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Making sense of scent and sound at your next event

Experts agree: Emotions are driven by what you smell and what you hear.

Chalida Kunalai: “Scent creates emotion and can capture memories.” Credit: Surachet Soparattanadilok/TCDC
Chalida Kunalai: “Scent creates emotion and can capture memories.” Credit: Surachet Soparattanadilok/TCDC

The power of scent and sound to elevate the appeal of an event should not be underestimated, say experts in the field of sensory persuasion.

“The power of scent is huge. It creates emotion and can capture memories, good and bad,” says Chalida Kunalai, a scent designer from NOSEstory.

One of Chalida’s signature events is a walking tour to experience Bangkok ‘through the nose’.

“We can tell stories through smell. Smell communicates, just like an image or sound does,” she says. “On our Chinatown walking tour, I tell stories behind the smells. If it’s the smell of dried fish, I can tell the story behind it.”

Chalida was speaking at a webinar, ‘Travel with Nose and Ears: How scent and sound enhance your incentive travel programme design’, organised by SITE Thailand, Thailand Incentive and Convention Association (TICA) and Thailand Convention and Exhibition Bureau (TCEB).

“I always take a special bottle of perfume with me on a trip,” said Chalida. Later, that perfume will remind me of the trip – whether it’s India, Morocco or Chiang Mai - so incentive organisers might think about offering their attendees a small bottle of perfume to take away to remind them of the event.”

Ravi Ganglani, vice president SITE Thailand, said the webinar was aimed at alerting event organisers to the importance of scent and sound in designing a programme for guests.

Sound designer Rapeedech Kulabusaya, a music composer, producer and musical director with 28Production, said music can be used very effectively to reflect a company’s brand.

“If a company is young and vibrant, we can match that with sound. It depends on how far the company wants to push it. We can also be more subtle with our music to reflect companies that are more conservative.

“And while sound is a powerful tool to encourage emotion and create mood, it’s important to know when to use it. Silence is important, too.

Chalida added, “Scent can create excitement when people arrive at an event or produce a calming effect in a different room.

“It needn’t be a big budget item and can be something as simple as picking ‘one magic moment’ at an outdoor gathering when staff  can move among guests spraying scent.

“Having said that, it not easy to get it right as too much scent can turn people off, so having neutral areas with no scent is always advisable.”