First impressions can last a lifetime. A good or bad experience on a person’s first visit to a building can be the difference between a returning client or a lost opportunity. An opinion is formed within seconds of an individual walking through your doors and the scent that greets their nostrils will go a long way to deciding whether that opinion is positive or negative.
Smell is the only one of the five senses which has a direct path to our limbic system, the centre of our brain which is responsible for memories, mood and emotion. The other four must pass through the thalamus, which acts as a gatekeeper of sorts. It is this phenomenon which makes creating a welcoming aroma for your facility so important, explained Farah Abassi founder of Aroma360.
“When you see something, your brain processes it, you think and then you react. With our sense of smell there’s no thinking, no cognitive reasoning, so you’re reacting right away and there’s an immediate emotional response,” she said. “The first impression is the biggest impact scent will have on someone entering a property and you have a split second to make that first impression. Whether that’s to a prospective buyer, a prospective renter or an important guest.”
Smell is intrinsically linked to our memories. Certain scents can transport us back to a certain moment or time in our life, both good and bad. Controlling the aroma in your building can have a profound effect on the memory and the emotional response that is elicited from those using your facility.
“Once you walk in, if the scent is not right, automatically our minds think the worst. Maybe it’s not clean, it’s not fresh, it’s not well kept,” Abassi said. “Conversely, if there’s a good scent, you’re automatically going to assume it’s well kept, it’s prestigious or luxurious. Most of the scents we integrate are designed to create a feeling of luxury, welcoming and comfort. We work with large property management groups who want a signature scent which is representative of the whole company and have a consistent experience across all properties.”
Interior designer Steven La Fonte said smell is often overlooked when it comes to building design and management.
“It’s truly the invisible layer of design. It compliments the interior and welcomes people inside. Fragrance evokes the senses and memories, the same way music can remind you of a certain time.”
La Fonte and Abassi advocate a personal and individual aroma for each building they work with, but revealed some more general scents that are applicable to most facilities.
“We like to match the scent to the interior. But, speaking more generally a soothing white tea is always amazing as it’s a softer scent. We don’t want anything in a public place to be too overwhelming,” La Fonte said. “If the public space also has a gym, the best thing to do is to utilize eucalyptus or peppermint. This means there’s a certain scent in the common area that’s soothing or soft, but when you want to get motivated to workout you can become more energized. Sometimes it can be useful to add neutralizers if there’s the potential for an unpleasant scent, such as homes that have pets, or a facility that has a cafeteria. This can help mask the smell.”
Having worked with the likes of the Ritz Carlton, William & McDaniel and Continuum on South Beach, as well as smaller car dealerships, gyms, hotels and spas, Aroma360 has provided a variety of different scents for each facility. However, Abassi admitted each one aims to provide guests with the same overall feeling.
“Once you have tenants that are coming back, the amazing connection that scent has to memory, mood and emotion will make them associate that scent with a feeling of home, security and comfort,” she said. “It’s a special connection which goes past our limbic system, past even thinking.”
David Maher is the Online Editor of Facility, Cleaning and Maintenance