Every week we comb through the news to find employment trends affecting the hospitality industry so you don’t have to. This week’s Hospitality in the News topic: AI in the hospitality industry.  

During the early days of the pandemic, more technology was being introduced to the hospitality industry to better allow for necessary health and safety measures. Though we’ve moved past that specific need, the desire for efficiency and effectiveness remains.  

Recently artificial intelligence has been dominating the headlines as it becomes more accessible to businesses as well as the public (example: ChatGPT). With it continuing to permeate more sectors, many are wondering what place artificial intelligence will have in the hospitality industry. As more advancements are made, we’re seeing name brands opting to let AI help with automating certain responsibilities.  

With any technological advancement comes concerns surrounding whether they’re a ‘good idea’ or if they’ll take away the human touch, a necessary (and often costly) element in the hospitality industry. Which is crucial especially when talking about certain business aspects like recruiting, hiring, or customer service. 

AI in the Hospitality Industry

As for AI in the hospitality industry, so far we’ve been seeing things like AI chatbots, AI voice assistants, and AI powered drive thru lanes. All these advancements aim to reduce costs and expedite the ordering process while maintaining a great guest experience. But unsurprisingly these implementations come with their own set of challenges. One major fast-food chain reported a 15% decrease in accuracy for customers testing out AI while driving thru the golden arches. Needless to say, there are still kinks to work out before these types of programs are launched nationwide.  

On the hotel side, the tech looks a little different but the goal remains the same: reduce costs, expedite requests, maintain guest experience. Some hotels have already begun piloting concierges powered by artificial intelligence. In one hotel the AI concierge – affectionally named Rose – purports to be a resident in the hotel. She can suggest different restaurants and local spots for guests to check out.  

In addition to customer service, artificial intelligence will likely make its way into other operations including housekeeping and some management related roles. Regardless of what department it involves, we can expect to see more AI being implemented in the next couple of years.  

When discussing AI in the hospitality industry, it’s important to mention automation; often the two can be confused with one another. According to Leapwork, “Automation is about setting up robots to follow a set of pre-defined rules. AI is about setting up robots to make their own decisions (though still based on human input).” When comparing the two in terms of hospitality you can imagine it like this:  

  • Automation: Using predefined rules, a robot chef can cook meat to a safe internal temperature for serving. An automated robot chef cannot take custom cooking orders that vary based on customer request.  
  • Artificial Intelligence: Using a series of “if this, then that” input, a robot host can seat customers based on their seating preference. An AI robot cannot act outside of the input data meaning there are limitations especially regarding creativity, moral judgement, and strategy (…for now).  

We all know the possible downsides of artificial intelligence (and automation) in the workplace. Taking away human jobs, high costs, discrimination/lack of emotion – to name a few. But as the world changes, so does technology. What can we expect for the future of AI in the hospitality industry? Only time will tell – so keep an eye on the Hospitality in the News series for everything you need to know about the hospitality industry.