Well, after a bit of a summer hiatus, we are back to work! Trying to remember where we were… ah, yes, we were discussing the value of recognizing the power of appealing to our guest’s senses!

Remember the more that we positively engage our guest’s senses, the more likely they will be to enjoy their overall stay, In turn they reward us with repeat business and perhaps some of those coveted 5 star reviews!

We have already covered sight and sound. This week we will consider the sense of smell and the impact it can have, positive or negative on our guest’s experiences.

Noses are not created equal

Of all the senses, the sense of smell presents some of our more challenging obstacles. Not all folks smell things the same. Remember this important fact when choosing between types of scents.


The best bets are usually in the form of scents that are derived from an essential oil variant of citrus scents.


Keep in mind that many folks have sensitivities to fragrances. Some disdain floral or overly masculine scents. Also a cinnamon or apple pie scent that might be a favorite in the home, may not translate to a public and professional space. The best bets (and most universally accepted) are usually in the form of scents that are derived from an essential oil variant of citrus scents. Clean and fresh will also usually win the day for both men and women.

How to disperse the aroma:

  • Stay clear of candles or ‘warmer’ type applications in order to avoid fires
  • Use diffusers that keep a steady stream of scent and offer a way to control the intensity for the space (Once you find the right amount…Don’t touch that DIAL! You will become accustomed to the scent and your reflex will be to turn up the scent. Just don’t do it!
  • Metered dose scent dispensers are another option
  • Avoid, scents derived from manufactured or fake sources. Our noses are very good at detecting a fraud.

Finally, have fun mixing and matching scents till you have hit on the one that has the most universal appeal!

One last thought for your lobby. If you or your employees eat while working the front desk, you need to be sensitive to the scent from those meals. Meals must not be offensive in smell. (No fish for example). Be sure that plates are cleaned immediately or that any paper wrappers are promptly disposed outside of the office area.

Guest Rooms

Avoid using air sprays in rooms, it will backfire! Whenever I detect that an air-freshener has been sprayed in a guest room, I immediately suspect a ‘cover-up’. The next instinct is to search high and low for the culprit! Honestly, if your housekeepers are doing a good job, then there should not be any lingering malodorous scent in the room.

We know the worst culprit of course is that rogue guest who has broken the no smoking policy. By the way, I hope you are enforcing your security deposit and/or smoking fines, because you are going to need it! It takes no small effort to turn a room around when a guest has smoked in it.

Steamers and disinfectants are needed to wipe down walls. Steaming soft furniture and dry cleaning the drapes. Every surface needs to be cleaned thoroughly.

PTAC units are a harbinger of bad smells. Filters need to be changed regularly and the unit itself cleaned with compressed air to aid in the removal of offending particles.

Popcorn ceilings may really cause an issue and sometimes the only way to mitigate the offending odor is with a layer of KILZ.

Pay special attention to the bathrooms as this is where many folks will smoke. They turn the fan on in hopes that the smell will escape. As we know, it doesn’t, or worse, it is transferred to the next room! The fan may need to be cleaned or replaced depending on how long the smoke was present.

Finally it’s time to turn on your ozenator. If you don’t have one, this is one we have used with success. But there are plenty others to choose from. Don’t skimp on this purchase though! A $49 unit will just not give you the results you need!

A note for on site managers and owners

Many hotel properties boast living areas for owners or managers. It is very important that you remember that your guests staying in rooms closest to you will probably be ‘hostage’ to the smell of tonight’s menu!

Avoid strong smells such as fish, garlic and some cultural and ethnic dishes that may have a strong scent. Remember, you are trying to bring in appeal to a diversity of guests and it is for their comfort that you exist.

Also, be aware of the time when you are cooking. It can be very disorienting to wake up at 3am to the smell of stew cooking.

Just be sensitive to what and when you are cooking and the impact it may have on your guests. Be sure your apartment is well vented to the outside of the building as well.

In closing

The right scent will not necessarily be memorable, nor on it’s own, will it make or break a guest experience. It will however be one more tool in your arsenal to appeal to your guest’s senses and help to ensure your guests a great stay.

Have fun with this and let us know your experiences with scents both good and bad and if you’ve found any