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What is Tech Doing to Solve Hospitality’s Biggest Problems?

22 July 2019 by Food&HotelAsia



In the recent years, the tendrils of technology have reached far and wide, completely transforming the way we live. From smart wearable devices that track your health to algorithms that monitor restaurant customers’ browsing and ordering patterns, tech has become so integral in every aspect of our personal lives to businesses that it is no longer the exception, but the norm. ‘Deep machine learning’, ‘blockchain’ and ‘IoT’ are no longer just trendy buzzwords, but industry jargon for all industries, and the F&B and hospitality sector is no stranger to them. This article explores the various ways tech is helping to solve F&B’s and hospitality’s biggest problems. 

Staff Hiring 

Manpower, or lack thereof, has always been a challenge faced by the hospitality industry. In countries like Singapore, China, Vietnam and South Korea where high turnover of staff is a constant source of discontentment amongst business owners, self-ordering kiosk systems have seen great increase in demand. Aigens, a Hong Kong-based technology company offers such systems that not only integrate CRM and POS systems, but also utilises AI to upsell and cross sell products, offers Natural Language Recognition to “auto-categorise” food items and e-payment integration with popular wallets like Apple Pay, Google Pay, Alipay and WeChat – just to name a few features. 

“In just a few years, we have captured over 60 per cent of the market share for the largest F&B groups in Hong Kong, and our clients have reported returns such as a boost by 25 per cent in the average bill, savings of up to 50 per cent on front-of-house labour costs and an overall more streamlined dining experience for consumers”, says Tiffany Sit, an Aigen’s representative, over an email interview.

Increased productivity

Robots are (finally) taking over the world, or at least, the hotel business. Singaporean hotel chain comprising of Hotel Jen Orchardgateaway and Hotel Jen Tanglin have mobilised two robots named Jeno and Jena for room service delivery, freeing staff to focus on other chores. Whether you need a towel or a cheeseburger, these bots are able to deliver within 15 minutes from the time the order is placed, and can carry a 4.5 kg load each time. While it is not the first time robots have been working in hotels, it is a first for a major international group to do so in Asia. These bots are not just highly instrumental, but also value-add to guests overall staying experience, creating much buzz on social media. 


It’s a mobile world

The smartphone has revolutionised the world – you could get through an entire day without leaving your bed so long you had your phone nearby. Mobile traffic has grown exponentially in the recent years, with Oracle reporting that a majority of global consumers (57 per cent) have used or are using mobile applications to engage with operators.  Optimal mobile solutions are therefore, crucial in ensuring a seamless experience, as the consumer today is not only just picky, but literally has a world of options in the palm of his hand. It is therefore crucial that businesses invest in optimising their digital presence. For example, Singapore start-up Waitrr allows customers to order ahead from over 200 restaurants via a mobile app, and provides dinners with efficient payment solutions. This automates the order taking and payment processes, allowing restaurants to increase staff operational capacity while providing the highly-valued customised experience to guests.  

Waste not, want not 

The hospitality industry’s number one problem? Food wastage. From small local cafes to international hotel chains, did you know that roughly a third of the food produced for human consumption every year (estimated at 1.3 billion tonnes) gets lost or wasted? This is a gross number considering how many people live below the poverty and have little to no access to food. Aside from saving money for businesses, we have a social and ethical responsibility to be more diligent in our attitudes toward food. In Singapore, start-up Good For Food is fighting the good fight. Founder Rayner Loi, who was only 22 at the time, has created as mart food waste tracker that uses artificial intelligence to measure and identify food waste that goes into bins. Working with businesses like hotels and dining halls, his product known as Insight uses a built-in camera, sensors and image recognition technology to track the food that gets thrown away, and the data collected is sent to a cloud that the company later generates into reports. His clients’ food waste has fallen, on average, by an impressive 30-40 per cent bringing food costs down by 3-8 per cent. 

Technology might be a double-edged sword, but in most instances, it is changing the hospitality scene for the better, helping both consumers and businesses. As we move further into the digital age and technology becomes even smarter and more advanced, we are excited to see how it will shape the industry’s future and just possibly, change the world. 

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