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Hendrick’s expands its distillery, trams embrace artificial intelligence and the Australian potential for subscription models.

Belmond focuses on culinary tourism

The Art of Gastronomy, Belmond
The Art of Gastronomy, Belmond
The Art of Gastronomy, Belmond

Global – The luxury hospitality brand has launched The Art of Gastronomy, a series of guest experiences centred around local culinary traditions.

To select an experience, guests must firstly outline their reasons for travel, for example cultural enrichment, adventure, wellness or celebration. They are then offered experiences in accordance with their destination, such as truffle hunting in Tuscany, oyster harvesting in Maryland and Cachaça tasting in Brazil. Through such experiences, Belmond aims to help high-end travellers discover more about the provenance of their food.

The market for culinary travel is already booming, with the University of Florida reporting that 39 million US travellers choose their destination based on the eating and drinking experiences on offer. As consumers increasingly want to enrich their trips with rare gastronomy, Belmond is catering to the Experience-collectors.

Hendrick’s doubles its production with new gin distillery

Hendricks Gin Distillery Hendricks Gin Distillery
Hendricks Gin Distillery Hendricks Gin Distillery

Girvan, Scotland – The brand has opened its new Gin Palace, which not only houses three brand new stills, but an R&D lab for its master distiller Lesley Gracie.

Since launching as a uniquely Scottish gin in 1999, Hendrick's has been met with a swathe of competitors, from Scotland and fields afar, all showcasing unique botanicals and processes. With the distillery, William Grant & Sons, the brand's parent company, looks to ensure that it can meet demand for its gin, which has become a £1.5bn business in the UK (source: WSTA).

The Gin Palace is not only a working distillery but also a living embodiment of the brand, with quirky details such as a stained glass ceiling above the tallest still, as well as Victoriana decor throughout. Although it will not be open to the public in the foreseeable future, VIPs and tradespeople will be invited to visit in order to understand the process behind Hendrick's, meet Gracie and engage in innovation workshops that explore the many flavours of gin.

Gracie, who created the original distinct cucumber and rose-flavoured Hendrick's, now has at her disposal a brand new laboratory where she can experiment with distillates and new flavours, working towards the brand's next iteration. It was these experiments that resulted in Hendrick's second launch, Obrium, a quininated gin that launched on-trade last year.

For more on Gracie’s approach to gin, look out for our upcoming interview with her, where she ruminates on the future of gin and why Hendrick's is so much more than its marketing.

An autonomous tram powered by algorithms

Germany – Siemens Mobility has launched an autonomous tram that runs among traffic and urban zones in the city of Potsdam.

The driverless tram is equipped with lidar, radar and camera sensors that act as ‘digital eyes’ helping the tram to recognise and respond to oncoming traffic. It can also react autonomously to stop signs and hazards such as crossing pedestrians.

Siemens has developed a series of algorithms that allow the tram to interpret and evaluate data in the event of a collision, drawing a prognosis and triggering an automatic response in order to preserve lives. ‘By making trains and infrastructure intelligent, we can guarantee availability and enhance safety in local and long-distance travel,’ says Sabrina Soussan, CEO of Siemens Mobility.

For more on what the mobility systems of 2030 will look like, explore our Far Futures series.

Autonomous Tram, Siemens Mobility, Germany

Alibaba gives room service a robotic upgrade

Alibaba Space Egg
Alibaba Space Egg
Alibaba Space Egg

China – The e-commerce giant is entering the commercial robotics sector with the launch of its Space Egg.

This 3ft-high machine is designed to ferry items around hotels akin to a robot concierge, using cameras and lasers to navigate its way from hotel kitchens to guests’ rooms. It will start work at a hotel in the Chinese city of Hangzhou this month.

According to Alibaba, the robot will ‘bridge the gap between guest needs and the response time that they expect’. The e-commerce brand is working on future variations, such as a robot for delivering medicines in hospitals.

The Space Egg isn’t the first robot created to work in hospitality. AURA, a room service bot employed in the M Social Hotel in Singapore, was one of a number of devices featured in our article exploring the use of robots in the travel experience.

Stat: Subscription models drive business growth in Australia

According to PayPal Australia, m-commerce is booming on the continent, with three quarters of Australians shopping on their mobile phones. Furthermore, with subscription models increasingly popular among younger shoppers, these ‘set and forget’ services are paying off for businesses – 86% of businesses reported increases in revenue after implementing these models.

However, there is still an opportunity for brands looking to maintain a recurring revenue stream, as only one in 10 Australian businesses currently offer subscriptions.

Opting for a subscription pricing model can significantly drive revenue. For more ways to diversify pricing strategies, read our dedicated Market.

Thought-starter: How is mobility transforming grocery delivery?

Foresight writer Peter Maxwell explores the autonomous vehicles that will simplify the most complex part of grocery supply chain management – the last mile.

The self-driving car start-up AutoX is taking a more pragmatic approach than many of its competitors to the challenge of automating delivery, eschewing the development of bespoke mobile retail units in favour of bringing the concept straight to market. By retrofitting standard saloon cars as roving convenience stores, AutoX has become one of the first to pilot such an offer.

Elsewhere, Robomart, part of NVIDIA's AI Inception Programme, is an autonomous retail system designed to create a type of distributed supermarket, with several vehicles working in tandem to offer customers the same breadth of product range that they might find at their local big-box retailer. Founder Ali Ahmed says he’s talked to wholesalers about equipping separate trucks to mimic different sections of a grocery aisle – from dairy and poultry, to meat and vegetables.

Discover the other automotive brands transforming the delivery market here.

Kroger and Nuro
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