The VR Hotel

Automatic Summary

Transforming Hospitality Training with Virtual Reality: An Insight into VRHTI

Hello there! Today we're going to discuss a groundbreaking initiative created by Tracy Cosgrove, the founder of VRHTI (Virtual Reality Hospitality Training International). On an exciting journey traversing the viral virtual realms of innovation, we follow Tracy's visionary quest to revolutionize how hospitality education is delivered, particularly in the emerging hotspot of Myanmar.

A Blazing Beginning: Passport to Success Myanmar

The story begins over 20 years ago in Myanmar (Burma). At the time, it was extremely hard for ordinary people to get passports, hence hindering much-needed progress in learning and education. This prompted Tracy to establish Passport to Success Myanmar, a company through which she created passports for locals, creating pathways for them to elevate their knowledge and skills.

Tracy's venture trained over 3,500 people, who have held onto their passports as they've grown and navigated their way across varying jobs. This unprecedented initiative cultivated a robust foundation for further development in the country's hospitality industry.

Adapting to Changing Circumstances

As Myanmar started opening up, foreign NGOs flooded in, heavily investing in the education sector. Tracy stepped back, recognizing the need to transform and adapt her organization's direction.

During this period, the hospitality market was gradually escalating, with the relatively small industry growing from hosting eight hotels to nearly 300 over the years. As such, a trained workforce was crucial to keep up with the burgeoning tourism sector.

However, with the military takeover and the ongoing pandemic, progressing with conventional training became a challenge. But Tracy's determination to keep the wheels of training running smoothly didn't waver. Instead, it gave birth to the establishment of VRHTI.

The Introduction of VRHTI

VRHTI's primary goal is inspired by a noble ethos – reducing poverty. The organization aims to make a significant difference and effect change, starting from the grassroots. Initially, the firm took the traditional route with face-to-face training; however, as global events started taking unforeseen turns, Tracy saw the necessity for a revolutionary change.

A chance encounter with a VR headset in a hotel lobby in India made Tracy realize the potential of virtual reality for mass training. She thus invested in a VR headset and a 360 camera, diving headfirst into creating virtual reality training modules.

The Maiden Journey with Virtual Reality

Navigating an unfamiliar world of technology was an uphill task, but Tracy turned to her reliable ally – YouTube. She trained herself in VR and soon developed her VR training system. At present, VRHTI offers mobile apps and multi-platform support to make training feasible for employees anytime, anywhere.

Creating the VR Hotel

Inspired by the limitless potential of VR, Tracy's latest venture is creating a fully immersive 3D VR Hotel to facilitate real-time, all-inclusive hospitality training. The virtual hotel has movable 3D assets that simulate diverse scenarios, and it's expected to be open 24/7, ensuring training accessibility across different time zones and geographical boundaries.

With a VR headset, trainees can experience being either a customer or an associate, giving them in-depth insights into both service aspects of the hospitality industry. This approach to training using VR is fundamental to bridging the gap between theoretical knowledge and practical experience.

Unlocking the Future

In just under two years, Tracy has not only transformed VRHTI into a game-changing virtual reality training hub but has also been recognized as the Women in AI ambassador for Virtual Reality in Asia Pacific. Her focus remains steadfast on making quality training affordable and accessible to millions across the globe.

Join the VR Revolution

Tracy invites everyone interested in learning more about VRHTI and its initiatives to connect with her on LinkedIn. This groundbreaking use of technology in the hospitality industry is just the beginning for Tracy. Who knows what new peaks of innovation she'll reach next? Stay tuned!

Video Transcription

So my name is Tracy Cosgrove and I'm the founder of Vrht I, which is a virtual reality hospitality training. Normally, I'm working in Myanmar, which is Burma. Uh At the moment, I'm in the Netherlands due to COVID and everything else that's going on in the world.Um So I'm in the sunny Netherlands where we, where we have a home. So this is nice to be beaming to you from the Netherlands and especially as Myanmar at the moment is in rainy season. And my son called this morning and said he'd had no electricity for 12 hours. So I should feel myself quite lucky. So um viht I is a start up which is for hospitality training in using virtual reality in the hospitality industry. It started off. Um My, my company was passport to success, Myanmar. And the reason I started passport to success, Myanmar was due to the fact that 20 years ago, it was extremely hard to get passports and I wanted to promote learning and education as much as I could. So I started a company passport to success, Myanmar. And even though people were not able to get passports, I created a passport for them. And this became a really valuable passport um because it meant that they could then become part of the trainers. So we had, I've actually trained over 3.5 1000 people and each one has carried their passport for many years and over over lots of jobs as well. So passport to success started. And this picture here was actually one of the last schools that I built in Myanmar.

