24 Apr, 2019

An incomplete look at how AI will be used in hospitality over the coming decades

Following on from Part 1, is Part 2 about how AI will impact all of us in hospitality. By Ryan Smallwood-Simpson, H&L Software Developer.

In Part 1, we explored a day in the life of John the Chef, Sally the Waitress and Marion the Manager with AI implemented in the hospitality workplace. As we said in Part 1, everything in these examples is already technologically possible, so they are not pipedreams. But they do need to come together in one integrated platform.

In Part 2 of this blog, we go a little deeper and look at the features that will be available to use in this brave new world of AI in hospitality, in the front and back of house operations. Some of this might make you scratch your head but remember that although all of this is entirely possible and much of the technology available already, it is still an incomplete look at the future of AI in hospitality, so stay tuned!

Real time run sheet of prep work for each chef – working to staff strengths

By analysing how long each task takes in prep time for each employee based on their history, the AI intelligence will assign tasks according to the chef’s individual strengths to allow meals to be prepared at maximum speed without sacrificing quality. Customer service improves, they get the right meal at the best quality possible, and on time.

Real time meal deals and price optimisation of products

With this feature, you will be able to find combinations of food items that fit current customer profiles and match them to your available stock, to create real time deals to offer your customers. Bob likes burgers on Thursday, and Jane loves salads, but sometimes likes to add a bit of protein. The system lets you know to offer a chicken salad deal, so she gets the best of both worlds!

To take it one step further, if paired with facial recognition, you will be able to profile individual customers as they walk in. You’ll know what kind of food they are craving so you can offer the best deals on what they're hungry for.

Pop up suggestions for staff "would you like the potato dish instead of the fries"

Staff are prepared and equipped before talking to a customer with the knowledge of the customer’s tastes and preferences. For example, you have John’s profile and preferences collected from previous visits, John likes Shiraz paired with medium rare steak, and the system also recommends the potato dish as an appetiser. The potato dish was recommended instead of the fries which is what he normally likes, but he seems to be on a diet recently, so the potato dish is a healthy and tasty alternative to offer him. Happy days!

Custom meal deals in this manner can be offered to customers and their reaction to them tracked over time so that you can alter suggestions and refine your offers. For example, you notice that John prefers butter to olive oil in pan frying, so you offer this next time.

 Voice recognition builds a database of knowledge

You’ll be able to create real time transcripts of conversations in the kitchen, or when staff interact with customers. Knowing what kinds of questions your customers ask, as well as how staff respond to those questions will allow you to build customer profiles and know your customers even better. It can also be used in the kitchen to ensure chefs are communicating productively.

For example, Bob responds well to being asked how his day was before ordering, but Jane prefers to be left alone and order an entrée first with her wine as she thinks about her main course.

Analyse how long meals are taken to eat and optimise the queue further

Since we’ll know how long each meal takes to prepare and eat, we can begin optimising the queue so that customers do not have to wait too long between courses. Customers won’t come back to a restaurant that took an hour between appetisers and mains so this level of planning will prevent long waits without you having to think ahead.

Manage and change menus for increased profitability

Using data made available to the industry, your system will offer suggestions for adding/changing/removing menu items for improved customer service and greater profitability.

For example:

  1. No nearby restaurants make a good chicken burger, so offering one at the bistro fills this gap and attracts new customers.
  2. While the jumbo supreme mega schnitzel is ordered often, it is rarely finished so your system suggests to reduce the serving size.
  3. The mega steak and vegetables take too long to prepare, so try changing prep method to XYZ to speed up production.

Let your floorplan give you insights

By analysing the floor plan of your venue, you can find connections between what people order and where they're sitting. There will likely be trends you had not noticed before so this will help you to figure out which seating arrangement maximises profits and increases customer satisfaction.

Popular order trawler # so that your menu is meeting market forces

An AI algorithm will trawl trending orders on social networking websites, and notify management that chicken burgers are globally trending due to the #noBullNoBeef movement. Then you can make sure your venue is offering more chicken alternatives that week.

Voice recognition – hands free!

You will no longer need touch or bump bars when you can just say "hey Siri, finished the steak order". Hands free!

Prep overseer – help in the kitchen

Chefs manually having to keep track of how long each part of the recipe takes will be a thing of the past. With facial recognition software, an AI can automatically keep track of each phase of meal preparation, and therefore make observations like "Alex seems to be a little hesitant in cutting tomatoes, here is an online tutorial he could watch to help him gain some confidence and speed.

Prepare for the future by making sure you are up to date today

Have a chat with your local H&L Account Manager by giving the office a call on 1800 778 340. They will help you understand how some simple changes to your technology in the back and front of house can make a substantial difference to your operating profits, as well as setting you up for a future of AI that will be here sooner than later. It is easier and less costly to your business to take small steps toward this future than to take a flying leap of faith down the track!

And if you’re curious about what our AI future looks like in general, you may find the following (long) article interesting: The AI Revolution: The Road to Superintelligence.