Enhancing the guest environment

Enhancing the guest environment

Enhancing the guest environment

When it comes to providing an outstanding guest experience, perfecting the energy and ambiance of your establishment is key. We often hear people talking about the 'vibe' of a restaurant or hotel - getting the atmosphere right is just as important as delivering incredible food and service when it comes to creating a lasting positive memory for your guests.

It's well known that eating and drinking are multisensory experiences, with the appearance, smell and texture of your food able to override what your taste buds are telling you. As such, it's no wonder that hospitality operators are experimenting with creating extreme immersive environments for their guests, in order to shape their experience.

For example, Heston Blumenthal's Fat Duck serves a "Sound of the Sea" dish; an array of seafood served alongside an iPod in a conch shell, which plays the sound of breaking waves on the seashore. The idea is to evoke a feeling of nostalgia in the guest, transporting them back to a childhood day on the beach... no easy feat for a restaurant located in Berkshire.

It's not entirely separate from scent marketing, a common device employed by, for example, hotel operators, as well as retailers. The sense of smell is the only sense directly connected to the limbic system: the part of the brain that processes memories and emotions. Scent marketing can be used to trigger particular feelings (lavender with relaxation, for example), or to create a subconscious link between the scent and the business, bringing it to the forefront of the guest's mind whenever they encounter the scent again. It's rare that restaurants need to invest in scent marketing; the aromas from your kitchens and food should do the same job all by themselves.

Bobby Chin's House of Ho, however, tried alternate means to affect the diner's thoughts and emotions while eating. Chin concealed subliminal messages in the décor on the walls of his restaurant, designed to delicately enhance the guest experience.

Sublimotion became, in 2015, the world's most expensive restaurant through its wildly immersive, futuristic guest experience. 360 degree projections, light installations, vibrations, changing temperatures and humidity all come together to create a restaurant with a unique and inimitable environment.

At the other end of the spectrum, dining in the dark restaurant Dans le Noir deprives guests of their sight in order to enhance their other senses, leaving a guests to judge their environment on little more than their taste buds.

For most operators, such extremes aren't a practical way to impact the ambiance of their premises. Despite this, most restaurants will still see some of the principles behind immersive environment dining in their own businesses.

For example, an iPod for every guest may be beyond the budget for most operators, but you don't need three Michelin stars to understand the value of considering the sounds associated with your restaurant; whether lively Caribbean music or quiet classical songs suit your brand vision best, it's an easy way to add to the ambiance. Bobby Chin's experiment emphasises how much a guest can be unconsciously affected by their surroundings, for better or worse. Sublimotion reminds us that the guest experience goes beyond the taste of the dish; the presentation, décor and service all form a valuable part of dining. And of course, Dans le Noir reminds us that the restaurant environment is at its best when it adds to, rather than distracts from, the food and service you offer.

Photo Credit: Charles Haynes http://www.flickr.com/photos/haynes/2755834219/in/photostream/

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