Using Scent to Close the Sale



Ruthanne Terrero with Jeff Johnson and Todd Orlich
At Montage Laguna Beach: I’m shown here with Jeff Johnson, VP of Montage Hotels & Resorts, and Todd Orlich, GM of the Montage Laguna Beach. I visited the famous seaside resort during a recent West Coast trip. Watch for my report in a future issue.


I walked past a store that sells comic books today. I knew it before I even saw it because I could smell the paper and the ink and the dry mustiness of the newspaper shop that has a single counter up front holding packets of gum and cough drops. On the floor was one pile after another of magazines, reaching all the way to a back table where a single visitor scraped away at instant Lotto tickets with the edge of a dime.

It was the first chilly September morning in Manhattan and I was shocked at how instantly the scent of the shop and the nip in the air transported me back to my youth in Yonkers, NY, when going to purchase a comic book every Sunday after church was the greatest luxury I could imagine at the time. My brother and I were each allowed to select any one that we wanted. For me, it was easy (an Archie comic), but he had to choose between Archie and boy-related publications like Superman and Spiderman.

I have other favorite city scents that take me back to lovely times.

The other evening, before it had even cooled off, I caught a waft of pretzels roasting on a cart on Fifth Avenue. Even though the air was hot and humid, it was most certainly a precursor to fall, which I surprisingly and suddenly longed for as I passed the pretzel man.

I happen to love how New Orleans smells. Not the odor that Bourbon Street serves up in the morning before the sidewalks have been hosed down, but that slight mustiness caused by a climate that delivers constantly high humidity. The moment I touch foot in Louis Armstrong Airport and inhale deeply, I know I’m back in one of my favorite cities. It makes me feel secure.

Malaka Hilton of Admiral Travel International says that her favorite travel scent is the blue agave soap from Lady Primrose. “Takes me back to One & Only Palmilla!” she says. Mary Jean Tully of The Cruise Professionals tells us that being in Africa in the bush delivers her favorite travel scent. “Nothing beats the fresh air smell of being in the bush—it alters your senses!” she says.

A fan on our Luxury Travel Advisor Facebook page says that the scent of plumeria brings back terrific memories. “Takes me back to that wonderful lei I received when I first landed in Hawaii. Much needed after being on a packed flight for hours.”

Do you use the sense of smell to paint an image of the experiences your clients will enjoy in a destination you’ve been to? As you’re describing to them how they’ll feel when they travel to view Machu Picchu, do you tell them how the air will smell when the sites of the ruins are unveiled below them through the mist? If you have visited a hotel and, like Malaka Hilton, been able to bring back a sample of a lovely soap or lotion that’s used there, why not share it with your client as they’re sitting at your desk looking at photos of potential places to go?

Using every bit of inspiration doesn’t hurt. After all, you’re dream makers and fantasy fulfillers. Why not give it a shot?

As for me, I’m headed back to the comic store to get my fill of some very happy childhood memories.

Virtual Event

Pivoting Back to Travel, The Destination Weddings & Honeymoons Edition

2020 put the nuptial plans of thousands upon thousands of couples on hold, but with the promise of widespread vaccine distribution in the near future, it’s time to get back to planning and ensure your clients live out the destination weddings & honeymoons of their dreams. Hear from top suppliers and destinations on wedding venue & ceremony options, romantic destinations & resorts and more when you watch the event on-demand.

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