Clearly airports are succeeding in finding ways to enhance their customers’ experience as passenger satisfaction levels are growing globally and are at a record high in Canada and the US, according to the JD Power 2018 North America Airport Satisfaction Study.
Increased natural light, more comfortable furniture, seating with iPads that allow the occupants to connect to food and drink menus, and improved retail options are all helping move the customer satisfaction dial in the right direction.
Indeed, airports are increasingly coming up with new and unexpected ways of improving people’s moods and energy levels while in the terminal, and one of the most creative strategies is improving how airports smell.
Research has shown our sense of smell is linked directly to the limbic part of our brains, the control-centre for our emotions. In other words, what we smell has a direct impact on how we feel.
Citrus fragrances, for example, can improve moods, reduce stress, and increase calmness. This zesty aroma isn’t the only scent proven to make people feel more at ease. Lavender has been shown to increase relaxation, having the same effects as anti-anxiety medication – lowering blood pressure, heart rate and skin temperature, according to The US National Library of Medicine.
“An airport can be a busy and strange place with some people rushing to catch a flight while others have plenty of time on their hands to relax and wait for boarding,” says Raymond Matts, a leading scent designer for commercial projects.
“This makes them perfect settings for scenting. Scenting, for example, can have a welcoming effect, drawing on the culture and beauty of the area to be visited. It also has the ability to be both energising and comforting, in the latter case possibly helping ease the tension of those that are scared of flying or overawed by the airport experience.”
With modern technology, the scent effect is created with computer-controlled diffusion appliances. Gone are the days of relying on aerosols and candles.
Providers in the emerging commercial ambient scent industry – such as Prolitec, Ambius Premium Scenting, and others – offer their clients fully programmable diffusion that is adjustable for the size of space and preferred intensity level. The diffusers create ultra-fine droplets that stay aloft, leaving surfaces free from residue.
Velana International Airport in the Maldives was an early mover in this fragrance trend, successfully diffusing scent in the terminals, lounges, and restrooms to enhance the passenger experience.
“We hear a lot of favourable comments about how nice the restrooms and other areas of the terminal smell,” says Ismail Shafeeq, managing director of the Maldives Airport Company.
“Our housekeeping department is very pleased with their effectiveness and also that the AirQ scent technology we use means that they no longer have to manually scent the restrooms with aerosols or replace aroma oils.”
In Hungary, Budapest Airport has decided to scent its security checkpoint areas to improve the waiting experience for passengers at what is typically the most stressful part of their airport journey.
“The positive feedback we have received from our passengers confirms to us that they are more relaxed in this enchanting scented environment and they feel the time passes more quickly,” says an airport spokesperson.
And it is not just airports that are embracing scenting as one of China’s biggest carriers, China Southern Airlines, has installed this technology onboard its aircraft and at 26 airport lounges across Mainland China, helping create a consistent and memorable branded experience.