The future of restaurants: Navneet Kalra discusses how VR can transform hospitality

Technology has been an enabler for a great many industries, and the hospitality sector is no different. The positive impact of tech on hospitality businesses was especially felt when the pandemic struck, and there has been no looking back ever since. With cutting-edge concepts such as virtual reality (VR) transforming everything they touch, a brighter future for hospitality businesses also lies ahead.

We talked to prominent Delhi restaurateur and Khan Chacha owner Navneet Kalra to discuss the implications of VR in restaurant businesses. According to him, before exploring the practical usage of VR, it is always important to understand what it really is and how it functions. “Without knowing the technology, one just cannot forecast whether or not it will work for any sector, be it hospitality or anything else,” says Kalra.

The in and out of virtual reality (VR)

Virtual reality is a new age tech concept that relies on images, sounds and physical sensations to provide the users with an immersive experience that makes them feel a part of the scene. The technology makes use of VR headsets to enable users to look around and experience things the way they might look and feel in the real world. VR is gradually becoming popular across sectors and has recently found its way into hospitality as well.

VR and hospitality

According to Khan Chacha owner Navneet Kalra, VR’s foray into hospitality has begun gaining ground during the pandemic times. “In its early stages VR remained limited to entertainment-based applications. However, that has changed now. Especially when it comes to hospitality sector, VR holds great promise. It can be used as a great marketing tool by helping deliver useful information to potential customers,” says Navneet Kalra.

He adds, “People usually wish to know everything that they can before making reservations at any restaurant. They wish to move beyond reading the lengthy descriptions which might not be reliable. At this juncture, VR can be of great use by providing customers with a chance to experience the physical attributes of a restaurant by themselves. This takes the concept of ‘try before you buy’ to a whole new level.”

Uses of VR in restaurant business

VR can be used extensively in the restaurant business. From attracting potential customers to assisting them through booking, VR can be employed in multiple scenarios. Khan Chacha owner Navneet Kalra elaborates some of these applications:

  1. Virtual Tours

One of the most common applications of virtual reality in restaurant businesses is offering a virtual tour of your establishment to prospective visitors. Guests and potential guests can take a look into the ambience, seating, live events and more before they make a reservation or before they visit. “One might need a VR headset to get the experience, but alternative methods like 360 degree videos can be employed as well,” says Navneet Kalra.

  1. Virtual Booking

This one is a non-traditional way in which VR technology can be used by restaurants. People can explore different restaurant options, compare prices and make reservations through a VR headset. “Virtual booking using VR has not reached its full potential yet. Businesses are still exploring its application. However, we have something to get started with – something that’s new and unique,” says Navneet Kalra.

  1. Virtual Travel

You have explored all about a place and made the bookings, but what about your journey to and fro? Virtual travel using VR works on that very aspect. Virtual travel gives guests a 360 degree experience of the commute along with some key insights. This is especially helpful in case of guests who come from different cities and/or countries.