In this article I am going to discuss various ideas for how Artificial Intelligence (AI) can potentially be used within the restaurant and bar industry. The ideas discussed are all possible using web based and / or physical smart technology like Google Home. The article also discusses ways to promote cafe, restaurant and bar businesses to AI personal assistants such as Siri, Google Assitant and Alexa.
The first and most obvious use for AI is a chatbot, accessible via the restaurant / bar's website. Such a bot can be surfaced through a Live Chat feature, or perhaps something a little more interactive like this example of artificial intelligence integrated into a website.
A chat bot for a bar / restaurant can be used to answer all sorts of customer queries and if smart enough can even make reservations. The benefit of using Chat Bots for live chat is that they are available 24/7, very cheap to run and infinitely scale-able.
To demonstrate their power I have built a simple chat bot to represent a fictitious Italian restaurant called Stevio's. The bot is configured to answer a broad selection of questions ranging from directions, to food types, menus and it can even take a reservation - give it a try!
This bot has been written using the https://www.dialogflow.com framework which incorporates a 'training' function. This function allows you to gradually improve and broaden the responses your bot can give, meaning the more it is used the better it becomes - just like training a new member of staff.
AI Voice Controlled Devices
I have been lucky enough recently to purchase a new Google Home and also an Amazon Alexa device which brings artificial intelligence right into the heart of your home or business. There are several potential uses for this type of 'smart' AI device in a restaurant, bar or cafe including:-
- Countdown timer / alarm.
- Ability to check cooking times for dishes online.
- Have recipe information read out.
- Control of a master shopping list for ingredients, which any team member can add to / access.
- The ability to get the next order read out to the team via a voice app.
- Voice control the heating and lighting throughout the restaurant / bar. Set up 'Mood Lighting' areas that can be controlled by voice.
- Voice control the background music when the device is linked to popular music services such as Spotify. Establishments could even allow customers to make their own requests for music directly to the smart device.
- Allow customers to leave feedback via the smart device after their visit. A voice app to collect feedback is easy to write for devices such as Google Home. Customers will most likely feel more comfortable leaving honest feedback with a chatbot.
Ordering Food and Drinks Using AI in a Bar / Restaurant
This next idea might sound a little far fetched, but for something a bit different, eateries could allow customers to order their food via a voice controlled device, or perhaps a tablet that links to a special waiter / waitress AI bot. Such a bot could easily be written and made available through a password protected area of your website. This function could allow customers to pre-order their food online, or allow them to order it from their table on arrival.
AI in Search Engines and Personal Assistants
Search engines are starting to introduce AI Chatbots into their search results to act as a personal assistant to the searcher. These bots are using information freely available on the web to answer common questions about dining destinations such as directions, opening times, food types etc. A more detailed explanation is provided in this article at Search Engine Land.
Personal AI Assistants (PA's) are gathering their information from various sources on the internet. Cafe, bar and restaurant owners should consider various strategie for making their content available to these assistants. One of the easiest ways to do this is to create a frequently asked questions section in the establishment's website. Then, add a separate page for each question and answer, keeping them brief. Typical questions could be:-
- What type of Restaurant is Stevio's in Halifax?
- Does Stevio's in Halifax have a Childrens Menu?
- Can I take my own booze to Stevio's in Halifax?
These types of short questions and answers are like honey for PA's.
It goes without saying that any type of dining establishment should register their business with the various search engines e.g. Google for business .