Type above and press Enter to search. Press Esc to cancel.


How Artificial Intelligence is Transforming the Restaurant Industry

How Artificial Intelligence is Transforming the Restaurant Industry

The world of artificial intelligence – known as AI for short – is growing at a rapid rate, with smart, data-driven technologies helping to replace many manual, time-consuming processes. 

Whilst artificial intelligence can be polarising, when used in the right ways, it can be an incredibly useful tool. From digital voice assistants and facial recognition on mobile phones, to travel apps that monitor traffic, AI adds efficiency and insight into everyday life. 

From personal to professional spheres, numerous industries, including the hospitality sector, are leveraging AI technology to enhance service processes and streamline operations, highlighting its increasingly valuable role.

Artificial intelligence is already transforming the restaurant industry in a positive way, with 84% of C-level executives believing that they need to adopt and leverage AI to drive growth objectives.

In this blog, we’ll be sharing the ways that artificial intelligence can help the restaurant industry save time, reduce food waste, improve customer service, and gain new customers.

Here are the topics we’ll be covering:

Discover the trends shaping the restaurant industry

A global survey of over 8,000 hospitality operators and guests reveals how operations and consumer preferences have shifted in the past year.

How to reduce food waste using AI

Food waste is a major issue within the restaurant industry, and one that all restaurants should be considering when it comes to the day-to-day running of their business. 

As of 2024, over one third of all food produced globally goes to waste, with 9.5 million tonnes of food discarded each year in the UK alone. When dumped in already overflowing landfills, this waste breaks down and releases dangerous levels of methane.

The UK hospitality industry contributes to approximately 10% of this food waste, costing restaurants about £682 million annually and only intensifying profit-loss. 

However, these statistics are not meant to merely frighten and shock. Instead, they can illustrate the value of AI, and how it can contribute to the moral and ethical efforts centring food waste as well as improve the economic status of our hospitality sector. 

An ePOS with advanced inventory management tools lets restaurateurs adjust their food stock according to demand. Restaurant owners and managers can then plan ahead, only purchasing the right quantities based on the number of diners per shift and the given time period. With an automatic replenishment tool, restaurateurs don’t have to worry about manually managing their inventory. 

Forecasting as a form of artificial intelligence is another powerful tool in the mission towards reducing food waste. A digital inventory solution uses past sales data to establish an optimal forecasted stock level, drastically reducing the risk of food going to waste. As a result, restaurateurs only order what they need to reduce their throw-away rate, lose less money, and preserve their margins. 

Another powerful management tool that contributes to minimising food waste and prevents financial losses, is Advanced Insights. With this product, accessible from Lightspeed’s ePOS platform, restaurateurs gain a detailed breakdown of menu performance, enabling easy identification of top-performing dishes and most popular orders. This allows kitchen staff and managers to better plan for future produce orders, directly reducing food waste.

With Lightspeed’s powerful integration with Tenzo, insights can be taken to the next level, driving restaurants forward with AI-powered data. Tenzo visualises your ePOS, labour, inventory, social media, and reviews data in one place, and breaks this data down into clear insights. With this, Tenzo can directly increase revenue by identifying sources of food waste through accessible visuals.

AI-powered management tools can help restaurant owners effectively manage their restaurant inventory by arming them with the facts they need to make data-led decisions.

How to reach new customers using AI

An illustration of a hand holding a phone with an app open and a heart emoji

Every social media platform is powered by AI, from Instagram’s algorithm, to paid and organic social media marketing. Artificial intelligence constantly utilises past user behaviours to suggest new content. 

For restaurants using social media as a form of marketing, this technology gives you the chance to have your content surfaced to people that might not know about your brand yet. 

From a paid social media perspective, artificial intelligence gives you the opportunity to create highly targeted ads based on a user’s demographic and behaviour. These technological tools optimise your ads for you, ensuring you have the best chance of reaching new – and relevant – customers for your restaurant.

Employee satisfaction and artificial intelligence

A beige banner with an illustration of a person stood behind a counter pouring a coffee

Your employee’s happiness is integral to running a successful restaurant. Unhappy staff lead to higher turnover, which in turn costs you money. Disgruntled employees can also damage the reputation of your restaurant. Using artificial intelligence in the form of scheduling tools can help improve your employee’s satisfaction.

Workforce is an employee scheduling tool that uses data to forecast demand, letting you build staff rotas based on how busy you’ll be at any given time. Workforce also has a powerful machine learning algorithm that builds rotas based on the weather, footfall, events, and location-specific trends. 

This use of AI in restaurants, in turn, improves staff satisfaction, as it leads to less last-minute cancelled shifts, and ensures your employees will have plenty of work when they are in, leading to improved productivity. 

Workforce also lets you automatically schedule shifts according to qualifications, licences, and certifications, ensuring staff never work shifts they aren’t qualified for. By matching the right staff for the right shift, this improves employee satisfaction, as your staff are able to perform their job to the best of their ability.

The time-saving power of artificial intelligence

One of the most powerful ways artificial intelligence can improve your restaurant is by saving you time.

Using AI for content creation

Content creation is key for your restaurant brand, whether that’s social media posts, marketing emails, meta titles, or menu descriptions. Creating content can be time-consuming, and if this isn’t an area you’re experienced in, it can be a task you dread. Enter, ChatGPT.

