Five AI trends in the hospitality industry

Artificial intelligence (AI) is changing the world of work. Although it is feared by some people, AI can automate many activities and so brings genuine added value for others. More and more AI-based tools are finding their way into the hospitality industry, too – in areas ranging from process planning to customer interaction.

Editor's note: The images in this article were created by an image generator using artificial intelligence and edited by MPULSE Image Creation.

What’s it all about?

Five AI trends for everyday use in the hospitality industry:
🤖 AI as a digital assistant
🤖 Customer interaction via AI chatbot
🤖 Generating images with AI
🤖 Using AI to reduce food waste
🤖 AI as a product tester

Artificial intelligence in the hospitality industry? This is no longer some kind of futuristic vision. AI-based programs can improve and automate operations and processes, for example. This frees up time that restaurateurs can invest in other activities instead, such as looking after guests or planning menus. But AI is not limited to process optimisation – it can provide support in many other areas too. The scope of AI is immense. We look at a few of the potential applications. Five AI trends that could benefit restaurateurs.


1. AI as a digital assistant

People working in hospitality spend a large part of their day on admin. What would it be like to have a digital assistant that could take over these tasks? AI software can produce very accurate costings, for example. The Delicious Data platform draws on large quantities of data to generate product consumption forecasts that can improve sales planning. With an AI-based analysis of the menu, METRO Gastro Consulting can identify dishes with a high profit margin and position them on the menu in accordance with a design devised by psychologists to maximise income.  AI can also automatically check stock levels and identify gaps so that restaurateurs can reorder the ingredients they need in good time. But that’s not all. If restaurateurs are short of ideas, AI can help here, too, and suggest new recipes or menus based on the available ingredients. Workforce planning, which needs to be done carefully to avoid staffing gaps, can also be managed using AI-based programs such as QPlaner. The AI software can generate rotas and shift schedules based on individual business and staff data. Before that though, restaurateurs need to recruit staff. For many business owners, writing appealing job ads is a challenge. AI tools such as ChatGPT can help here too, by suggesting ideas or even generating complete ads.


2. Customer interaction via AI chatbot

Will restaurant customers mainly communicate with AI chatbots in future? No, of course not. Communication with customers will always be an important part of the job of a restaurateur and their team. But chatbots and voice bots can help to improve customer service by taking orders and bookings, or providing recommendations. And AI is useful for dealing with customers on the phone as well as in the restaurant. AI-based speech technologies can imitate human-to-human interactions. One example is the foodcall voice bot, which automatically takes customer orders, reservations or other requests by telephone or WhatsApp and sends them to the cash register system. Staff don’t have to deal with as many calls, freeing up time for other tasks.


3. Generating images with AI

The possibilities for image creation are seemingly limitless with AI. AI image generators such as Midjourney can create new visual worlds or graphics within seconds. Restaurateurs can also benefit from these applications by having their menus or restaurant interiors professionally photographed, saving time and money. It can also be worth asking AI to optimise a restaurant’s existing visual world because search engines such as Google use image recognition technologies to identify and categorise the content of digital images. Using Google Lens, potential customers can then find restaurants by searching for a specific dish, for example.

PuduBot Ella serving meals at Marianne’s Flammkuchen

Teaming up with robots

Robots are on the rise in the catering industry: They serve, cook and give their human colleagues time for guests.

Boost efficiency with AI and DISH  

Digital solutions such as DISH also rely on AI. Using large datasets of more than 500,000 recipes and menus, AI analyses restaurants’ menus, for example, to check that they meet customer preferences. The application also comes up with recommendations to help restaurateurs plan the use of their inventories more efficiently and thereby increase profitability. The DISH Starter website design tool also uses AI-based software. The application can automatically translate texts and optimise them for search engines so that customers can find the restaurant’s website more easily.


4. Using AI to reduce food waste

Many restaurant kitchens throw food away every day due to miscalculations or because of strict hygiene regulations. AI-based tools such as Kitro can help to avoid food waste. The software provides an accurate overview of the weight and the cost of food waste. It helps restaurateurs to identify various sources of waste, eliminate operational inefficiencies and use resources more effectively. KITRO also provids forecasts of future sales, which allows restaurateurs to buy exactly what they need and plan production accordingly.

METRO reduces food waste with AI

METRO also uses AI-based tools for tasks such as stock management. It is working with the start-up Freshflow to tailor this more closely to customer needs. Freshflow optimises the procurement processes for ultra-fresh products. The generation of AI-based demand forecasts as well as stock and shelf-life simulations means businesses can make their purchasing more accurate, with less food being surplus to requirement or going out of date, thereby significantly reducing food waste.


5. AI as a product tester

A digital palate that can taste? Sounds like science fiction, but it’s already reality. For a long time, mechanical sensors were unable to match human taste buds, but inventions such as IBM’s artificial tongue Hypertaste are slowly beginning to close the gap. The AI tongue detects the molecules contained in drinks using combinatorial sensory technology. It then compares the results with other liquids it already knows, via a cloud server. So AI can taste wines as accurately as a professional wine expert. In future, the digital tongue could support sommeliers in their work, for example by identifying counterfeits and removing them from circulation.

Editor's note: The images in this article were created by an image generator using artificial intelligence and edited by MPULSE Image Creation.

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