No longer content to rely on a clerk's smile and a comfy bed, hotel chains are now counting on signature scents to bring guests back.
Omni spreads the scent of lemongrass and green tea in hotel lobbies of its 40 North American hotels. Omni also uses a chocolaty coffee scent in some coffee shops as a way of creating "a sense of place," says chain spokeswoman Christine Connelly.

Starwood Hotels has been working for about seven months to roll out lobby scents in about 600 hotels, a brand-building exercise that the company hopes will boost guest loyalty.

Starwood's Westin brand has a white tea scent with geranium and freesia that's designed to be calming, relaxing and sophisticated. At Sheraton, it's a mixture of fig, bergamot, jasmine and freesia, to convey a sense of belonging. And at Four Points, apple cinnamon is meant to remind guests of apple pie — and the hotel's down-to-earth attitude. Starwood's W brand changes its scent seasonally.

Scents are pumped out by inconspicuous vaporizers.

"When you smell it, it's very subtle," Starwood's Javier Benito says of Starwood's scents. "It's not something that's going to hit you."

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