Most parents will admit that it’s the kids who dictate their family dining decisions, so the business of finding new ways to entertain and engage these youngest patrons is a serious one.

Colouring booklets, playgrounds and discounted kids menus are the usual fare, but there’s a new tech-driven, home-grown offering on the market and the Laundy Hotels group, which operates more than 20 venues across NSW, has been quick to jump on board.

The group has launched an augmented reality (AR) family entertainment app called Grub Lab to keep its youngest patrons happy so far at 11 of its venues.

Grub Lab is an interactive children’s activity pack and app that brings colouring-in and collectible cards to life. It was developed in NSW’s Hunter Valley and has been designed specifically for pubs, restaurants, clubs, hotels and motels.

Laundy’s executive chef Jamie Gannon says the group is constantly looking for ways to offer unique and fun experiences for kids at its venues, so Grub Lab was an easy decision.

“Happy kids equal happy families. And if they have a great experience, we’ll see more returning customers as well,” Gannon says.

Using the mobile app and activity pack, kids can colour-in virtually in 3D, they can see footy-style collectible cards come to life, and can interact with the characters.

It’s the first application of AR technology in Australia’s hospitality industry, according to its creator, Hunter Valley start-up The Village Co, which focuses its tech innovations on this sector. Grub Lab was developed in partnership with global food brand, Simplot Foodservice, and is the first in a series of AR products being developed, with another soon-to-be-launched offering focusing on NRL.

“While normal colouring-in offers four to five minutes of entertainment, our product offers 45 mins, and that means a couple of beers and dessert for parents,” says The Village Co CEO and founder Mick Carr.

Want to keep reading? Check out the rest of the feature below in the August issue of Australian Hotelier.

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