a field of lavender with trees in the background

It certainly keeps me out of Abercrombie & Fitch…

Do you remember the place, the smell and the taste of your first mind blowing culinary experiences? What about seeing your first fireworks display? Or checking into a boring old flight? Hang on a minute! First came hotels, but now airlines are jumping into the signature scent game, as travel brands aim to create memorable experiences not only with your eyes and wallets, but your nose too.

a woman walking in a room full of fruitsFirst Impressions

I’ll admit it, when Virgin Atlantic announced a new signature scent called “AIR”, it sounded really, really – really corny. A smell? Called Air? Have you been hanging out with too many millennials who don’t believe in working real jobs? But then it quickly occurred to me: I’m flat out wrong. Scent has driven travelers to hotels for years, bringing some sort of strange, comforting and  normalizing satisfaction to their global jaunts for decades, so the better question is: why haven’t more airlines done this? For the record: ANA and Singapore are the other two currently in the game. ANA offers a “refresh” a blend of woodland trees and herbs to send passengers to sleep, while Singapore Air relies on rose, lavender and citrus.

Lasting Memories

Whenever I’m in Tokyo, I find my pace begin to pick up as I near the Andaz Hotel. The signature scent of this property is the last thing I want to smell in life, and it makes me miss the hotel when I’m not there. Many people say the exact same thing about the signature Westin hotel scent.  So many people in fact, they sell it. When Virgin Atlantic shipped me an “AIR” candle, it was anything but. It was a wonderfully subtle mood setter, which was welcomed anywhere I put it. When you think of places that could always use a better scent, is there a greater candidate than the airport – other than the mens room, of course? And when you think of the emotional connection to travel experiences, could being able to place a scent next to a sight memory make a more loyal travel customer. It’s a question, not a statement, but one worth asking.

a field of lavender with trees in the backgroundSimply Invigorating

And then I found myself in New York, at a Hyatt event where someone was blending essential oils to create signature scent bottles for each guest, to help them relax, rejuvenate or invigorate. I’ll admit it, my first notion was to laugh in the face of these yoga loving hippies, but after applying a gentle dosage to my wrists and neck, it really did work. And when I flew back to London, on an overnight economy flight, the first thing I sought to do when I landed was pull out my little pen sized essential oil pack, to dab some invigorating scent onto me, and get my ass back into gear. These events then made me recall the swoon worthy cold, jasmine scented towel presented to me on an island off of Bali. It’s a thing!

In Moderation

Everything in moderation has got to be the best advice ever given in life, and sure, it’s easy for people to go overboard with this stuff, but first impressions, before anyone speaks to a check in agent, concierge or anyone else, are actually made with eyes, nose and ears. Airports, at least those not named Changi aren’t likely to change the eyes perception any time soon, but each an every travel brand that invests in a pleasing signature scent just may change one of those major impressions sooner than later.

Does scent play a part in your travel memories?

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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