The reason I stopped building the schools and going more on to the uh transformational change was that the country had started to open up. And as the country was opening up, all of a sudden, there was hundreds and thousands of NGO s coming in with lots of cash, putting it into the education side of things. So I was then able to step back and say, OK, I'm gonna let you get, let you carry on. So passport to success, as I mentioned, we've got, we've trained over 3.5 1000 people within the hospitality industry. This was a time in Myanmar when the hospitality industry consisted of eight hotels. But I could see that eventually we would be needing more and more people trained. So the tourism in Myanmar in 2003, when I first started, the population was around 54 million and just to buy a SIM card was £3000. You know, we're we're talking between $3000 3000 pounds. It was actually going up to $5000 at some stages and you had to wait 18 months to be allowed to get a SIM card. So with the change coming of the internet finally started to come and we were able to get more and more people using mobile data.

However, may maybe some of you know that from the first of February, the military took over in Myanmar. And so things have actually started going back downhill again. Sadly, um and mobile data was cut off and it's only just recently come back, but you can't get all of the services still VIHT I which is virtual reality hospitality training international. The main uh goal is for no poverty. So throughout everything that I've done for in Myanmar for the last 20 years, it's always been how we can make a difference and how we can change. So I started off with face to face training and the main problem was as more tourists were coming, all of a sudden, we went from around eight hotels to nearly 300 hotels when the country started to open. And as you can imagine, the workforce wasn't prepared for this. So what happened was I ended up with too much, too much work. And I really love what I'm doing and I love inspiring the the younger generation uh with their soft skills and just the passion that I received from them is is infectious. And I started to think how can I increase? You know, I had hotels which were waiting a year for me to be able to come and train their, their staff. And this for me just wasn't good enough.

So I started to think how can I develop something where I can reach more and more of the associates quicker. And two years ago, um I was invited to Mumbai to pick up an award and I was also um doing some work for a hotel in India. And whilst I was in the reception of the hotel waiting for the staff to come, this man spoke to me and he said, oh, you're English. Can you please try this VR system? I'd never, you know, I'm a mother, my, my Children are 3031. I'd never even used their game, their game boys and for, for him to ask me to put on a VR headset, of course, I said yes. But then I was like, oh my gosh, what is this? You know, I didn't have a clue what I was doing. So I put the headset on and all of a sudden I went beyond what I was looking at and I started to think this is the solution. This is how I can enable the progression of the hospitality industry in Myanmar and able to train more and more people quicker quicker instead of them having to wait a year. So this chance encounter of me, checking out this VR system then started my brain going, remembering, I didn't have a clue even what VR was. I wasn't the most technical person, but I knew that I wanted to do something with this system.

So after two weeks in India, I flew back to Myanmar and on the way back, I went to Bangkok, I bought myself a VR headset and a 360 camera. I arrived in, back in Yangon and said to my son, I'm going to be starting to do virtual reality training and to which my son thought this was hilarious. And he was like, yeah, right, mum, OK, undeterred. I googled, I checked out, I started walking around the streets in Yangon and literally was filming anything and everybody uh it was a funny sight and uh really if you saw the pictures, you would, I know you would be laughing. So there we are. Now, I've got a VR headset. I've got my 360 camera. Nobody knew what to do. Nobody could help me. So I started thinking, ok, well, I need to do this. Thankfully, there's youtube. So youtube became my best friend and it became my best friend. And all of a sudden I started to realize, well, I can actually do this and yes, this is a fantastic system. So the VR training started, we now have um the mobile app where we can, the trainees are able to come into the system and take a look. It can be used on the tablet. It can be used on your mobile phone. It can be used on your computer. There are lots of, um, lots of different ways that we can do it.

