The profound impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the global hospitality and restaurant industry cannot be underestimated. If there’s any silver lining to the impact the coronavirus pandemic has brought to the HoReCa industry, it’s that many businesses are seizing the opportunity to test new digital marketing tools and come up with unusual solutions. The rise of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) has opened the door for many business sectors and helped them move quickly and remain focused to understand and quantify the operational and financial aftereffects of the pandemic for their business. The restaurant and hospitality industry is slowly but steadily adopting the up-to-date technology of Augmented and Virtual Realities.
What Is Augmented and Virtual Reality?
Augmented Reality or AR enhances the real world with virtual content placed to the user’s real-life experience. Currently Augmented Reality is one of the biggest technology trends, and it’s only expanding its possibilities as AR ready smartphones and other devices are becoming more accessible around the world.
Virtual Reality or VR is a simulated experience a user can explore and interact with. VR implies that a person is separated from reality and put in a computer-generated world with the use of a VR headset. To dig deeper into these technologies, please take a look at our articles on Virtual and Augmented realities.
Many industries and organizations such as engineering, military, healthcare, education, business, and more use extended reality as a tool to boost their business performance. Recent statistics prove that AR and VR are here to stay:
- The estimated market revenue of the AR/VR industry is $160 billion by 2023;
- There are 171 million users of AR/VR per year worldwide;
- More than 30 million XR devices (like AR smart glasses & VR headsets) are expected to be sold per year by 2023;
- 70% of total AR/VR users believe that it will prove to be gainful for them.
The Potential for Augmented and Virtual Reality in Hospitality
The hospitality industry has been facing a crisis since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic as travels for business and leisure have declined dramatically. The key explanation behind the rise of augmented reality in the hospitality industry is that under the conditions of isolation extended reality technologies seem like a light at the end of the tunnel. AR serves as a tool to enhance the physical environment (for instance, the hotel and its rooms), or reproduce the experience of exploring the location.
One more reason for extended reality gaining momentum in hospitality is the amount of information guests expect to receive before they book the place. Augmented reality helps the hotel staff simplify the booking process by allowing the customer to experience an augmented model of the room. Once the guests arrive at the location, they can be provided with the needed information in a contactless manner at any convenient time.
Examples of How to Use AR and VR Within the Hospitality Industry
Let’s explore the reasons for VR becoming a promising tool for the hospitality industry.
Virtual Travel Experiences
Virtual Reality cannot replace the feels of a real vacation but it can provide a clear understanding of what you should expect. An opportunity to receive a sense of what an environment is like may be a crucial point for making a decision.
A valuable point for implementing VR is the emotional experience it brings to customers. A computer-generated world entertains them with realistic visuals and sounds that bring them to a different reality immediately. The joy of the VR experience is doubled by the opportunity to explore the travel destination before they purchase the tickets. Imagine testing out the Bahamas before you actually go there. Chances of a visit may grow by 100% immediately, right?
And last but not least, VR journeys can also provide a priceless opportunity to explore the world for people who are unable to travel. Disabled people have more possibilities to discover new locations than ever before.
Virtual Booking Process
Recently, one of the more interesting uses of VR technology has been the virtual reality booking processes. VR technology allows customers to search for destinations, compare hotels and other accommodations, and finally book rooms using a virtual reality headset.
Such booking process has not been spread among the industry yet. However, the companies that have already tested the VR booking process have a unique opportunity to let customers explore virtual hotel rooms, experience local sights, and book a room effortlessly instead of basic scrolling and clicking on a website.
Virtual Hotel and Room Tours
As the competition is immense, the hotels are looking for ways to stand out and surprise their guests. Many hotels use virtual reality hotel tours as an opportunity to showcase their hotel rooms via interactive elements. The tours can be placed on hotels’ websites and are a great way to show customers around the property before they book or before they arrive. Thus, clients are provided with a possibility to check out what their room interior is going to look like and make better decisions about which hotels are most suitable for them. Some hotels already use AR technology in conjunction with wall maps placed in their rooms. With the help of a smartphone camera, users can see additional information on hotel comfort as well as local benefits.
The tours are most impressive with the use of VR headsets. However, businesses can use 360 video technology as an alternative option.
Beacons are connected to the concept of AR. They are small, wireless transmitters that work through Bluetooth to send signals to other smart devices nearby. In a nutshell, they connect and pass on information to customers when they are in specific locations. Hence, the beacon technology is an irreplaceable tool for hotel marketers that has only started to prove its effectiveness.
