At 2019 BCB there was a theme for talks on Main Stage dividing the speakers into two groups – Legends and Visionaries. The Legends shared their past experiences and what they had learned in their stories careers while the Visionaries looked forward and talked about how radical ways of thinking had bough them success and perhaps what the future would be.
Today more than ever the words and ideas of the Visionaries need to be considered as our industry struggles with business changing restrictions and possible fundamental shifts in consumer behaviors. With home cocktail delivery, Virtual Happy Hours and online tastings we are seeing pivoting and dislocation of traditional thinking and revenue and an evolution of our industry as we embrace new ideas.
Which is precisely what Victoria Chow discussed in her talk “Drink to the Future” at BCB 2019. With her talk including such ideas as Robotic Bartenders, Virtual Distillery visits and Artificial Intelligence designing cocktails which may all have seemed a bit ridiculous but as she states eloquently “technology doesn’t work… until it does” and that so much of what we take for granted today (such as online shopping for example) was radical a few years back. And while Siri and other voice tech may seem annoyingly inefficient to us it is just toddler now and as it grows to be a teenager and then adulthood the benefits it brings will be incalculable.
Blockchain and QR codes on menus to provide Millennials with the backstory for their brands and drinks; data collection and facial recognition to help reduces queues in bars and personalize the guest experience in ways that only those storied bartenders with even great memories could only dream of; Virtual bar experiences similar to the online community of Fortnite and other platforms. Future thinking Victoria showed how technology has the potential to impact bar owner, manager, bartender, brand owner and most importantly consumer in truly radical ways.
9 months ago this may all have seemed pie in the sky thinking. In todays word and while thinking of the New Normal moving forward this talk is scarily accurate and thought provoking for all.