New app enables virtual visits to restaurants

Restaurant owners looking for an edge in a crowded market and hungry diners that would like more, or better detailed information about eateries now have a virtual reality option.

Recently, YouVisit launched YouVisit Restaurants as a free app for the Samsung Gear VR headset. The app allows anyone with a Samsung Gear VR to easily browse and discover restaurants in immersive virtual reality.

Currently, the app features hundreds of New York City restaurants; however, YouVisit plans to expand into other areas. Some of the more well-known locations include Delmonico’s, Sarabeth’s, and Tavern on The Green.

(Image courtesy YouVisit.)
(Image courtesy YouVisit.)

Benefits to restaurant owners

YouVisit Restaurants is a major development for restaurant owners looking for ways to distinguish themselves in a competitive market. By partnering with YouVisit, restaurants can capture their location (including event space) in immersive virtual reality, and get a jump on a fast-growing technology that is expected to grow into a $60 billion marketing by 2025.

Steven Gallo, owner of Galli Restaurant, said that virtual reality is a game changer.

Steven Gallo
Steven Gallo

“I cannot wait to see the first picture on Instagram with one of our customers sitting at home, eating chicken parm sliders while wearing their Samsung headset to feel like they are sitting at the corner table on Ludlow and Rivington Streets on a beautiful spring day,” he said. “That would be classic.”

One of the major benefits of a restaurant virtual reality experience is that it highlights a location’s atmosphere more accurately than through reviews and regular photography. This is particularly important because a “good atmosphere” is a significant factor for why customers select a location.

Benefits to hungry diners

For diners, YouVisit Restaurants is a research tool, enabling them to easily experience a location without having to visit in person. When coupled with a popular online review site like Yelp or Zagat, diners can easily winnow a long list of potential restaurants down to the perfect location, whether for a date night or large gathering.

“This app is like reverse teleportation,” said Suzanne Sanders, YouVisit’s director of marketing. “Diners can bring hundreds of restaurants to exactly where they are, no matter where that is. It’s a powerful way to experience a location without having to spend time or money beforehand.”

Kevin Mullen, a Brooklyn product designer, said viewing restaurants in virtual reality would help him make faster decisions when he decides to dine out.

“I’m never sure if the pictures I see on Yelp are right,” Mullen said. “Sometimes I’ll go to a place, and it’s not what I thought it would be. With [virtual reality] I think I’d get a better idea of what a restaurant is really like.”

For those without a Gear VR, the restaurant virtual reality experiences are also available on iOS and Android through YouVisit VR, which works in conjunction with a Google Cardboard or Zeiss VR One. Additionally, diners can explore the same restaurants through a unique browser experience on YouVisit’s website.

Abi Mandelbaum

Abi Mandelbaum is co-founder and CEO of YouVisit, the only fully integrated platform for creating, distributing, and monetizing virtual reality and other immersive experiences across all devices, including headsets, mobile, and desktop. YouVisit has worked with thousands of businesses and institutions such as Hewlett Packard, Microsoft, Carnival, Yale, Zumba, and New York’s Central Park.

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