What the nose knows

My Capsules co-blogger Anne Taylor-Vaisey just sent me this link to a story about how two movie theaters in Japan are going to add scents to movies to enhance the experience.

    When there are romantic scenes, audiences will smell a floral fragrance; a mix of peppermint and rosemary will accompany the heartrending moments; an orange and grapefruit citrus scent symbolizes joy; and an herbal-blend with a tang of tea tree and eucalyptus will accent anger.

I’ll have to bring a little orange/grapefruit essence to our next editorial meeting and spray it around to make everyone joyful. Hey, if it works in the movies, it must work in real life, right? It almost sounded like a joke, but then it reminded me about all the hotels that are already jumping on this bandwagon. Starwood's Sheraton brand is starting to smell like fig, clove, and jasmine, and Westin will be infusing its hotel lobbies with a white tea scent by June. Omni Hotels is wafting lemongrass and green tea through its lobbies, and using scent machines to scent the air of its coffee shops with eau de mochaccino and sugar cookie. And I’m sure we’ll be seeing more “scent branding” if the reaction is positive.

Sure, scent definitely does invite certain connotations and evoke feelings, and I’m sure more scientific testing was done on the scents hotels are choosing than on Obsession perfume to make sure it isn’t offensive to any particular gender or type of person. While I don’t mind it, and actually kind of like the idea, I can imagine this is a horror show for people with scent allergies. But, since scent is one of the most evocative of the senses, how can hotels not use it to create the atmosphere they want? I’d rather smell white tea than cleaning fluids, anyway.

My question is: Say some scientist figures out the scent that most stimulates learning—would you use it at your meetings? I think I just might, providing none of my attendees was allergic to it.

Update: Ken says there's no way he'd use if for one of his webinars, were the technology available to make such a thing possible.

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