Is virtual reality the future of hospitality?

Is virtual reality the future of hospitality?

Is virtual reality the future of hospitality?

With virtual reality already making waves in the worlds of gaming, events and even training, it won't be long before we see the technology being used to add a new dimension to the hospitality industry. According to a recent speech by Jamie Jones, group bar executive at Jason Atherton's The Social Company, this future could be close.

"It won't be long before VR is a part of cocktail making," Jones commented, speaking at the recent Imbibe Live trade show. Jones announced that virtual technology would play a key role in a new concept he was working on, due to be launched by the restaurant group in 2017. He suggested the industry prepare for the introduction of virtual reality headsets to the UK bar scene - technology that could transport consumers to another environment, with 'smells and aromas' included.

A recent article by Big Hospitality suggested that virtual reality could transform the dining experience. Research conducted in 2013 revealed that specific visual images had been found to affect the taste of whisky. Subjects perceived heightened flavours in the drink, such as 'sweet' or 'woody', after being shown short films designed to emphasise those specific tastes.

Operators would potentially be able to use virtual reality to create a more immersive environment for their guests. The article also cited recent successful experimentation with virtual reality technology by the hospitality industry. One such effort was that of Benji Purslow at Keystone Crescent member's club in London where guests could sample cocktails whilst being transported to a villa in Tuscany, surrounded by fig trees with the gentle notes of birdsong filling the air.

The larger chains are also looking to get in on the action - TGI Friday's became the first UK restaurant to offer a virtual reality experience to its guests during the festive season at the end of last year. Customers enjoying their Christmas meal could don a headset where they were able to take control of a Lapland dog sled team.

Just a few years ago, a study conducted by the F&B industry chair of the Ecole Hoteliere de Lausanne, Switzerland, predicted that by 2025 we could expect to see a rise in augmented reality restaurants. It certainly looks like we're moving in that direction.

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