Um, then all of a sudden this whole new world had opened up to me and then I was invited to speak last year about the virtual reality training. Um, and I, I was an avatar. If you told me two years ago, I would be working daily as either an avatar on virtual reality. I would have laughed at you. You know, I just really didn't think that this was, was me. Now, I have my offices in Vella. We have over 100 students every day who come into Vella and they do the hospitality training. We're working in India, Myanmar and Thailand. We also are using um the system in frame. So we also have sessions uh using webex R. So we, the hotel at the moment is being built in Web Xr where we have a full hotel being translated into 3D, which will include every department. And we expect that the hotel is going to be open 24 hours a day for training. We also are working within alt space. Um And this particular picture here is one of the hotels where we're do. We were doing the 360 filming the soft skills training. As I mentioned, it was extremely hard in Myanmar for to be able to get the associates that we needed for the hotels. So what was happening as one hotel was opening, the next hotel would come along and poach the staff.

So there was a never ending problem in the fact that within one year, maybe one employee had been poached four times. Well, in the end, they actually weren't trained but because they'd kept bettering themselves the whole time for, for the look of themselves. Um, they still didn't have the skills that they were being paid for. But due to the fact there was not enough people, it, there, there was no other option. Um So what we were doing with the VR training, so they, we have several options of working. Um, they can either practice to be the customer or they can be the associate. It's quite amazing when you see them standing in the shoes of the customer and all of a sudden they realize, oh, actually, maybe I shouldn't have said that or I would have liked to have done that differently. Now, due to the fact that we can also do it on the mobile phone, they can do the training on the way to work. They can do the training from wherever they are. This has become very, very valuable at the moment with COVID. Uh because in Myanmar, many of the hotels have had to close and their trainees have gone back to the villages which could be, you know, six hours, 12 hours away.

You can imagine if they'd left their village and come into Yangon or to Napoli or began to one of the locations and then all of a sudden they have to go home. It's, it's so for me, this was the one of the most upsetting things when all of a sudden, over a million employees had to start going home. So I wanted to be a them to be able to feel that they were still part of something. So I offered free training. As I mentioned at the beginning, my number one goal is to reduce poverty. And if it meant that I was working for free, I didn't care. I just wanted to make sure that if these youngsters because many of them were only 1819, if they had come to Yangon and left their families, the least we could do if we'd sent them home because there was no w work was to allow them to learn. So this is where the VR Hotel started to come into operation. So we we've been filming in 360 when they stand in the shoes of the guest. This is often where sometimes the tears will come um come down their face when they realize, oh, I wish I, you know, I really wish I'd done that differently.

Um The hotel which I'm building is now in the stage where we should be ready in the next two months. So the hotel is being built on a full platform will be open 365 days a year. All the 3D assets are movable. So it means that people can come in from, from India, from Japan, from Thailand, from Myanmar. All work together and housekeeping can have the same standards. Wherever they're going to be able to learn how to make the bed, they're going to be able to create this in VR they're going to be able to walk around the fish market in Japan, the type, the different types of fish. It's taking it that one step further, that the world is becoming smaller and we can all learn from each other doesn't matter which country, which country they are. I found that the avatars work well for in certain instances. But in virtual reality, I believe that it has to be the person because we need to see their face. We need to enable everybody to just in, you know, learn from each other. For example, this one we could, we're also doing a lot of on boarding. So it means that we film the hotel, we get the general manager. So the general manager will do an introduction. Can you imagine?

Especially now listening to in the UK this morning, I heard that um there was a massive problem that there were wasn't enough employees for the hotel industry because they've left, we could easily create a 360 training scenario where the employees will actually learn more about the hotel in five minutes than they could do.

Wasting an hour. We can easily make it this in VR and we can also make this, that they can get it straight through their phone onto or the, there are lots of different ways of working. Um, we either stream the content directly to the headsets or it can be instructor led with the instructor led. You can see, we, we still have the passports and everybody gets their own stamp. And believe me, some people have actually filled up their passports with the amount of stamps that they've had over the last 10 years. Um Even if I'm not there, they can, they have the cards and the questions and the content can be done in a very personal way. The main thing about training is everybody's not the same. And even on the instructor cards, there will be questions and prompts, but these are just singular ideas. The instructor or the associate who's working as a team, they have to be able to interpret it in their own words.

