How Scents Can Improve the Meeting Experience

Find out how scents can inspire guests and encourage productivity and positivity in meetings.

Fragrances are the last thing many meeting and event planners think of, especially when seemingly higher priorities, such as food, drink, centerpieces and furniture, music and lighting are top of mind. But forgetting to focus on fragrance can have a surprising impact on the productivity and positivity of your meeting. The sense of smell has the ability to affect how participants and attendees focus, engage, network and produce.

Sensory expert Jennifer Dublino, of Think Sensory, explains how scents can transform the event space and gives advice on incorporating scent at your next event.

Q: How can different scents be used to improve the productivity or positive perception of meetings? 

Different fragrances influence our moods, cognition and levels of relaxation and alertness — so it really depends what kind of meeting or event you’re having and what your goals are. For example, for a general type of social event, you can use any pleasant scent that is appropriate for the event or honoree, like roses for weddings, or the favorite scent of the person who is celebrating a milestone. You could also do a theme-related scent, like pineapples for a luau.

Scent can really enhance guests’ enjoyment of a gathering, especially when there is music and dancing. In a recent study, people in a nightclub environment reported that the music was better, the club was more fun and their moods were more cheerful when there was a pleasant scent, versus when the club was unscented.


Q: What scents do you recommend for meetings?

For corporate events, the scenting really gets very specific and strategic. For difficult and complex training events, I would recommend something with the scent of rosemary, which has been shown to improve cognition and complex problem solving.


For long seminars, you can use peppermint or rosemary to increase alertness and keep attendees focused.

If the event has to do with getting people to work together in teams, or there is some kind of negotiating going on, you may want to use lavender or something with amber or vanilla to encourage people to feel relaxed and comfortable.

If the event is one where people will be buying luxury goods, research has shown that a warm scent like cinnamon will encourage more sales. Companies that have a signature scent may want to use it at events they have for customers and prospects. 


Q: What are your favorite scents?

I love gourmand scents — scents of particular foods — like citrus [lemon, orange, grapefruit, etc.], vanilla, berries, tropical, honey. I also love warm, earthy scents like amber and tobacco, as well as crisp green and marine scents.


Q: How did you get into scents? 

As a career-long marketer, I’ve always been fascinated by the psychology behind what forms people’s perceptions and opinions and ultimately causes them to take action to buy a product or brand. When I started to learn about the incredible influence of the senses on this entire process, I was hooked!

We really don’t have any conscious awareness of the source of most of our perceptions and opinions, but nearly all of them are influenced by our sensory input.


Q: Share an example of a meeting or event where scents were used successfully.

Shania Twain uses scent to enhance her concert performances in Las Vegas — and syncs different scents to certain songs. For example, during one of her songs, she dispersed a campfire scent, but during a different part of her show, she used the fragrance of her signature perfume.

Katy Perry also used scent on her California Girl concert tours, using a cotton-candy scent for branding and experience enhancement. New Balance used the aroma of freshly cut grass at their "We Fit Kids" mall events.

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