August 20, 2019

New Tech’s Impact on the Catering & Hospitality Sector

Technology is moving at breakneck speed. From the smart devices in our pockets and in our homes to the way we buy groceries, communicate, do business, and travel, it is having a huge impact on the way we live our lives.

Similarly, tech is disrupting the industry. The use of automation and robotics, virtual and augmented reality, and the implementation of IoT (internet of things) and big data, for example, are helping to optimize and streamline operations, add tangible value, improve capabilities, and enhance the customer’s experience.

Smarter Mats” (CC BY 2.0) by tomemrich

The tech that opens doors

In the catering and hospitality industry, the influence of innovative technology and new methods of working have had a positive effect on such things as training, scheduling, inventory, food safety, and customer relations.


In hotels, for example, customers will have noticed this impact over the last few years. The use of electronic cards has increasingly seen the end of the physical metal key. However, some establishments are now going one step further. Utilizing NFC technology, a guest’s mobile device is scanned to allow entry into the room. This is a further extension to automated and remote check-ins, smart room service, and revolutionizing the customer experience through fixed-mobile convergence.

Can I take your order?

The catering industry is no different. Many people will walk into McDonald’s and interact with computer screens instead of people taking their orders. Similarly, smartphone apps have overtaken phoning for a takeaway. Kitchens have also enhanced operations through Bluetooth temperature sensors, optimized schedule platforms, automated purchasing, and virtual reality training systems.

Self-Service-Kiosk in einem McDonald’s i” (CC BY 2.0) by marcoverch

Elsewhere, IoT offers the potential for a fridge, for instance, to recognize stock levels and re-order items when necessary or equipment management tools to aid energy efficiency and reduce bills.

Whether it’s the way people are ordering their meals in a restaurant to closing their hotel room curtains via their mobile while being on the other side of town, new technology is not only changing the experience but affecting expectation too. This is influencing a business’ competitiveness, the way it looks to invest, and awareness of risk factors, especially in regards to guest-facing connected devices.

Find shelter from the tech storm

This inevitably leads to new challenges within the industry. Customers will be well aware of notable cyber attacks on big companies and corporations. For example, Marriott International’s revelation of a data breach in 2018 was particularly damaging for the brand. However, damages in this area can be mitigated, providing traditional protection measures such as liability business insurance are utilized by companies to create important safeguards against the risks they face.

But in the tech-rich environment, complimentary insurance, such that which protects against the vulnerabilities of connected technology, is also vital to consider as new techniques are implemented. Customer satisfaction is determined by their peace of mind, which can be improved by factors such as their data being secure and their rooms being safely locked.

While the benefits of being able to check-in remotely or via an automated system are advantageous (offering flexibility and ease for the guest and limiting the costs of personnel for the business), there are obvious concerns around such things as ransomware infecting systems causing disruption or data breaches. Digital door locks might even be hacked, leading to physical theft or other crimes.

That’s why there is an increased emphasis on having the relevant protections in place. The Marriott data breach is a case study for the sector in how things can go wrong, but it also provides a blueprint for risk and the measures that can be taken to limit them. As such, evolving IT safeguards are part of this tech revolution. Firewalls, tokenization, and encryption are all part of a best practice approach.

The impact of new tech on the catering and hospitality sector is profound. A customer base increasingly relying on such convenience is placing emphasis on implementation, ease-of-access, and innovation. Be that through communication, buying goods, accessing public transport or, as identified here, eating in a restaurant, and staying in a hotel. Certainly, by embracing new technology – and the challenges it brings – comes an industry willing and eager to thrive from it.

About the author 

Anu Balam

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