the guest has checked out.


Choosing a scent is an important branding decision for any luxury hotel

Choosing a scent is an important decision for any luxury hotel brand.  This multi-step process starts with the selection of a scent branding company.


A luxury hotel will have their individual requirements for a scent – this can be as simple as scent diffusion in the hotel common areas. For a more consistent brand experience across the hotel, scents can be applied to products such as luxury candles, diffusers, bath salts, shampoos, skin care and much more!   Five points you should take into consideration when choosing a scent branding company:
  • The quality of the fragrance oils
  • Where the fragrance is manufactured
  • Custom fragrance creation by an accredited perfumer
  • Availability of in-house brand strategist and package designer
  • Private label manufacturing services such as scented candles, diffusers, shampoos, etc.


A custom scent evokes desirable feelings in the minds of your customer. With 20+ years’ experience, a perfumer has the technical knowledge to create a custom scent for a brand. Like an artist, a perfumer’s creativity allows them to articulate an experience or tell a story using fragrance. The higher the quality of the ingredients, the more beautiful and exclusive the final fragrance will be.

A perfumer is skilled at developing custom scents for a luxury brand

The creative process is a collaboration that starts with a consultation with the brand. Because scent descriptions are subjective and abstract, a mood board is conceived that visually describes the scent. Carefully curated colors, objects and images introduce the emotions and overall theme that is relevant to the brand. The mood board establishes a common point of reference and inspiration for the perfumer, brand strategist, and package designer.

A custom scent can be based on a single ingredient (such as lavender) or a combination of ingredients (such as jasmine and sandalwood). The perfumer composes several scent formulas that are evaluated by the brand, and feedback is provided. While the development process can last several months, the final custom scent is proprietary and exclusive to the brand.


perfumer develops a scent library that inclues a collection of fragrances for immediate use

A scent library includes a collection of fragrances that are available for immediate use. The perfumer creates a scent library that is representative of the four fragrance families – floral, fresh, spicy, and oriental. While a brand can select one or more scent, the disadvantage is that the scents are not exclusive to any brand.


Brands rely on the expertise of the scent branding firm to help with scent selection. While there are several approaches, choosing a scent starts with a mood boarding session. The brand is asked to provide visual elements that are representative of the scent theme – such as colors, typography, words, objects, scent ingredients, etc. These are placed onto a mood board and establish a point of reference for creative team.


Choosing a scent can be divided into 4 categories


Positioning requires a clear understanding of the brand objectives and the audience you are designing for. The brand strategist starts with a mood board filled with visual objects that define the brand positioning strategy.  The mood board sets the mood and visual elements that a perfumer can refer back to during the creative process. Is the brand targeting millennials or corporate travelers? Does the brand have an affinity for sustainability and wellbeing?

Marriott international encompasses 30 brands across 8,000 properties around the world. The luxury category offers 6 brands:  The Ritz-Carlton, St. Regis, JW Marriott, Luxury Collection, W Hotels and Edition. To enhance its positioning strategy, a unique luxury scent provides a level of continuity and awareness for each brand.


An emerging trend in luxury travel focuses on local experiences rather than the brand.  Using cultural scents, a luxury hotel brand becomes a platform for experiencing a local countries’ values. Similar to art and cuisine, fragrances are designed to reflect everything special and beautiful about a culture.

traditional art and color are used for inspiration when developing a cultural scent

Cultural scents and designs become the primary inspiration for a luxury scent. A luxury hotel scent in Morocco may take its inspiration from traditional art, pottery and color. The resulting scent maybe based on 3 ingredients: orange blossom, amber and frankincense.


Seasonal scents are designed to evoke one of the four seasons; Spring, Summer, Fall or Winter. Summer scents may include bright, fresh, floral ingredients whereas Fall scents tend to be warm, cozy and woody.


A luxury hotel may design a scent for special event such as their 5- or 10-year anniversary. This memorable milestone can also be marked by the development of scented products that are exclusive to this event. Additional examples of scents for special events includes conferences and weddings.