Some hotels use the technology to send a virtual key to guests, allowing them to unlock their doors via their phones in a contactless manner. Others use beacons to help guests navigate around hotels.
Benefits & Use Cases AR/VR in Restaurant Business
Restaurants and other similar businesses are looking for creative opportunities to attract and engage customers in a socially-distant way. Augmented and Virtual Realities have come further into focus. For instance, AR interactivity gives restaurants and other businesses the possibility to deliver digital experiences in a personal way, without risking the health of their customers or employees.
AR Food Menu with 3D View
Like all businesses, restaurants are always looking for opportunities to make their customers’ experience more engaging. Some of them use AR to create hyper-realistic culinary models (that are, by the way, one of the most difficult products to reproduce in 3D) and bring them to life in menus. Thus, you can showcase the dishes in the most realistic way. AR-menu is not only an entertaining element for clients but also provides them with details like portion size, nutrition information, ingredients, allergens, and the number of people the dish can be served to.
Non Typical Advertising
What’s really capturing the attention of companies today is the possibility of standing out among the competitors. The restaurant business is no exception. AR advertising gives space for imagination when presenting traditional products. For example, use AR-filters for social media that show immersive virtual experiences with the restaurant’s dishes.
Another successful case is AR being used to present virtual renderings of custom meals, especially when it comes to special orders like wedding cakes. Virtual renderings allow customers to see what their custom orders will look like without coming into the business in person. This also reduces the cost for restaurants of presenting the test meal. AR-based catering menu can also be developed so that customers can experience the offerings without being able to smell or see the items themselves.
Standby Customer Experience
The idea behind experience marketing is to make customers experience the product from the moment they enter the front door. For instance, some restaurants provide customers with VR headsets so that visitors can enjoy the immersive view while being served the meals or drinks.
What’s more, you can provide your customers with an AR experience while they are waiting for their order which makes the waiting time more entertaining. At the same time, you can provide them with some useful (both for the client and the restaurant) information in the video form.
VR-based Training for Employees
As Augmented Reality moves forward, it brings with it lots of opportunities for every sector. For restaurants, it not only helps people get more new customers but also allows restaurants to train their employees. Virtual reality experience can help teach an employee new tools or allow remain productive while serving more customers visiting the restaurant.
For example, virtual reality can help restaurant cooks prepare more delicious and regional-based food. Moreover, waiters can learn the menu by heart without testing out the meals. Another point is the extended reality can help staff operate complex machines that they have never experienced before.
Smart Tek’s Experience in Implementing VR in HoReCa
We at Smart Tek have developed a training platform that enables HoReCa & Retail staff to train using virtual reality. The platform provides an opportunity for an endless amount of workers to gain new skills needed for their job without any time or cost investment from the company.
There is no restaurant business that has never faced the issue of quick and effective training of new employees. Newcomers need to learn everything about the business, ranging from the organizational style and culture to the recipes and ingredients as soon as possible. Virtual Reality is an appropriate solution for decreasing the cost and improving the speed and productiveness of workers’ education. VR is not only the last word in the industry but, more importantly, it provides employees with multiple advanced training opportunities.
A virtual world enables newcomers to control their own movement and gain new skills quickly and effectively. Our training platform includes a management system and large-scale analytics to keep an eye on the progress and assign training modules to workers.
Another valuable opportunity that can only be achieved with the help of extended reality is speeding up the franchise opening. Franchise owners have an opportunity to train their workers on virtual guidelines that reproduce the real functioning restaurant while the restaurant itself might be in the middle of preparation. By the moment the restaurant is ready to open its doors to first customers, the employees will already be trained in the virtual world that closely resembles reality. Hence, there is no gap in time used for personnel training between the end of organizational work and restaurant opening.
Virtual Reality technology is promising not only for employees training but also for franchise development and marketing, analytical opportunities, and accelerated employee hiring. Read more detailed information in our article on the VR training platform we developed.
How Can We Help
To know more about personalization possibilities and the unending advantages of AR and VR technologies, and the advancement of technology in the HoReCa industry, visit Smart Tek. We keep ourselves updated on the latest trends and happenings throughout the industry. Our teams of experienced professionals are ready to introduce cutting-edge technologies into your traditional processes.