Experiential Dining underwater

Although the term has been in use for a few years, it seems that experiential dining is finally here to stay. If the recent pandemic made us so accustomed to food delivery that, at some point, a meal did not seem to be an incentive to leave the house anymore, a unique and memorable experience that goes beyond a mere dinner is what we are all craving right now.

Already on the rise by the end of last year – with 263% increase of searches for “underwater restaurants” and 109% increase of searches for “dinner theaters” – the experiential dining trend is getting stronger by the day. 

At the moment, there is already such an array of different experiences available that is somehow hard to describe in a clear way what experiential dining is actually about. If we start from the main concept of offering to customers a unique experience, we may say that sometimes it’s all about the environment (like dining in the dark, under water or in outdoor settings), sometimes it’s about the entertainment (like performing artists or musicians playing by your table). 

What is really interesting to notice, as this sometimes-confusing trend rapidly unravels, is the role of food: once the main actor in every restaurant worth its name, now a co-star in a bigger production. Yet, the attention paid to customers and the level of enjoyment that they are meant to experience wave goodbye to bland flavors and approximate presentation: food is an essential part of a multi-sensory experience that is going to be remembered and talked about for a long time because all the other elements are there to enhance the deliciousness on the plate. 

If creativity and innovation have always been two major allies of the hospitality industry, now an additional help comes from technology. Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) are being used to create immersive dining experiences and virtual menus, allowing customers to visualize their orders and see how dishes are being prepared. Embracing technology helps to stay competitive, enhance the dining experience and streamline operations; at the same time, it attracts those customers who are by definition less keen on keeping their attention alive for a long time and socializing in a traditional way.

In their early thirties by now, Generation Z are the next wave of restaurant customers. As they grow older, their salaries rise and so does their need to keep trying something new. Unique dining experiences are the perfect recipe to build loyalty among them and secure a future to experiential dining.

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