In the scandalous life of the fictional cartoon character, Pepe Le Pew, Warner Bros. depicted a romantic, fun loving skunk who capitalized on the influence of scent as he journeyed on a wild pursuit of love. As the bright lights of Las Vegas, Nevada gleam against the dark desert sky, high-end resorts are cashing in on the power of scent. Many casinos are using particular combinations of aroma to encourage gamblers to languish and entice visitors to return.
While many would expect a casino might reek of a pungent mix of cigar smoke, stale ashtrays and spilt liquor, hotel executives realize that the potency of certain scents can increase brand recognition, encourage return visits, and influence gambling habits. Although spiking the air with fragrance isn’t a new strategy for big time casinos, the process of scent marketing has gained popularity in the past couple of years.
Research indicates that particular scents can sway the amount of time gamblers spend at tables. For example, Dr Alan Hirsch found that when a Vegas slot machine was surrounded by the sweet smell of fruit and floral undertones, patrons’ spending was notably increased by 45 percent above those slot machines that were lacking a sweet-smelling odor. Although there is speculation as to what influence the odors have on spending (optimism, a perception of success or feeling relaxed), the results are clear – the impact of scent is noteworthy.
Some marketing experts conclude that the power of scent lies it its ability to penetrate through the logical part of the human brain and straight into emotion. According to marketing consultant, Sudhir Kale, the human sense of smell evades any rational thought and opens the door for marketers to hone in on the emotions needed to encourage more spending.
The Vegas hotels seem to agree. As you walk through the Venetian’s spectacular lobby, you’ll be lured in by a unique aroma known as ‘Arancia’ (“orange” in Italian). This combination of Italian mandarin, white jasmine flowers, rose, amber, musk and sandalwood is so popular with guests, that the hotel has even created scented candles available for sale.
Mandalay Bay trusts the sweet notes of island coconut to entice visitors to stay longer in the spirit of relaxing on a tropical island. Guests may have a similar experience in other hotels using the mysterious power of scent. For example, the Mirage uses a tropical mix of mango and coconut; the Wynn pipes a scent referred to as “crisp rainforest” throughout their vents, and the Bellagio that uses a variety of seasonal scents ranging from a Japanese garden blend to holiday scents such as pumpkin and spicy apple.
Although not everyone embraces the idea of scent marketing (Palms’ owner George Maloof was never thrilled with the notion of using scent his hotel), it’s clear that using scent to engage consumers is a trend that with staying power. Fragrance experts agree that as long as casinos use scent to make guests feel comfortable, they will stay longer and likely spend more.