Berry Good News

Along with complimentary copies of USA Today, Omni Hotels guests now also get free muffins — or at least a whiff of them. The luxury chain has teamed up with Starbucks on a promotion placing scented stickers on the front pages of USA Today. The first layer of the sticker encourages guests to start the day with a cup of Starbucks. Peeling back that sticker releases a berry aroma — and a message suggesting guests pair the coffee with a fresh muffin.

The campaign reflects a broader trend toward sensory marketing, in which advertisers key on consumers’ senses to make a brand message stick. Guests are already greeted by the scent of lemongrass and white tea when they enter Omni Hotel lobbies. “We’ve spent a lot of time activating senses in order to create memorable guest experiences,” says Caryn Kboudi, vice president for corporate communications at Omni.

Omni is the first hotel to use the scented stickers, but USA Today is already fielding inquiries from others about the effort, says Michael Davidson, vice president of circulation sales at USA Today.

How will Omni know if the promotion passes the smell test? After six months, the company will seek feedback from guests, both anecdotally and through guest satisfaction studies. It will also check for any impact on breakfast sales at Starbucks or hotel eateries that sell Starbucks coffee. But sniffing out the return on investment is likely to be tricky.

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