The effectiveness of using scent to appeal to customers in the aircraft cabin is disputed by some industry branding specialists. But, to win the interiors arms race, airlines need to make the most of every weapon in their arsenal.
Iberia Airlines has followed the advice of leading brand strategists by appealing to the full range of senses in the cabin; adding scent and sound to touch, taste and sight through its introduction of a signature scent, Mediterráneo, and a new soundtrack compilation of popular Spanish music to set the mood as passengers board and deplane.
By appealing to all the senses, Iberia reinforces a uniquely Spanish accent with universal appeal in an attempt to make flying on Iberia memorable. As Francisa Patilla, Chief Product Design and Services Manager at Iberia tells Skift: “Iberia developed this aroma of Mediterráneo because we want to the Iberia brand to all aspects of the travel experience.”
The aroma of Mediterráneo is composed of three layers of scent. Top notes of lemon, Bergamot, and citrus blossoms are followed by a floral heart of rose, iris, and jasmine, and undertones of white musk, vanilla, and sandalwood. It is a fragrance built on fresh aromas, soft and delicate which are also selected to generate a restful experience for passengers.
“Our objective was to go far beyond a simple change to our brand image,” says Carolina Martinoli, Director of Marketing for Iberia. “We want to transform our customers’ epeience at each point of contact using sensory elements, with scent and sound supporting the change.” Martinoli also emphasises that the scent has a uniquely Spanish character, consistent with the brand’s personality.
Margarita Blanco, Head of External Communications at Iberia tells Skift: “We developed the fragrance ourselves, in collaboration with a specialized company. The crew applies the scent before the passengers enter the cabin,” so the aroma greets them as they come onboard.
As part of the airlines’ aim to provide a seamless experience, the scent was also introduced at the airline’s VIP lounges.
The connection through sound is begins at boarding, with a soundtrack of twelve Spanish songs which reflect the vibrant and expressive attitude of the airline’s brand. The soundtrack is a contemporary selection with a blend of latin and mediterranean music, with the aim of introducing passengers around the world to Spanish music, literally setting the tone for the journey.
As part of its new cabin interiors image program, Iberia has attracted the also attracted the sense of touch by using comfortable breathable fabrics to line the plush cushions on its seats, in all classes of service. It has appealed to the sense of sight by keeping colors in the cabin muted and restful, highlighted only with a touch of color associated with its Spanish color palate of red, gold, and aubergine. The sense of taste is addressed by the unique Spanish flavors in the selection of dishes available on the airline’s onboard menus.
A multidisciplinary group, led by Spanish chefs Paco Roncero, Toño Pérez, Dani García and Ramón Freixa have collaborated with Iberia’s catering supplier to present original menus which are both healthy and built around mediterranean flavors.
“We have designed a gastronomic offering for Iberia which uses the best ingredients of the mediterranean diet and is also based on traditional Spanish cuisine,” says Ramón Freixa, the first of the cadre of chefs to introduce his menus for the Business Class cabins on mid-range flights within Europe and to Africa. “They are simple recipes but of great quality, with a touch of the vanguard.”
The introduction of star chefs to consult on in-flight menus has quickly become a standard of excellence for airlines, to provide their passengers with a rich cabin experience.
Iberia also relieves passengers’ sense of boredom by providing a broad selection of movie, television, and music titles in its In-Flight Entertainment; and addresses passengers’ sense of urgency, by providing OnAir GSM and Wi-Fi In-Flight Connectivity on its transatlantic routes—through which travellers, eager to stay in touch with the ground, can chat, tweet and send text messages using their Personal Electronic Devices.
James Huntly, Creative Director of Brand at Honour Branding, London, recommended appealing to the senses to participants at the Passenger Experience Conference in Hamburg earlier this year. Huntly explained in his presentation a brand which gives a full sensory experience to its customers, connects at many psychological levels—becoming memorable. He quoted Maya Angelou saying: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
Photo credit: One of the new selections on Iberia's Menus/Iberia