It’s been estimated that the market revenue of the AR/VR industry will reach $209 billion by 2022. The evolution of VR has transformed several industries, one of which is the food and restaurant industry.
The restaurant industry has been in crisis mode since the pandemic forced many restaurants to close their doors, sometimes permanently. While the future is uncertain for many restaurants, when times of quarantine are behind us, I believe VR will be further integrated into the food industry to change how restaurants function.
Choosing your entree is one thing, but there are many other reasons why customers visit a restaurant, from the decor to the service. That’s where VR can help.
Train your employees.
When it comes to providing exemplary service, you need employees who are trained to cater to the needs of your customers. Training employees can be time-consuming because you’ll need to spend resources creating a training program. This program often requires sacrificing the time of your other employees to train them in the manners, techniques and etiquette that are required for working in a reputable restaurant.
While it’s a bigger upfront cost, VR can help you train new employees without a recurring investment. As one example, VR can help guide employees on how to use new appliances in the kitchen, how the machines work and any steps needed to operate the machines safely.
Advertise your restaurant.
Consider using VR to offer a virtual tour of your restaurant and give a sneak peek at your kitchen, seating area and other parts of the restaurant. Show customers that your restaurant isn’t just a restaurant, but rather a place where they can have an experience worth remembering. Keep in mind that people want great experiences, not just delicious food.
You can also demonstrate the safety measures your chefs take in the kitchen while cooking, which I predict will be especially important to reassure consumers after the pandemic.
Make waiting fun with AR- and VR-based games.
Let’s face it: Waiting is the worst thing about visiting a restaurant. Sometimes excess wait times can even cause customers to never return. But what if you make the waiting time fun? Imagine if you could put a VR headset on every table programmed with VR-based games that take your customers to a different universe where the waiting time won’t seem like a waste of time.
In my experience, it’s still rare in the restaurant industry to offer customers VR headsets to enjoy during their visits, so this could be an opportunity to stand out. If you don’t have a considerable budget, though, a less expensive option would be to take the AR route and get an app developed that will allow you to deliver an AR gaming experience to your customers. (Think Pokémon GO.)
Demonstrate your menu offerings.
If you’ve applied VR technology as an offering at every table, this can be an opportunity for a fun experience: Show how a dish is made and provide the details about where each and every ingredient came from and how it is used while preparing the dish. Customers can simply choose the dish and be taken through the preparation of what they are about to eat.
Make VR your USP.
If you’re a restaurant owner, ask yourself why someone would visit your restaurant and not another. Yes, you serve delicious food, but that isn’t solely going to attract everyone each time they think about eating out. You need to show how you are a better choice than any other restaurant.
If you’re offering VR technology in your restaurant, you can market your brand by showing the VR as your unique selling point (USP). When you show people that they can have both great food and an amazing experience, you give them a reason to visit you rather than other restaurants.
What does the future hold for the restaurant industry?
We’re living in 2020, and we use various forms of technology multiple times in our day-to-day lives. Things have changed drastically due to the pandemic, and in many cases, people have become more reliant on technology to help them feel connected and stay safe, and VR may be an opportunity to promote safety and memorable experiences as the restaurant industry redefines its future in the wake of Covid-19.
As VR is still in its nascent stages, it will likely be prohibitively expensive for many businesses, especially those recovering from the impact of the pandemic. Nevertheless, business leaders can assess the investment and determine if it will lead to a higher ROI in the long run. So buckle up, plan your strategy and be ready to take your restaurant business to the next level.