ChatGPT is an AI-driven natural language processing tool that creates content for you based on specific requests. Within seconds, you’re given content that you can use across your website, marketing materials, and social media channels. 

When it comes to using ChatGPT, you need to be specific with your requests. For instance, if you want ChatGPT to create a meta description for your website, you could say: “Write me a 160 character meta description with the keyword ‘[insert restaurant name]’.”

Here’s an example of a test we did using ChatGPT to create social media content. We asked “Write me a 200 character Instagram caption about a new fried chicken burger that’s launching at a restaurant on 27 April” and here’s the response we got: 

🚨 NEW MENU ITEM ALERT 🚨 Our latest creation, the mouth-watering Fried Chicken Burger, is launching on April 27th! Don’t miss out on the crispy, juicy goodness. 🍔🍗

If content creation is something you love to do, then ChatGPT can help you generate ideas. We asked ChatGPT to share a list of 5 marketing emails a restaurant could send over a Bank Holiday, and here’s the list we got:

  1. “Make the most of your long weekend with our Bank Holiday specials!” – Promote exclusive menu items or discounts for the holiday.
  2. “Join us for Bank Holiday brunch and bottomless mimosas!” – Highlight special brunch offerings and the option for bottomless drinks.
  3. “Looking for a relaxing Bank Holiday evening? Come dine with us!” – Encourage customers to unwind and enjoy a special dinner with friends or family.
  4. “Beat the Bank Holiday crowds – reserve your table today!” – Create a sense of urgency and encourage customers to book early.
  5. “Take a break from cooking this Bank Holiday and let us handle dinner!” – Emphasise the convenience of dining out and enjoying delicious food without the hassle of cooking.

While the subject lines might not align with your brand, you can use the ideas to create personalised content for your restaurant.

The limitations of artificial intelligence for content creation

If you’re using artificial intelligence technology like ChatGPT to create content for you, you need to be aware of its limitations. One of the main downfalls of ChatGPT is its factual accuracy, or lack thereof. ChatGPT has been known to create content that includes inaccurate information, so it’s vital that all content is reviewed, and fact-checked, before being published. AI is most powerful when it’s paired with an equal balance of human input and creativity. 

It’s also worth noting that ChatGPT doesn’t know your restaurant like you do, so it’s likely you’ll need to edit the content to give it that personal touch. Think of ChatGPT as an inspiring starter point, a springboard for easy creative innovation.

AI-powered kiosks

Another time-saving tool is AI-powered kiosks that let customers place their order on a digital screen. This efficient order and checkout process is fantastic for multi-location restaurants that have high footfall.

About 70% of consumers believe that automated technology and self-serve kiosks powered by AI, enhances their dining experience.

These digital kiosks often have upsell capabilities, suggesting sides and drinks that a customer might like to add to their order, which is another great opportunity to help your restaurant increase its revenue.

The role of AI in customer service

Customer service is a sector that embraces artificial intelligence through the form of chatbots. The chances are you’ve spoken to a chatbot on a website when you have a question for the business, and don’t want to go through email or phone.

A chatbot acts as a virtual assistant, and interacts with website visitors like a real human, responding with text or voice answers to questions. And for the restaurant industry, AI powered chatbots can be used to answer 90% of hotel hospitality queries, according to the PMS powerhouse, MEWS.  As well as answering customer queries, examples of how your restaurant can use a chatbot includes letting customers make reservations, check in on the progress of takeaway orders, or suggest menu items they might like to eat.

In early 2023, in both the US and Canada, OpenTable, the restaurant reservation service,  partnered with ChatGPT via a chatbot plugin . The chatbot aims to provide restaurant recommendations on the OpenTable app and website. So customers can search for things like ‘please find the best brunch spot to visit in New York’ or ‘what are the top-rated Mexican restaurants in Toronto’, and ChatGPT can share up-to-date restaurant information with customers and help them select a restaurant booking. This is another example of how artificial intelligence can be used within the restaurant industry to streamline customer service.

With the implementation of chatbots, employees can use their time more effectively to focus on the human side of customer service, engaging in face-to-face interactions as well as personalising service. 

Another benefit of integrating your restaurant’s website with a chatbot is that you can offer customer service 24/7, without asking employees to work overtime. As well as improving work-life balance for your employees, this always-on customer service approach reduces the amount of time a customer is left waiting, improving the overall experience for them, too.

Rest assured, the use of artificial intelligence isn’t about getting rid of employees, it’s about letting staff focus on the tasks that require more human interaction, and less time on the repetitive tasks. Within customer service, there will always be customers that want to chat to a real human, and more complex questions that need to be answered by expert employees. Finding the ideal balance allows restaurants and hospitality services to streamline their operations and optimise their performance most effectively.

Artificial intelligence: is it key to the future of the restaurant industry?

The benefits of artificial intelligence for the restaurant industry are clear, from the ability to reach new customers, to the reduction of food waste. With an efficient and modern ePOS, your restaurant can be at the forefront of technological innovation. Take a look at Lightspeed Restaurant right here.

News you care about. Tips you can use.

Everything your business needs to grow, delivered straight to your inbox.

More of this topic: Technology