“At the door, guests not only turn in their cell phones, they also give up their inhibitions.” What is that supposed to mean? Although this may sound like something out of a Hollywood movie, it actually describes the winning project in a competition for up-and-coming talent on the topic Restaurant of the Future. Lucullus Palace is the name of the winner of the 8th annual Gastronomie 4.0 competition, which is organized by the trade journal “Gastronomy Report”. The project won over the jury with its deliberate provocation.
It’s doubtful that guests will really someday swim through a lake of White Russian cocktails. However, the concept does make one thing clear: it’s all about emotion and the experience. This is not quite a new concept – we’ve heard of dining in the dark or murder mystery dinners before. In fact, the book “The Experience Economy” came out in 1999! Still, these new ideas for the future incorporate emotion in a much more significant way; in fact, it has become a key requirement. In Switzerland, the restaurant Elysium opened this fall, which is the digital classroom of the EHL Swiss School of Tourism and Hospitality. In this digital restaurant, students learn to conjure up emotions with visual, olfactory and haptic stimuli to enhance the experience of gourmet cuisine. KTCHNrebel talked to the director Michael Hartmann about affective hospitality.
The affective hospitality concept focuses on the individual emotions of the guests. These days, it seems as if no restaurant or hotel would ever open without having as elaborate and specific a concept as possible. Do you think we’ll someday hit the peak with this?
I don’t think the end is in sight yet. However, concepts that are not skillfully executed, which are often based on system gastronomy, seriously detract from any of the truly good stories out there. These concepts attempt to manipulate using marketing techniques rather than providing an authentic experience. In this case, the wheat will separate from the chaff.
It is often predicted that we will shift from a service-oriented to an emotionally-oriented society. When do you expect this to occur?
In principle, it is fair to say that trends within industries evolve – or rather take on distinctive characteristics – in different ways. As a result, the hotel and gastronomy industry was not hit by the early digital revolution, which swept through many other industries. Instead, it uses digitization to optimize processes and create multisensory effects. Such impulses are in line with the trend to evoke holistic emotions. These types of emotions will be remembered and keep the guests coming back. But in this respect we are only at the beginning!
With the Elysium as a prototype, do you think such restaurants will one day become upmarket mainstream?
With our Elysium, which serves as a digital classroom for our students so to speak, we want to create a kind of blue print for possible future gastronomic concepts. The forms may vary, but multi-sensory storytelling in a stage-like environment will certainly be the future.
For 50 years, m 5(SSTH) has been training specialists and managers for the hotel and gastronomy industry. It offers everything from basic and higher vocational training (Dipl. FH degree) to bachelor degrees. Emotional skills are taught alongside traditional service skills. Students are trained as stage directors, and SSTH graduates are able to effectively blend empathy and efficiency.