Once upon a time, the idea of restaurant robots seemed better suited to science fiction. Since technology had not yet advanced to the point where people thought robots in restaurants posed any danger to jobs, few hospitality professionals worried about them. A storm was brewing on the horizon, however; technology never stopped its advance, and then the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the adoption of automated systems to serve customers.
Today, there is a worry among some hospitality professionals that they will be pushed aside by automation. Their fears are warranted by the many examples of robots and other artificial intelligence in restaurants making an impact, but there’s more to the story. Advancements in technology need not displace humans, even as the use of restaurant robots is on the rise.
How robots in restaurants are changing the game
Let’s look at how robots are working jobs they’ve never worked before while simultaneously leaving room for humans to fill gaps no automaton will realistically be able to fill.
Automated food ordering at kiosks
One unmistakable way that robots are making an impact in the restaurant industry is in food ordering. You may have already noticed self-service kiosks on a visit to your favorite fast-food establishment; a few years ago, they weren’t nearly as common as they are now. The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the move to automated ordering kiosks, a trend that continues today.
While robots can help with ordering, they lack the human touch and intuition that takes customer experience to the next level. Is a machine going to notice that a customer is celebrating a special occasion and surprise them with dessert? Probably not. Can a kiosk sense someone getting impatient from their body language? Likely no. Can a screen adequately walk someone with dietary restrictions through special substitutions that can be made to an entree? Maybe, but only to a certain extent. Warm-blooded human beings will always be essential, but that doesn’t mean there’s not incredibly useful technology that can help them be even better at their jobs along the way.
Checking in and out at hotels
Hotel guests used to need to present themselves in the lobby upon arrival to check in and get their key, and later pay their bill and check out of their room at the end of their stay. Today, more hotels are experimenting with contactless check-in and check-out procedures. These systems can’t replace concierges and their personalized recommendations, but they certainly speed things up and make for a better guest experience.
Robotic food servers at hotels and airports
Robots in restaurants might still be off-putting for guests, but robotic food service at hotels makes increasing sense for guests and management alike. Robotic servers increase efficiency for those running a hotel, as they can deliver multiple meals to multiple hotel rooms while keeping them at the correct temperature. For guests, they can order at any time of day, and not worry about not being “presentable” enough when the food arrives.
While humans are still needed to prepare the meals, you can bet that you’ll see even more robots roaming hotel hallways in room service roles in the future. You can also count on seeing them at airports: In South Korea, robots are used to deliver food and drinks to passengers waiting for a flight; robots are already used there to help people check in and find their gates.
A more subtle way that robots are being used to revolutionize the hospitality industry is through the use of chatbots. From making reservations at a restaurant to booking hotels and flights, AI increases the efficiency of these processes, allowing humans to focus more on operational needs. Chatbots can help both restaurant owners and professionals work more efficiently and free up time to focus on other priorities.
Humans will always be essential workers
You might think that increasing reliance on automation will make human hospitality professionals redundant. As robots continue to take over roles, perhaps you worry that the future of human employment in the industry is in danger. While restaurant robots may be the wave of the future, humans will always be needed.
For example, for the foreseeable future, it is highly doubtful that any machine will ever be able to fully replace line cooks, head chefs, or a server whose charm keeps regulars coming back time and time again. Furthermore, many customers prefer interacting with a real human to the cold touch of a screen. Robots are novel and exciting, yes, but many people still have an aversion to welcoming them into their everyday rituals and interactions.
One way you can make modern technology work for you is to use it to find work! There are tech platforms and algorithms out there that can help you find great opportunities to use your skills and make a living with greater freedom and flexibility. Where does hospitality tech innovation do this the best? Look to Qwick, the professional platform at the heart of hospitality.
Make technology work for you with Qwick
Qwick helps hospitality industry freelancers find shifts when and where they need them. With the help of Qwick, it’s easy to connect with businesses in need of real humans, like you.
Thanks to Qwick, you can take advantage of the modern world’s conveniences to find work in hospitality, whenever you want. It’s easy to sign up for Qwick and have open shifts sent straight to your phone. From there, accept the ones you want to work and make your own schedule.
Want to give it a try? Embrace technological progress, and use Qwick to gain experience and pad your pockets. Sign up for Qwick today to see what opportunities await you.