AI in the hospo world

Artificial intelligence is changing the way we work, live and interact. It seems there is not one part of our lives that AI is not affecting. The hospitality industry is one of the first to be colonised. At present AI rearranges data into formats that are useful for humans. There are already terabytes of data online about menus, recipes and sequence of service that algorithms can search and re-process. At the same time, restaurants and hotels collect huge amounts of data on their clients that can be mined and rearranged into meaningful information. Here we take a quick look at what is already on the AI menu for the hospitality industry.

AI recipes

AI sommeliers

Have a whole lot of random ingredients in the fridge and can’t think of a recipe to bring them all together? Well, there is an AI app for that. In fact, there are scores of apps into which you punch in the ingredients, the allergies, the number of pax and other parameters such as the style of cuisine. A few seconds later the app spits out a quite edible recipe. While most of the apps like Alfoodie are aimed at punters, there are those like ChefGPT more aligned with commercial kitchens.

AI is not a dark art. It is about assembling existing information into a new format. There are services like Sommify that integrate with your own website to help customers get a feel of what they would order before they book. Customers can visit your site, check out the menu then punch the dishes they like into the AI system. It then cross references that meal choice with your cellar list and spits out, so to speak, some appropriate wine selections. The parameters are determined by a real life human sommelier who has previously given their lifetime of experience to the programmers.

AI waiters

AI bartenders

Some of the big players in the fast food sector are already way down the line in turning on AI order-takers in the drive through lane. Customers speak directly into the microphone and, instead of a human with a Madonna mic taking the order, it’s a chatbot. These AI-powered voicebots are already being tested and are proving to be almost 100% accurate. This improved accuracy is leading to a decreased wait time for customers and increased food sales for the business.

British data science company DataSparQ has developed facial recognition technology to end bar-queue jumping. It works by AI connected to the camera above the bar identifying faces. As people rock up to the bar, the software assigns a number to that face. A screen shows the bartender the face and the number. The bartenders can then serve the next customer in numerical order. The software can remember the customer’s last order or if they have a tab behind the bar. If the customer looks under legal drinking age the bartender is reminded to check for ID.

AI business manager

AI design

AI is already being used in POS software that helps track existing stock inventory, such as dry goods and liquor. It can look at existing figures, compare them with previous seasons’ figures and predict future orders. In doing so it can then work out present and future cashflow.

The breakthrough AI chatbot ChatGPT is already being used to help business owners to develop their next project. They punch in their queries about venue size, number of pax and local planning laws and ChatGPT spits out a response with a relatively high degree of accuracy. Liquor laws, labour laws, kitchen design and customer flow queries can all be given a fairly accurate overview with this much talked-about AI tool.

AI flaws

Artificial intelligence still lacks the human capacity for actual intelligence to draw an independent conclusion from available data or to make creative choices. AI is incapable of truly empathising with humans or offering insight, both skills at the core of the hospitality industry. So there is still a huge demand for flesh-and-blood people to bring the joy, love and passion of hospitality to other humans. This is something that AI is incapable of. Yet.

As seen in Winter 2023

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