How will the hospitality industry change when restaurants and coffee shops install beacons and other IoT technologies and integrate them into their operations?
For one thing, it’s a pretty fair bet that the installation of digitized check-in systems that automatically book and assign tables direct to guests’ phones will lead to more efficient customer service and reduced waiting times.
It’s also more than likely that the digitized menus with advanced recommendation engines will help goose up sales and margins by offering customers suggestions and special offers based on previous purchase patterns.
So far so good for the owner, at least until her competitors have caught up by installing similar systems, but what about the employees? Barring the sudden emergence of a new breed of sophisticated robots, there’ll still be a need for chefs and other kitchen staff to prepare the food and waiters and waitresses to take it to the guests. But what about the staff who take the bookings, assign the tables, and carry out other admin tasks that can be easily and cheaply automated?
The likelihood is that there will be a reduced need for people in such roles, and not just in the restaurant business either. Owners will have to think carefully about how to reconfigure their operational structure in order to accommodate these changes, while the employees themselves will need to upgrade their skill sets in order to be able to take on new and different responsibilities. Governments, too, will need to develop new policies to retrain those that have lost their jobs so that they can quickly return to the workforce.
This transition will be difficult for everyone involved and will impact a huge swathe of businesses that up to now have been barely been impacted by the forces of digitization. Better to start thinking about this issue now so that we are ready to deal with the wrenching changes it will bring than wait until it’s too late to do anything about them.