Illustration by Cristian Fowlie

Caroline Fabrigas didn’t plan to work with aromas. In her previous career, she rose up the ranks to become a senior executive for Clarins. It was her husband, Harald Vogt, who was the early pioneer in scent marketing.

“Harald was fascinated by
the idea that fragrances could be another form of branding,” Fabrigas says. “When he unexpectedly died in 2010, I needed to figure out
what to do with the business he’d started, Scent Marketing Inc. In the course of learning the business, I fell in love and decided to grow it.”

There’s an art and science to a successful scent program, Fabrigas says. The art is in the creation of
a signature scent that aligns to a brand’s identity, while the science is in how many scent diffusers to use, where to place them and how to calibrate them. Fabrigas’ company manages aroma programs for brands that include Hyatt hotels, 57 Ocean Miami Beach and 1 Hotels.

She says scent marketing works because our sense of smell is hard-wired into our limbic system, the part of our brain where memory is stored and instinctual responses, like fight-or- flight, are decided.

We spoke with Fabrigas to learn how casinos and hotels are using scents to build unforgettable experiences for their guests.

Why are businesses using aromas?

When people go out, they seek
an emotional experience. When communicating a brand, you want to hear it, see it, but you need to be able to smell it, as well. The guest will remember an experience longer because of its smell.

How does scent marketing actually work?

We start by understanding the brand’s DNA. Casinos want the guest to be alert but comfortable, so they stay longer to gamble or enjoy food and beverages. We develop a brief for the master perfumer, who creates the aromas.

What other types of venues use aromas?

Museums, hotels, fitness studios, spas, restaurants and bars. Banks are even getting in. They’re realizing people want to put their money where they feel a sense of solidarity and safety.

Will visitors notice these aromas?

When done well, you may not recognize it outwardly, like background music. What you’re getting is an impact on your limbic system. That’s how scent marketing works. Your limbic system senses an aroma and there’s a response.

Which scents do you frequently use?

Vanilla is an aroma historically known to give a sense of comfort. Also, the lavender family. But, when it comes to a hotel or casino, what we’re doing is creating a signature scent, a blend that expresses the values of the brand. This could include mint for focus, lavender for relaxation, vanilla for comfort and citrus for sustained energy.

Is there such a thing as a scent of the year?

In the 1980s, spicy fragrances were all the rage. Then, it moved into oral aromas. Now you have this huge wellness trend—organic, earthy, green, herbaceous aromas.

This story appears in the April 2020 edition of WestJet Magazine.