Using Ambient Scenting to Create a Unique Hotel Experience

Hotel Lucia Portland - Provence - Ambient Scenting

Special additions to a hotel like customized lighting and artificial intelligence make a property unique and compliment the guest experience—even if guests do not notice them. Ambient scenting is one of these elements—while not visible or often noticeable to guests, an original smell in public hotel spaces creates a customized facet for a brand.

Chris Lorino is a regional director of operators for Provenance Hotels, a management company that uses this technology in common areas. “Ambient scenting is the subtle, pleasant odor our guests smell when inside of our public spaces,” he explains. “The key is properly diffusing the scent so it’s not overwhelming in one location or another. For most of our hotels, the scent system works in conjunction with the mechanical air handlers that serve these spaces.”

These safe-to-breathe scents travel through hotel spaces without burning or heating and are hypoallergenic. Creating a sensory experience for guests can be helpful to cover malodor issues in areas that experience unpleasant aromas, like restrooms and fitness centers, while staying unique to a property.

Roger Bensinger, executive vice president of global commercial sales for Prolitec, a company that makes ambient scents, says, “What a guest experiences with our scenting technology is a noticeable, but not overpowering, consistent smell that literally floats through an interior space. This contrasts with traditional methods such as evaporation or heavy aerosol delivery where the scent changes over time or is too strong close to the source.”


Ambient scenting trends began when hotels started customizing every design element to create public spaces that guests will remember and return to; brands want scents that guests will link to their stay. For independent or boutique hotels in particular, scents can connect visitors to the property’s location. Lorino says, “Within the independent boutique space that Provenance is part of, we allow hotels to create their own sense of place and embrace uniqueness, so each hotel has selected a different scent that is specific to that one locality.”

Like other amenities, the sensory experience should complement the design and décor of a hotel. Available fragrances vary widely, from floral and fresh to woody. Prolitec has developed an evaluation process to consider both the design and ambiance of a property and match a scent with the brand. Bensinger says, “The process of creating a custom scent requires a close, consultative relationship with the client. We work with a team of perfumers and designers to develop the new fragrance, pilot it in the client’s space, and make adjustments as needed.”

Looking ahead to the future of ambient scenting, technology is under development to allow guests to choose scents in guestrooms and suites. Provenance is working with Prolitec to design a platform where guests can choose which scent they want in their room to appeal to every guest and provide a personalized experience.

“For every space, there is a scent objective,” Bensinger explains. “Lobbies are where the first impression is created, and the scent should enhance the company’s branding as well as the guest experience.”


Photo: Hotel Lucia in Portland, Ore. (Managed by Provence Hotels)


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Robin McLaughlin is digital editor of LODGING.


  1. Was just in a property where the “scent” was so overwhelming I needed to cover my nose and mouth so I wouldn’t get sick (burning throat, fuzzy tongue). As it was I still had some reaction to the offending aroma. I, for one, think this is a horrible idea that will keep customers away who have sensitivities to scents and perfumes. There are more of us than you realize. I will NEVER go back to the hotel in which I stayed last week with the offending smell.

  2. What are the effects of these synthetic fragrance chemicals that we are breathing in these establishments?

    Example of some research on synthetic fragrance chemicals:

    “When used indoors under certain conditions, many common household cleaners and air fresheners emit toxic pollutants at levels that may lead to health risks, according to a new study by researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.”

    “A survey of selected scented consumer goods showed the products emitted more than 100 volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including some that are classified as toxic or hazardous by federal laws.”

    I get an intense headache at establishments that use ambient scenting. I avoid hotels with ambient scenting when at all possible.

  3. The scent at the Hotel Lucia is one of the best smells I have ever inhaled. It was so delicious that I wanted to stand in the lobby and not leave. I wish I could recreate that scent in my home.

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