And as you can see lots of smiles, uh this, this young girl, she was, she actually thought that she could pick up the fruit, which was on the, the basket. So she tried picking up the fruit and then realized it was a 360 film that so she couldn't, this is another example um where we can have a mixture of two, we can have um in structure led training. So what you're seeing at the front um is that the group of 10 people who are in the class, they are all looking at this and they're trying to describe what they're seeing. And the, the young boy who's in the VR headset, he was going around the market, choosing the items, which was what were being described to him. So he, he had a 360 market in front of him and they were describing the dish and he had to put it all together. And again, we we do a lot of market trips. Um because it's extremely important that the trainees understand where the products come from. This is not just in India or in Myanmar or Thailand, you know, this, this should be in any country that the waiters and the waitresses should really have an understanding of where that, where the item comes from.

This one, we did a treasure hunt and first we did the treasure hunt in VR. And after it was done in VR, we then actually went to the market for them to go. And this is, this is the boy, one of the, one of the boys actually speaking to one of the spice people and saying, oh, wow, I saw you in virtual reality and it's so nice to so nice to see you. Now, as I mentioned, they can choose to be the shoes of the guest or they can be in the shoes of the associate depending on, um which one that they would like to choose virtual reality is to me is phenomenal. I, I'm inspired and I'm learning so much, you know, and I'm, I'm also very humble in the fact that, you know, I'm, I'm not as technical as lots of you, fantastic ladies, but I've learned myself everything. And in the last two years I've actually been appointed the women in A I ambassador for virtual reality in Asia Pacific. So this, this was my uh my little thing that I was very, you know, very proud that I was a, I'd learned so much about it. The market is phenomenal. We can really make it and but we can really make a difference. I don't make things very expensive because for me, it's about getting this to as many people as I can. So I'm not there to make billions and millions.

I'm there to inspire and to make sure that we can give the best ability and the put this in the hands of millions. This again is my virtual office. So this is open daily and I often have people popping in. This is one of the hotels in India who often come to visit me and we have our training sessions as avatars. This is another option which we're also looking at at the moment I have between it's 350 to 400 modules which are ready to get filmed. We can ship out a box fully uh fully finished and also with all the cards for information. So that's who I am. And I'm going to, I'm going to see if anybody has any questions and if anybody wants to have a chat, please, please do. So. Anybody. Would you like to have a chat? Any questions? Uh Thank you very interesting. Thank you for, thank you for, for listening and not running away. Elsa. Thank you very much as well. And if anybody wants to wants to come up on the stage, I'm sure you can do. I'm not sure I would like to join, but I currently cannot. Oh dear, so happy to answer any questions. And thank you for all listening to my rambling, happy to ask and you can ask me anything. You can ask me why I'd never played on my children's game boys. Yeah. Well, my, my son, he still thinks it's very funny when I start speaking to him about 3D assets and um all the, the virtual hotel, which is being created.

He, he just doesn't believe that I'm actually managing to do it. Thank you, Samantha. What was the best part for you personally? So for me personally, the whole experience was, you know, all of a sudden at 55 to start and say, yeah, OK. I'm gonna start and create virtual reality scenarios. This is something that you don't say, you know, this is something that would never have popped into my head if I hadn't have been in Mumbai and put a headset on. So it was quite um an eye opener. And I'm so delighted that um that I accepted and I did put the headset on and then now we come to the virtual hotel which we will be having shortly and millions of people and millions of trainees who normally would not be allowed into training because it's the cost will be able to get training as well.

Yes, I hope that um I can expand to as many countries as possible. And this is, this is the aim. The main reason I was in Asia Pacific was because this is where I was working. Um and it was on my doorstep, but I've, I mean, I would love to be able to, to do this closer to home as well. The sky is the limit any more questions or comments. I'm also happy to um to connect with people. I should have put that earlier. Um Please just send me a message on linkedin. Happy to happy to meet anybody. Well, thank you. Thank you everybody for, for listening to me and I hope everyone has a fantastic time at the exhibition. I think the Expo Hall opens tomorrow, but I'm going to, there's quite a lot of sessions that I'm looking forward to today and over the next few days. Ok. If there's no more questions, I would like to say, thank you very much and I will see you all soon. Hopefully. Bye.