The Scent of a Casino: The Story Behind Casino Aromas
One of the more controversial innovations that modern megaresorts have are the unique aromas that fill the casinos. No, I’m not talking about cigarette smoke and liquor. The unique scents that most of the modern megaresorts filter their air with is a much more complicated and expensive process than many people realize, and perhaps take for granted. Though it is common to read complaints about how one particular casino overpowers their guests with its proprietary scent, one must consider the alternative: cigarette smoking and beer. Though the alternative is certainly available in the large number of casinos that do not employ the electronically generated scents, most of the megaresorts have contracted with one particular company that was founded in 1992: AromaSys. Today’s article discusses the history behind AromaSys and how, despite the internet chat boards that seem full of complaints, the positive aspects of the system far outweigh the negatives.
The scent of a modern Las Vegas casino megaresort is credited to one man: Mark Peltier. His innovation was first implemented in The Mirage in 1992. Working directly with Steve Wynn at the time, Peltier come up with a system that electronically pumps custom designed scents through the casino air ventilation systems. Though the system itself is not overpowering to the casino wallet, the oils that go into the fragrance can run upwards of $35,000 a month to a casinos bottom line, plus maintenance fees. Wynn was very specific in what he wanted and why. He understood how powerful scent is on a typical consumer, and his passion for what he wanted was instilled strongly into Peltier, who went on to grow and market his new company, AromaSys, as the frontrunner of the casino fragrance industry. Though there are competitors now that offer similar systems and not every new megaresort contracts with AromaSys, Peltier's company is responsible for the MGM Resorts properties, as well as Venetian and Wynn Resorts amongst many others.
Peltier’s advice isn’t always sought after, though. When his company was commissioned to install his system into the Venetian Resort & Casino for its grand opening in 1999, he was thanked for his advice on strength and implementation, then sent on his way. Though the Venetian remains a very loyal customer of AromaSys, they took it upon themselves to increase the amount of scent well beyond the recommended level of the company’s founder, at their own discretion. The management of the Venetian made that decision, and despite Peltier publicly admitting that he feels they have it set too high, they want the experience of the Venetian to be one that is not limited by subtlety. The Venetian’s proprietary scent is known in the industry as “Seduction” and is described by the company as “strong, soothing, and sensuous.” Though the internet message boards may agree with Peltier that the Venetian has it turned up a bit too much, there are obviously many reasons that the Venetian management has chosen to keep it the way it is, not the least of which is marketing. The Venetian has marketed its private label scent by way of air fresheners, scented candles, and incense to its hotel guests, and has done very well in that department. Many people don’t want their Vegas experience to end, and the scent of the environment often takes them back to the experience long after they have left, much like the smell of Plumeria flowers often reminds people of their trip to Hawaii.
Though it was Peltier that started AromaSys that first pioneered the idea of scenting the megaresorts, it was NOT his company that created a unique scent for the Palms Casino Resort in 2009. The Palms invested a few thousand initially to an unknown company to create a unique scent, based on Teakwood. The aroma was pumped throughout the property, against the personal wishes of casino owner George Maloof, and it met with disparaging results. The customer complaints outnumbered the compliments and the resort decided to discontinue the system as of June 2010. Maloof was never a fan of the idea to begin with, but he was compelled to try it largely because it has seemed to become the norm in most new casino resorts. It was actually the second time that the Palms had experimented with the idea, having first installed the system in 2001 but discontinuing it a short time later.
The idea behind scents influencing consumers is by no means a new concept, nor is it specific to casinos. Movie theatres have been known for many decades to blow the popcorn smell throughout its lobby to ensure solid popcorn sales (even if the popcorn they are serving isn’t always fresh). Cinnabon utilizes a much smaller, yet similar, system that AromaSys uses to pump their cinnamon smell out from their mall centric serving counters (the scent that consumers smell is mostly artificially generated cinnamon smell, not the fresh buns). When it comes to Las Vegas casinos, the importance of keeping customers loyal and branding the resorts with a unique and proprietary scent adds to the long term comfort level of the consumers which often keeps them loyal and coming back again and again, whether they realize it or not.
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