Olfactory tourism: the new multisensory trend in travel and hospitality

The sense of smell gives the mind an unconscious, strongly emotional, instinctive perception of our surroundings. Directly linked with the nerve centres responsible for processing memories, feelings and moods, smell is an incredibly powerful communication channel, allowing for truly immersive experiences.

Neuroscientists, fragrance specialists and marketing professionals are well aware of the vital role played by scent in our daily lives. Now, the travel and hospitality sector is also waking up to the potential power of scent notes and the psychology of smell.


From scented museums to multisensory travel experiences

Exploring new places, cultures and destinations is a multi-sensory experience par excellence, but until now the sense of smell had been considered marginal. In fact, odour molecules are a constant presence in our lives: they may be invisible, but they deeply condition our relationship with the world, places and even people.

That’s why more and more museums, event organisers, cultural institutions and hotels are choosing to explore new sensory frontiers, turning to scents to give guests and visitors an unforgettable experience.


The sensory depth of scented exhibitions

In Europe, several museums are leading the way with innovative installations that add smell to the different senses that allow visitors to truly ‘live’ artworks and collections. The Museum of Ulm in Germany has organised the Follow Your Nose tour: it’s an engaging olfactory experience that enriches paintings of subjects such as flowers, gardens or tables of food, with dedicated scents that visitors can sniff, allowing them to fully immerse themselves in the scene portrayed. It was developed in partnership with Odeuropa, a Europe-wide research project working to devise new strategies for classifying and conserving our immense olfactory heritage.

The Museum of Ulm isn’t the only one experimenting with scent: in 2022, the Louvre organised olfactory tours of its still life collection, while the Prado Museum in Madrid launched an entire olfactory exhibition inspired by Jan Brueghel’s set of paintings evocatively titled ‘The Five Senses’.


Scent as an element of cultural heritage

This new trend reflects the cultural and historical importance of fragrance: perfumes are, to all intents and purposes, part of the cultural heritage of specific places, historical periods and the traditions that characterise different nations and tourist destinations.

Fragrances make an experience more engaging and convey unforgettable emotions, and they deserve to be safeguarded. Odeuropa is doing just that by creating its Encyclopaedia of Smell History and Heritage and working with UNESCO to launch concrete protection policies for smells, considered a fundamental cultural value.

Another institution, the Amsterdam Museum, launched olfactory city tours in 2022, called City Sniffers: A Smell Tour of Amsterdam’s Ecohistory. A ‘Rub’n’Sniff’ map of historical odours and emblematic aromas allowed participants to go on a self-guided exploration of the city’s streets and canals.

Another innovative, forward-looking project was devised by the artist Kate McLean, who started with her own personal practice of ‘smellwalking’. McLean runs walking tours of the world’s most fascinating cities, gathering the scents discovered by those taking part, and translating them into hand-drawn olfactory maps, making the invisible visible.


Olfactory marketing in the hospitality sector

Exclusive fragrances have been used for some time now to scent hotels, spas, wellness centres and members’ clubs, and they enable leading luxury brands to offer an all-encompassing, multisensory experience. These accords – often bespoke scent ‘logos’ – are diffused in the air, giving guests a truly immersive sense of the ambience.

In short, perfume is a tool for intensifying memories, flavours and travel.


Add fragrance to museums, destinations and hotels with Scent Company

At Scent Company, Fragrance Specialists, Master Perfumers and communication experts work as a team to support the olfactory tourism trend, and allow our clients to scent their spaces with an exclusive fragrance that is identifiable with their brand.

If you too would like to experiment with the power of perfume, contact our scent marketing and olfactory branding experts to define your scent logo or choose an exclusive blend of notes to get your message across to guests’ and customers’ subconscious minds.

Our experience alongside international luxury brands means we can accompany you every step of the way: from defining your goals to designing your fragrance, producing it and diffusing it effectively in your space. An extensive international network of partners means we can provide consulting and assistance 24/7, wherever your project takes shape.

Contact us to give your location an olfactory identity, scent your museum, or give multisensory nuance to cultural events and win over your audience.


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