why automation holds the key to surviving the labour shortage in 2023

The latest challenge for the UK hospitality sector – and there have been many in recent years - is the availability of labour. Data shows that 40% of hospitality businesses are struggling with staff shortages, an issue exacerbated by rising energy and operational costs. This has forced many to close their doors, and as we head further into 2023, support is needed to ensure we don’t lose even more venues.

Operators are looking for ways to plug the labour gaps, and technology is playing a key role in keeping the doors open.

Automation is becoming increasingly popular at bars and restaurants in the UK. Recent advancements have meant that jobs previously done by staff can now be fulfilled by online systems, AI, or even robots.

Although most of these advancements are recent, the idea of automation within hospitality isn’t a new one. Asian food chain Yo! Sushi has been delivering guest’s food to their tables using their 'kaiten' conveyor belt since 1997, and ‘kiosks’ have been a primary order taking channel in quick service restaurants for over a decade.

There is a “watch-out” though. While the consistency and cost-savings offered by technology are attractive, deploying poorly thought-through automation can detract from the customer experience brands want to deliver.

The hospitality industry survives and thrives by offering great customer experiences. Specifics vary by brand, but experiences must meet or exceed customer expectations if a repeat visit and positive review is to be earned. The food, service and environment must be consistently on-brand

The key for a brand is to identify what things make them famous, and then choose automation solutions that protect and accentuate these, rather than detract from them. Pre-, during and post-visit, technology should enhance customer experiences – and there should always be non-tech options for customers who are not ready to embrace technology.

Pre-visit, potential customers will use websites and applications that describe the benefits of visiting, share menu and location info, reviews, booking options, ways in which to tailor and enhance your visit.

During the visit, technology can handle queues, ordering and payment. It can consistently and accurately share important info about allergens, nutritional value, sustainability or lifestyle aspects to the food, your brand stories and values.

Post-visit, technology can sustain the conversation with your guests – thank them or reward them for their visit, get feedback, a review or a referral – make the next visit happen.

And across all of this, valuable data is captured to aid in the development of your brand.

Besides better customer experiences, automation should alleviate pressure on staff, removing functional tasks so they can focus on looking after guests. It should increase employee satisfaction.

In summary, when considering deployment of technology, operators must balance the value of systems and the humans in their business, so the brand magic is enhanced. No one wants to eat in a giant vending machine.

As a people-first software company, Adactus helps hospitality businesses deliver great customer experiences. We tailor websites, ordering, booking, customer data and other solutions to clients’ requirements, budget, and timelines. Developed for some of the biggest names in hospitality, our solutions are now available and configurable for small and mid-scaled operators ready to grow their business.