Prolitec’s AirQ system brings a fresh scent to the gym at Retreat at Cross Mountain in San Antonio.
Prolitec’s AirQ system brings a fresh scent to the gym at Retreat at Cross Mountain in San Antonio.

How a multifamily community smells could be a deciding factor for whether a prospective renter signs a lease or not, and it also can complement a property’s branding to create a specific experience for residents.

While ambient scenting has been adopted widely in retail, hospitality, and restaurants to enhance customer experiences, it’s also becoming a marketing tool for multifamily communities.

“Within multifamily, there are some common objectives that every property has. One is to enhance the resident experience. That’s first and foremost. The objective is to create an experience that welcomes residents when they come in,” says Roger Bensinger, executive vice president of Prolitec, a technology-enabled ambient scenting services company. “We also play an important role in making a first impression when a prospective renter walks in, and that’s an important objective for our clients.”

With its AirQ patented scent diffusion technology, Prolitec has completed over 150,000 installations globally, with multifamily representing thousands of that number. The company is both the manufacturer of the delivery system and the bottling of the scents as well as the service provider. The systems can be freestanding, mounted on walls, or attached to HVAC systems.

The AirQ technology produces droplets that are about 1 micron in size. These micro-droplets convert to a dry vapor in milliseconds, creating uniform coverage of the fragrance. In addition, the intensity can be programmed for a specific time of day. For instance, when it’s quieter, not as much fragrance needs to be put out into the space, while it might be programmed higher during peak hours.

“With COVID, people are spending more time in their homes and working out of their homes,” says Bensinger. “Properties really have to pay more attention to their amenities and what they’re providing in their common spaces, and scent plays an important role in that.”

He says that multifamily communities are typically scenting in lobby areas, clubhouses, fitness centers, leasing offices, and models. In addition, sometimes his firm will be called in to add a system adjacent to the trash room to solve an odor problem or to refresh an older property that has musty smells or mildew issues.

Bensinger adds that the ambient scenting is a good branding tool. Some companies will use the same scent across all properties, and some will allow regional choices. The design of a community may factor in to the scent that’s selected. For instance, for a property that has an earthy and warm vibe visually, that pairs well with a woody, amber, or vanilla fragrance that also is warm. Prolitec has more than 100 scents in its catalog that cover the breadth of olfactive types—fresh, warm, relaxing, energizing, and light—to achieve a variety of objectives.

While most properties stick with a signature fragrance in the lobby areas, some will make seasonal changes as well throughout the year—warm and homey fragrances for the fall and winter and something more fresh and invigorating for the spring and summer.

Bensinger says there’s a one-time installation fee as well as a monthly service fee, which is driven by the size of the space and the number of hours of scenting each day.Yolanda Maldonado is one property manager utilizing the Prolitec system at Embrey Partners’ Retreat at Cross Mountain community in San Antonio. She says the signature scent at the property is Blue Wood, which is described as “a modern wood scent creating a warm and elegant atmosphere” and said to be a favorite within the multifamily sector.

Maldonado says she receives compliments all the time and has residents who want to replicate the scent in their homes. Former residents have even come back to get the information on the scenting. She adds that it provides a sense of contentment and ease.

“A first impression is everything,” she says. “If you have the good smell, the perfect temperature, and a good team, that leaves an impression. That’s why we have our long-term residents.”