Few industries have been hit harder by the pandemic than the hospitality industry. According to a January 2022 study by the National Restaurant Association, 74% of restaurateurs said their business was less profitable now than it was before the pandemic began, and 63% of operators said their sales volume in 2021 was lower than that of 2019.

Employee retention hasn’t been easier either, as workers leave the hospitality industry in record numbers. According to the new Data according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 5.6% of employees in the food and accommodation industry left their jobs in April 2022, more than in any other industry.

Artificial intelligence could help understaffed and cash-strapped hospitality businesses. Several companies now offer AI-powered solutions to improve and streamline both customer experience and back-end operations, including inventory and supply chain management, menu optimization, customer profiles customers and crowd control.

Here’s how three vendors are working to implement AI solutions in the hospitality industry.

1. Streamlined data analysis.

CrunchTime, an operations platform founded in 1995, works with restaurant chains of all sizes to simplify operations using AI and machine learning. Customers include industry giants like Dunkin’, Wendy’s, and Shake Shack, as well as hundreds of small, single-location businesses.

One of the reasons restaurants are ripe for implementing AI is that a single transaction can yield a significant amount of data, such as the number of customers in a restaurant at any given time, what they buy, how much they buy, and how they bought it, according to CrunchTime founder Bill Bellissimo. Traditionally, all of this data was recorded and analyzed by the general manager for use in accounting and inventory management operations, a process usually done by slowly and manually entering data into a spreadsheet or on paper. With the advent of machine learning, these tasks can be easily streamlined, leaving restaurateurs more time to focus on what humans excel at: food and experiences.

“If I told you that you could hire an employee who never takes a day off, works seven days a week, does all of your sales forecasting, all of your product orders, all of your order transmissions to suppliers, and all of your job, you’d be like, ‘Wow, that sounds like an amazing employee,'” Bellissimo says. “What we’re doing is taking the back of the house and turning it into a self-driving car.”

2. Personalize the customer experience.

Cendyn, a hospitality-focused software company, offers a cloud-based software platform that centralizes data produced by hotels and enables customers to personalize and optimize the guest experience by tailoring interactions and experiences to each guest. Customers include chains such as Marriott, Hyatt and Hilton, as well as iconic hotels like the Ritz London and Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas.

Like Bellissimo, Cendyn President and CEO Tim Sullivan sees the typical travel experience as filled with potentially useful data. From planning and finding a destination to booking, arriving and departing, “you’re typically interacting with a dozen different systems and leaving an enormous amount of data in your digital wake,” Sullivan says. He adds that in a world made increasingly digital by the pandemic, hotels have more opportunities to use this data in small interactions that can be very useful in trying to build customer brand loyalty.

“One of my pet peeves is when you go to a hotel you’ve stayed at 50 times, and the first thing the concierge asks you is, ‘Have you ever stayed with us? ‘” Sullivan says. To solve this problem, Cendyn developed an app where, after the concierge enters a customer’s name, they enter their profile and run an algorithm to determine the three most important things to say to the customer. Sullivan gave the following example: “One: welcome them back, they’re a Platinum VIP member of the loyalty program. Two: we don’t have a valid email for them on file, secure the email. Three: Give them an upgrade.”

3. Automation of crowd control.

Omnico Group, a customer engagement technology company focused on theme parks, casinos and zoos, provides customers with technology that allows operators to have a complete view of each attendee’s journey through their parks in order to increase spend and personalize the customer experience. Its clients include Six Flags, the operator of Legoland Merlin Entertainment and Dubai Parks and Resorts, the largest theme park destination in the Middle East.

Omnico Chief Revenue Officer Keith Dunphy says park visitors are eager to further personalize their experiences as 80% of attraction visitors believe venues need to do more to appeal to them, according to an Omnico survey. conducted last summer. The survey also revealed that almost one in four visitors would be willing to spend more if they received personalized offers.

An example of this personalization, Dunphy says, is automatically sending customers offers for deals at low-traffic restaurants to relieve pressure from the busiest destinations in the park. He adds that it helps keep customers happy because they feel like they got a great deal and didn’t have to wait long for their food. Employees are also less likely to deal with the issues of running an overcrowded restaurant, such as angry customers and pressure to serve more people than the staff they are equipped to handle.

Technology can even be used to adjust prices. If a theme park experiences a staff shortage, a problem widely anticipated as parks prepare for the summer season, the park can automatically reduce capacity and increase ticket prices, making up for lost revenue due to the drop. of attendance. “And with the smaller crowds, customers are happier and will open their wallets more,” Dunphy says.