Seductive scents

Whether by accident or design, there's nothing quite like the wafting smell of freshly baked pastries to lead you, nose first, into a shop. And it's not just yummy foodie smells that can crack open the wallet: there's gorgeous perfumes, fragrant flowers, the sweet smell of coffee and, for me at least, the musty scent of second hand clothing (yes, it's weird, but I can smell a vintage bargain a mile off!).

As unlikely as it may sound, now travel agents are hoping to cash in. Some are pumping in appealing aromas into the travel shop such as freshly cut grass, ice-cream and orange groves, while Thomson and Fred Olsen travel agents have reportedly used the smell of coconut (in Fred Olsen's case in oil form, rubbed onto the back of chairs) to entice people to buy up Caribbean holidays.

It seems canny enough on paper: create a pleaseant, tropical (and topical) environment for punters and they'll spend some money. But are we really that dense as consumers? Would tickling our senses really get us spending? After all, buying a cruise isn't quite the same as buying a croissant. And just who's going to foot the drycleaning bill when you want to remove the coconut oil from the back of your jacket?

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