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Can artificial intelligence really come to the aid of operators fighting the location war?

Ashley Sheppard, Commercial Director, Call Systems Technology and Guest Technology Editor, Restaurant Magazine. As said in the January issue:

We ended 2016 heralding the rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and as we kick start 2017, it will continue to be the buzzword making the rounds of the smart disrupters within hospitality. 

According to CNBC, 60% of US restaurants fail within their first year due to location – that figure drops to around the 50% mark here in the UK.  So, what can restaurant operators do through the use of smart technology to minimise their risk of closure in such a hugely competitive space? Well, the smart disrupters have their faces well and truly tuned to the future, deploying artificial intelligence to keep them firmly ahead of the neighbouring competition.

Leading operators in the US are already using location intelligence to stay ahead of the game. This is something we’re going to be seeing a great deal more of in the UK, as operators go head-to-head in the location war and to remain front-of-mind with customers. Location intelligence combines real, raw data from an operators business to examine every variable and simulation. It uses complex methods of analysis to predict the effect of a nearby competitor’s presence on an operator’s profits. When used to its maximum potential, it will predict how profitable each location will be to an exact level of confidence.  And, in the true spirit of artificial intelligence, it is always learning – so constantly collating and analysing data from restaurant sites to drive loyalty and ultimately sales.

Location intelligence is simply the starting point in this fast paced world of augmented reality.  Throw voice recognition technology into that mix and then we’re really talking! We’re going to be seeing more restaurant operators than ever before turning to voice recognition technology to put the power of the experience firmly into the hands of customers.

Amazon taking Alexa into the restaurant space at the back end of 2015, was a real stroke of genius from the online retailer. Three years on and what is believed to be the first of its kind for the US restaurant industry, QSR Automations recently announced that it had joined Amazon’s Alexa voice-activated service, adding its DineTime platform to the system. Alexa will be able to provide DineTime customers with real-time information about restaurants in their location, allowing them to voice specific questions to Alexa on not only location and distance of a restaurant, but also wait times …and all from the comfort of their own homes. In the future, this technology will go further, with customers being able to voice a request, to add a party of say 10 to a waitlist, whilst being able to make specific reservation requests.

It may be artificial, however, it’s called intelligent for a reason. Those smart disrupters will continue to be just that, because they have every intention of winning the location war through the shrewd deployment of technology.