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February 06, 2015

With brand distinction ever critical in the hospitality arena, airlines now are embracing the latest marketing trend: custom fragrance. No longer the purview of fashion labels and celebrity names, the Wall Street Journal noted this week that Delta Air Lines, United Continental Holdings, Air Canada and Turkish Airlines all freshen up their cabins with unique aromas.

The trend isn’t new. Singapore Airlines has piped the light, sweet “Stefan Floridian Waters” into its cabins since the 1970s, and British Airways tested, and later abandoned, its own essence in business class cabins in the early aughts. T+L told readers in 2009 that creating an olfactory logo was en vogue among hotel chains including LeMéridien, Mandarin Oriental, Shangri-La, Marriott and Ritz-Carlton.

Driven by science that smell has the power to incite loyalty, and drive emotional connection and memories, the “scent marketing industry is forecasted to be a $1 billion industry within the decade,” Rachel Herz of Brown University, an expert in scent and psychology, told T+L. Yet there are skeptics. As airlines reduce seat space, charge for checked bags and move to fare-based rewards programs, some wonder how much of an impact these atmospheric perfumes will have. But we’re behind any investment toward a more fragrant in-flight experience.

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