BII Magazine (Summer 2023)
Polaris Elements’ Managing Director Neil Westwater tackles the issues surrounding AI and how it’s affecting hospitality – with the assistance of the AI-powered chat GPT4 to write this article.
When I was asked to write an article for the BII News’ summer edition, I could have written about Polaris mPay, our fully integrated mobile point-of-sale software that sits on your actual PDQ machine, or Polaris Quantum, the latest inventory management software to the market. Instead, I chose to review the pressing issue/opportunity of AI and how it will affect our beloved industry.
What better way to research this subject than asking the AI-powered Chat GPT4 to write about how AI is currently impacting hospitality and how it will affect our businesses further in the future. There were a few repetitions and I have made some adjustments, but the following information should give you an idea of what it thinks (blowing its own trumpet). It is worth noting that when asked about what challenges Chat GPT4 saw for the sector, other than cost, it solely focuses on data privacy and security.
CURRENT APPLICATIONS OF AI IN THE RESTAURANT AND BAR INDUSTRY
One of the most significant impacts of AI on the restaurant and bar industry is automation. Automation can help reduce labour costs, eliminate errors and improve efficiency. Many restaurants and bars are already using AI-powered systems, such as digital ordering kiosks, self-checkout machines and mobile ordering to streamline their operations and enhance customer experience. These systems allow customers to order and pay without interacting with staff, freeing up staff time to focus on other tasks.
2. Predictive analytics
Another area where AI is being used in the restaurant and bar industry is predictive analytics. AI can help restaurants and bars forecast demand, optimise inventory and reduce waste. For example, AI-powered software can analyse historical sales data, weather forecasts and local events to predict customer traffic and optimise food and beverage inventory accordingly.
Personalisation is another area where AI is being used to enhance customer experience. AI-powered systems can collect and analyse customer data to create personalised recommendations, offers and promotions. For example, a bar could use AI to analyse a customer’s past orders and preferences to create a customised cocktail menu for them.
AI-powered chatbots are another area where restaurants and bars are leveraging AI technology. Chatbots can answer customer inquiries, take orders and provide recommendations. Chatbots can be particularly helpful for bars and restaurants that have limited staff resources and need to respond to customer inquiries quickly.
POTENTIAL FUTURE APPLICATIONS
1. Predictive maintenance
AI-powered predictive maintenance can help restaurants and bars reduce equipment downtime and repair costs. AI can analyse data from sensors
and equipment to identify potential issues before they become significant problems. For example, AI-powered software can detect when a piece of equipment is about to fail and schedule maintenance proactively.
2. Menu engineering
AI can help restaurants and bars optimise their menus to increase profitability. AI-powered systems can analyse menu items’ popularity, cost and margin to suggest menu changes that can improve profitability. For example, AI-powered software can suggest replacing an item that is not selling well with a more profitable alternative.
3. Staff scheduling
AI can help restaurants and bars optimise staff scheduling to reduce labour costs while ensuring optimal coverage. AI-powered systems can analyse
historical sales data, weather forecasts and local events to predict customer traffic and schedule staff accordingly. This can help reduce overstaffing and
understaffing, which can result in labour cost savings.
4. Fraud detection
AI can help restaurants and bars detect and prevent fraud. AI-powered software can analyse sales data and identify suspicious activity, such as unusual transactions or sales patterns. This can help restaurants and bars detect and prevent theft and other fraudulent activities.
CHALLENGES AND CONCERNS
While AI offers many benefits to the restaurant and bar industry, there are also challenges and concerns that need to be addressed.
One of the most significant challenges is the cost of implementing AI technology. However, integrated software that utilises AI should negate the need to overextend your budget, especially when there are so many other cost pressures in the sector. AI should realise a fast ROI and enable growth – not be a hinderance.
Another concern is data privacy and security. This includes but is not limited to:
- Data collection and use: a reliance on very large data sets to make accurate predictions.
- Data storage and security: protection from unauthorised access, theft and loss. This includes implementing access controls, encryption and secure storage practices. The operator is the Data Controller.
- Data breaches: cyberattacks and data breaches. The appropriate security measures in place to prevent, detect and respond to data breaches.
- Transparency and accountability: operators must be transparent with customers about how their data is being used and stored.
- Employee training and awareness: employees are trained and aware of the data privacy and security risks associated with AI.
By addressing these data privacy and security issues, operators can deploy AI technology in a responsible and ethical manner, while also realising the benefits that AI can bring to their operations.
AI is already transforming the restaurant and bar industry, and its impact is likely to increase in the future. From automation to predictive analytics and personalisation, AI offers many benefits that can help restaurants and bars streamline operations, enhance customer experience and increase
profitability. However, to fully realise these benefits, operators must address the challenges and concerns that come with implementing AI technology.
At Polaris, we will be consistently reviewing how this technology will help us advance our software suite. True predictive modelling around accurate sales forecasting and labour deployment is already at the heart of Polaris Data, and reducing wastage and profit optimisation through menu engineering are ingrained into Polaris Quantum.
In summary, AI offers many opportunities for restaurants and bars to improve their operations, but operators must be mindful of the challenges and concerns associated with implementing AI technology. By focusing on the most significant pain points, implementing best practices for data privacy and
security, and being transparent with customers, operators can fully realise the benefits of AI in the restaurant and bar industry.