Monday, June 1, 2009

The Tribe In The Media: Scents At Mohegan Sun

Feather News


Ever wonder what those scents are when you walk into the Mohegan Sun casino? An article in the Norwich Bulletin tells more.

Mohegan Sun design appeals to nose
By William Sokolic
The Norwich Bulletin
May 30, 2009

Mohegan, Conn. — You walk into the Casino of the Earth. The decor, color and design speak to the land. But so does the aroma. A gentle breeze of cedar floats through the air. The scent is one of more than a dozen distributed throughout Mohegan Sun’s vast property.

One section emits a scent of evergreen. Another, balsam. Still another, lavender. The programmed aromas are as much a part of the interior as the carpets and the walls, said Gary Crowder, senior vice president of resort operations. “We completed the picture with a sense of smell.”

Scents are added to enhance the guest experience by providing a full sensory experience.
When guests walk through the Casino of the Earth, for instance, they will experience scents that relate back to the d├ęcor surrounding them, Crowder said.

The Winter entrance has an evergreen scent that evokes the holidays. A floral aroma welcomes visitors to the Summer entrance. The hotel tower has a fresh linen scent. Other scents waft through the ballrooms and pre-function areas, the mezzanine and the shops.

Mohegan Sun is one of a growing list of casinos and hotel brands resorting to the release of scents to evoke a more pleasurable experience.

Mark Peltier, who co-founded AromsSys, the company that designed the Mohegan Sun package, calls it environmental or architectural aroma.

Matching scents

“We do not claim any therapeutic effect at all. It’s just part of the interior design to help create a more pleasant environment,” said Peltier, whose company is based near Minneapolis. “What we do is create aromas that fit with design and lighting. We’re like interior designers, but we work with things that smell nice rather than fabric.”

Mohegan Sun was one of the first properties to tap into this specialty. Now AromsSys works with some of the country’s leading casino hotels and hotel chains. Clients include the Venetian, Bellagio, MGM Grand and Wynn in Las Vegas, Trump Plaza and Borgata in Atlantic City, as well as Wyndham, Hyatt and J.W. Marriott hotels. Borgata elected to have one aroma — a mix of musk and cedar, with some added spices — at the main entrance.

The chosen scents work with the location, Peltier said. Mohegan Sun’s rural home and its affiliation with the tribe played into the scent selections. Similarly, a woodsy mixture would fit better in a lodge in Vail than a citrus aroma that would be suited for Miami Beach, he said.

“We come up with the ideas and present them to management. They like some, we modified some,” he said.

The company asks customers why they like a particular aroma. Maybe it ties into the carpeting or a view of this or that, he said.

The scents are tied to the air handling and air condition system. The result is subtle, but noticeable with most people.

“You can’t have the quantity so low it’s not noticed or so high it becomes annoying to people,” he said.

AromaSys has done a number of revisions, but the general category has remained the same, Peltier said.

There is ample evidence that certain scents create a certain sensation. The smell of popcorn in a movie theater triggers a craving for the stuff. The smell of coffee evokes a similar reaction at a coffee shop. Supermarkets bake fresh bread on the premises so passers-by smell the aroma and are drawn inside.

One major British bank introduced freshly brewed coffee to its branches to make customers feel at home.

Not gambling lure

The Mohegan Sun scents are intended to create a positive mood, but is not directly linked to spending more money, Peltier said.

“If someone associates good memories from such an aroma, such as playing happily as a kid during that time of year and smelling evergreen for example, then the odor will be pleasant,” said Gregory Sotzing, who specializes in polymer and organic chemistry at the University of Connecticut. “If there are bad memories, then the odor will not be pleasant. And if the person is allergic to the odors, they’ll have an awful time.”

The aromatic infusion was not created to elicit high risk-betting in gamblers, Crowder said. Still, in a 1993 study in Las Vegas, slot machine areas were sprayed with pleasant but distinct aromas and the amount of money gambled was compared with areas left unsprayed. Slot machine use rose by 33 percent, according to the study performed by Dr. Alan R. Hirsch, which appeared in Biological Psychiatry.

“We just try and match the environment,” Crowder said. “We give no consideration to the way they gamble.”

Crowder also said the aromatic design system does not dissipate the smell of smoke at gaming tables. But the high ceilings, the fact that smoke rises, and the ventilation system installed as part of the agreement with the state, table game smoke is not a major issue, he said.