Home » The Ethical Dilemma: Swapping Staff for AI in the Hospitality Industry

The Ethical Dilemma: Swapping Staff for AI in the Hospitality Industry

by Mohammad Ghazal

Artificial Intelligence is changing the world at a startling rate, growing at around 38% each year. In every single industry, new technologies are emerging that will change the way we work forever. The world is being forced to keep up or be left behind. And in some cases, this means people are losing their jobs because AI can do many things better and quicker than a person can.

When we relate this to the world of hospitality, does it mean that jobs will no longer exist? Does it mean that there are going to be mass unemployment rates? Well, not exactly.

Most business owners in hospitality no longer have a choice as to whether they bring in automation processes. If they want to stay competitive, profitable, and offer great customer service, it’s basically a necessity at this point. But there are right and wrong ways of doing it.

As a business owner, you need to be transparent with your staff and let them know the changes you’re implementing and how they will help them perform their jobs.

Artificial Intelligence and automation don’t need to replace the human aspect of hospitality, nor should they. But what they can do is enhance the workplace. Make it more efficient, and give copious benefits to the business, as well as the staff.

If you ask people who work in hospitality what the main problems are, you’ll generally get the same few answers. Processes seem overly complicated. They could do with an extra pair of hands so they can provide the type of service they’re proud of, mistakes happen all too frequently, etc. Now, AI actually helps the hospitality industry solve all of these problems without replacing any jobs. Here are some of the ways that AI streamlines workflow for the staff and how they benefit from it.

The primary job of a hospitality worker is to make sure the customers are happy with their experience. Now to do that, they need to manage about 800 things at the same time. Essentially, they need to be professional jugglers to be good at their job in hospitality. But if most of those duties were automated (which they easily can be), workers can focus back on the people. Bringing them their food, answering questions, giving recommendations, clearing tables, even having a laugh, and cracking some jokes now that they’ve got the time!

One of the most frustrating things that can happen in hospitality is an order going wrong. Previously, a customer would give their order, the waiter would write it down, pass it to the kitchen, and they’d prepare it. Sometimes when the order came out, customers would say, ‘That’s not what I ordered’. When it would be, in fact, exactly what they ordered, they’d just forgotten. Now that wasn’t all of the time. Sometimes, waiters would take an order down wrong, or the kitchen wouldn’t be able to read their writing; a docket would go missing or be put in the wrong place in the queue. But regardless of the cause, mistakes were common, and they led to a lot of waste.

Today, customers can punch in their own order. To have it sent directly to the kitchen, they don’t have to guess what it says, and the customer can’t say that it’s not what they ordered because they ordered it themselves! This is what AI in hospitality does. It makes a process more efficient with instant service and minimizes error and waste with more accurate orders. It’s a win all around for the customer, staff, and business.

One of the biggest stressors for employees in hospitality is when they are short-staffed. They need to work much harder to get the work done, and they won’t be able to engage with customers the way they want. The whole business suffers when you’re short-staffed, and the customers aren’t going to have as good of an experience. By implementing AI, automation software, and automated food delivery solutions, the time-consuming and non-customer-facing tasks are taken care of. Although you still need enough staff to work the floor, at least if you’re one or two people down, the team on deck can focus all their attention in one place rather than running all over the venue.

When the main pain points of hospitality staff are taken away, they are going to enjoy their job more naturally. They’re not going to dread coming into work knowing they’ll be run off their feet or that they’ll get in trouble for getting an order wrong. Instead, they’ll know they get to engage with the customers and have a very happy boss.

The benefits of implementing AI into a hospitality business are everywhere. Here’s a quick rundown of the benefits of a hospitality business from a human perspective.

Staff retention
So, we’ve already covered how AI benefits hospitality staff and how it leads to an overall happier team. And what that means for a business is better staff retention – as recorded by the 86% of hospitality shift workers from a recent Deputy study who can identify ways to improve their work environment. For business owners, this means saving on hiring costs, saving time in reduced performance for training periods and better customer service and experience.

Better customer service & experience
When people go out to eat, there are just three things they want. Great food, great company, and great service. To a customer, a great experience is ordering in their own time, not having to leave their table with their friends and family to order food or drinks, and having someone around to answer their questions.

By allowing a customer to look through the menu at their own pace, order in their own time, and make customizations without feeling like they’re being annoying, they get much more enjoyment out of the experience.

Increased profits
Increased profits are a big benefit when it comes to implementing AI into your hospitality business. The Director of The Henchman in Queensland said their sales doubled within a week after they implemented Ai-Menu products. It automatically upsells for you, and people feel more comfortable ordering what they really want if they’re able to do it privately. Now, if your software allows you to increase your profits like that significantly, you wouldn’t need to worry about the cost of your staff providing great service to your customers.

Process improvement
Processes can always be improved. Providing a solution for this is what AI and automation software in hospitality have been specifically designed for. With solutions like online ordering, an order goes directly from the customer to the kitchen. You automatically know a bill without needing to calculate it because it’s all been recorded from the moment they ordered. There’s no end-of-day tallying or clients getting overlooked because the staff is too busy running orders to the kitchen. With streamlined processes, you get happier staff, happier customers, and happier owners who all have more time on their hands.

In conclusion, when a business owner is transparent about the implementation of AI, employees are generally quite excited about it. They know it will make their job easier and it will eliminate most of the problems associated with their jobs. AI doesn’t need to replace staff in hospitality. What it can do, though, is streamline efficiencies, allowing staff to focus on customer service and giving clients a better experience at your venue.

By Naji Haddad , MENA General Manager at Deliverect

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