Engage customers with interactive augmented reality

AR_images-03Kaan Aydogmus, founder of multi-disciplinary design agency and augmented reality specialists Magnetic London, explains how augmented reality can be used in the hospitality sector to engage customers with added value.

It’s hard to imagine how a steak could ‘come to life’ on a plate, but I assure you it is within the realms of possibility. Interactive dining experiences are not merely flavour of the month – technology and food go hand in hand.

So how does it work? Put simply, augmented reality (AR) bridges the gap between print and digital content via a smartphone app, which brings static text or images ‘to life’. What this means is that printed material hosts hidden layers of digital material, like exclusive video interviews with a head chef or sommelier.Thanks to augmented reality, pub and restaurant owners now have the chance to engage their customers by transforming traditional printed material like menus and wine lists into something far more exciting, adding real value to customer service provisions and by creating memorable and bespoke eating and drinking experiences.

Scan the menu in a restaurant or pub and up pops a video of a customer’s dish being prepared, or a recipe of how to recreate their dessert with a list of ingredients they can save to their smartphone. Similarly, a customer visiting from overseas could scan a menu to find versions translated into a range of languages.

With the rise of health-conscious diets and food fads, catering to customers’ complicated preferences can be a challenge. But via a smartphone, diners could view a dynamic layout of nutritional information and ingredient origins, allowing them to make informed selections from the menu. 3D images and videos are particularly well suited to showing customers that their food has been ethically sourced, with the option to show clips of sustainable farming and local production.

The majority of us – sommeliers excluded – would appreciate help when choosing a wine that best complements our food choices. Pointing a mobile phone camera at a menu could pull up recommended wine or beer pairings.

AR could keep children engaged during mealtimes, with the ‘gamification’ of menus

Parents could see their dining experience revolutionised by augmented reality. The distant dream of a stress-free meal will soon be a reality – tantrums will be a thing of the past and chicken nuggets will no longer fly through the air. AR could keep children engaged during mealtimes, with the ‘gamification’ of menus, which would reveal layers of digital entertainment in the form of games, interactive activities and videos.

AR_images-02Big sporting events are routinely occasions on which customers flock to pubs, so beer mats and placemats, for example, could become a multifunctional tool both for increasing revenue and improving customer experience. Augmented reality beer mats could be scanned to view the highlights of the season, and promotional offers for the bar to draw more punters in.

The possibilities are pretty much limitless. Pubs that offer accommodation will be able to showcase their rooms with scannable brochures, delivering a real-time virtual tour that allows customers an immersive exploration of the rooms before they choose and book.

In tech terms, augmented reality is relatively old news. The world’s most successful augmented reality app, Layar, has been downloaded 40 million times, but AR has yet to be widely used in the pub and restaurant world. Big brands are beginning to capitalise on the opportunity to offer a more interactive and engaging customer experience – Wetherspoons and Wagamama have been trialing AR innovations for some time – but industry-wide it’s still mostly in its experimental infancy.

But the multiple uses for this integrated technology are becoming clearer. There are considerable rewards to reap from pulling the pub and restaurant world into the digital age – it’s an obvious step forward when it comes to enhancing customer experience and energising your market offering.


Author: The Host

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