Industry 4.0: Why digitalisation is the most important food industry trend

The term “Industry 4.0” is mostly associated with the manufacturing sector but what about the hospitality industry? Don’t the same challenges as digital enhancement, smart work environments, and efficient supply chains exist here? The clear answer is: Yes. The potential of the fourth industrial revolution for the hospitality and tourism industry is enormous and should not be underestimated. Digitalisation, and especially automation and hospitality AI, is the most important food industry innovation. Simply because it brings about what the industry needs most of all: more efficiency and better service.

The travel and hospitality industry is known as a people’s business. Hosts fulfil the wishes and needs of their guests. But in fact, this sector has been influenced by all the industrial revolutions more than any other. This began with the invention of the steam engine, which gave travel a massive boost. The second industrial revolution brought electricity which also had a major impact on the expansion of hospitality. Finally, since the 1990s, the expansion of information technologies and the internet caused a major radical change.

The internet has caused alienation between guest and host

The third industrial revolution has increased competition in the travel industry with more alternative accommodation options opening up for tourists. Think of AirBnB and third-party providers like Booking.com, Hotels.com, and TripAdvisor, which have gained a strong foothold in the industry.

 But what is convenient for guests becomes fatal for individual hotels. Travellers started to decide where to stay by comparing prices, star ratings, and online reviews instead of trusting their feelings or the opinion of their friends. Booking a trip has lost its emotionality. As a consequence, guests become alienated from their hosts. This may become fatal in an industry that benefits from returning guests. 

How to gain back customer loyalty?

Hotels need to differentiate their offering and image by consciously positioning themselves in a targeted manner to be better than their competition and to solidify relationships with their guests through outstanding services.

Ugo Mazza, General Manager at Hotel Tropis, stated that: “A four-star Hotel is now facing tougher competition, not only from other comparable quality hotels but with AirBnB it is potentially unlimited.” He also brings another aspect into play: “Hotels cannot secure anymore traditional safe margins, but need to compete for a much smaller piece of the pie. Efficiency becomes essential.”

Therefore, hotels need to find new ways to improve not only what generates revenue, but also the efficiency of what runs in the background. They need to ensure that the value created is maintained and not wasted more than budgeted.

But how can this be achieved? The study “Hospitality and leisure trends” as part of PwC’s annual Global CEO Survey explains this (external link: https://www.pwc.com/gx/en/ceo-survey/2019/Theme-assets/reports/hospitality-leisure-trends-report-2019.pdf) identifies three approaches: 

modernise the service offering: Wishes and habits of guests have changed dramatically. People demand services that make their lives easier and experiences they can’t get anywhere else. 

hire high-touch-oriented employees: the human factor in hospitality requires a more important role than ever before. They are responsible for the emotional side of the experience and the right team can bring a lot of enthusiasm and passion to take care of customers warmly and competently. Their contribution is also essential for the technology itself to provide its best support. 

implement the latest technology: To save on back-end management processes, there is no way around the use of modern technology. In the next paragraph, we will look at how digitalisation of the food industry contributes to more success. 

Industry 4.0: Why the food industry should not miss out on digitalisation

New technologies such as robotics, AI, or IoT prove that a company is moving with the times and also play a decisive role in building competitive advantages. Food industry digitalisation enables:

  • increased efficiency which is important for the survival in an industry with low margins;
  • reduced workload of employees which may be a problem when there is a shortage of skilled workers;
  • an improvement in service and the guest experience that enhances customer loyalty.

 Hotels investing in new technologies free up staff who will spend less time on data entry and paperwork and more time with guests. Automation and digitisation of tasks should not be an excuse to cut staff, it’s an opportunity to let them focus on what matters the most.

Let’s now explore the new food and beverage technology trends and innovations.

Trend 1: Automation saves time, effort, and money

No one likes repetitive tasks even if they are necessary. They tie up time, they are boring, and they keep employees from doing more important things that generate and sustain sales.

Automation in the form of software that achieves smarter working, speed, and efficiency is the solution here. A recent survey conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of Zapier shows a growing interest in automation.  For this purpose, around 1,200 employees were interviewed. Their experiences make it clear how high the potential is:

  • 96% of participants who use automation software at work benefit from it;
  • 43% state it helps them complete tasks faster;
  • 40% indicate such software helps them organise their work better;
  • 38% believe that using automation software improves the way they work overall;
  • 36 % admit that automation software helps them and their team focus on important tasks.

Imagine how much time and effort storage automation will save you and your staff! Learn more about how software solutions like Storate can help you improve your workflows while optimising your food and beverage costs !

Trend 2: Artificial intelligence turns data into practical solutions

AI makes a huge difference in food industry innovation. Every day, businesses generate huge amounts of data which most of the time remain unused. In the hospitality sector, for example, any segment of operations is affected: from guest information to inventory and billing to PAR values.

AI analyses key data points and assembles them into patterns by combining data from images, speech, videos, and texts. This facilitates data analysis and decision-making processes. AI can enhance CRM systems through reminder functions on specific occasions or tailored offers. It also offers great advantages in administration as well as in F&B management.

 Overall, AI algorithms can save money, improve service, and optimise operations.

 A practical example: the application of AI in storage management

One of the most time-consuming and opaque processes in the food industry in general, and in restaurants and hotels particularly, is inventory management. Everything is still based on pen and paper and no one can track consumption. This is not only annoying but also expensive and leads to food waste. 

Smart systems like the warehouse management solution from Storate track your inventory and consumption. They automatically inform you when your stock is running low or is about to expire. AI warehouse management will revolutionise the usual processes.

Conclusion: The potential that lies in the combination of technology and gastronomy is immense. It pays to watch and stay on the ball. Craft and skills will always remain important. But the future lies in bringing it in line with technology and its seemingly unlimited possibilities. 

Industry 4.0 can redefine the customer journey and the way we work. Let’s go for Hospitality 4.0 – a world in which digitalisation takes the burden off people so that hospitality leaders and their staff can concentrate fully on their guests.

How could that work? Book a call with us. We will show you how Storate can open up new possibilities.

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