Why it made sense for luxury hotel chain The Leela to get into sensory branding

Hospitality brands launching their own sensory-led retail footprint is rare. And when it does happen, it can be a tough task to manage. No one knows this better than Anjali Mehra of The Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts, who sits down with The Drum to tell us more about the brand’s recent journey.

The Leela Palaces, Hotels and Resorts is one of India’s leading hospitality brands. The Mumbai-headquartered luxury chain recently announced its foray into the sensory world with ‘Tishya by The Leela’, a range of exclusively crafted bath amenities with the brand’s newly created signature fragrance.

“Luxury is all about crafting thoughtful experiences that resonate with the guests and sensory branding helps build immersive experiences that help deepen the emotional connect with the brand”, says Anjali Mehra, its senior vice-president of marketing.

She tells The Drum that the fragrance is inspired by India’s national flower, the lotus, and the wonder flower known as Nilgiri or Neelakurinji that blossoms just once every 12 years.

The newly launched amenity program has been created as 100% vegan, is paraben and SLS-free, and has been developed with natural extracts, floral fragrances and in 100% recyclable packaging.

The signature fragrance and the collection have been conceptualized and executed in collaboration with Kimrica Hunter International, India’s largest manufacturer of luxury toiletries and guest room amenities.

Why sensory branding makes good sense for a hotel

Even though sensory branding has been tried by some airline and hotel brands globally, this launch makes The Leela the first Indian luxury hotel brand to have introduced a signature fragrance across its numerous touch points. It will soon be launched in retail as well.

Mehra explains: “The idea behind launching Tishya by The Leela was to elevate the guest experience with a sensory immersion into the brand and to create brand differentiation.

“This also helps build an emotional connection between our brand and the guest so that we stay with them before, during and after they stay with us.“

Even though sensory branding for hospitality brands is an obvious fit, logistically it can be a very complex process she tells us. “The toughest part of the journey was to get the right balance between the product and the experience – something that is representative of the brand, is luxurious in its touch and feel, has a subtle fragrance that isn’t overpowering but makes you feel good and has the right formulation which is completely natural.”

In addition, the packaging had to be sustainable, for which the company explored several options to ensure recyclable packaging that was also practical from an operational as well as a guest experience perspective, she says.

Elaborating on the future game plan, Mehra says the company has already added a new car fragrance and a lobby fragrance to its bath and body collection across all its 11 properties in India.

Next on the cards, says Mehra, is the retail launch, which will happen in a couple of months as Tishya gets ready for a larger and enhanced footprint across more touch points.