The hospitality industry has been embracing technology throughout the rise of the digital age. After all, these tools can help support everything from more effective marketing campaigns to greater operational efficiency. Nevertheless, every so often tech innovations emerge that genuinely revolutionize how businesses in the sector function. Artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT) are two examples of this in the current landscape.

Let’s take a moment to explore some of the ways these tools — alongside a few other innovations — are making a difference to the sector. What are the practical uses for them and how can your business make the most of them?

Artificial Intelligence

AI has become a prevalent topic for consideration across a range of industries. However, given how human-centric hospitality can be, some may assume that there’s not much of a place for machine-led tools. Yet, AI has the potential to both bolster the human interactions of the industry and support the strategic decision-making that goes on behind the scenes,

Perhaps the best place to start is with personalization. Whether they’re visiting a restaurant, a hotel, or an event, customers tend to appreciate the personal touch. In fact, one study found that 80 percent of consumers surveyed were more likely to make a purchase if the brand provided a more personalized experience. AI analytics platforms can review guests’ past interactions with your brand alongside wider industry demographic information to identify the most likely specific needs and preferences of individual customers. Your business can then provide them with personalized recommendations tailored to their tastes or discount codes aligned with their interests.

In addition, chatbots are quickly becoming an impactful tool in hospitality. While your staff members may not be available around the clock to answer queries or provide information, chatbots can be. Importantly, advances in conversational AI make it more practical for your company to build bots that are more aligned with the brand voice and programmed with more complex data sets to answer a range of questions. This tool can be an impactful first line of customer service that handles the basic queries and filters only those in need of additional attention through to human representatives to handle.

That said, the decision to use such platforms shouldn’t be made on a purely practical basis. It’s vital to gain a good understanding of the ethical implications of AI in order to ensure you’re making choices in the best interests of your business, consumers, staff, and the wider community. For instance, AI systems may be biased based on the prejudices of their programmers, which may result in discriminatory decisions being made. Some AI systems that learn from social media or the wider internet may inadvertently spread misinformation on your behalf via your chatbots.

Navigating such issues is challenging. It’s vital to set guidelines and limitations on the use of AI to ensure these systems comply with your ethical standards. Work closely with programmers that understand how biases become present and who put in place practices to mitigate these.

The Internet of Things

Whether or not you’re familiar with the term, the Internet of Things (IoT) has become closely integrated into the contemporary way of life. This refers to the ecosystem or connected devices that collect and share data on various aspects of the location they’re contained in. When connected to software or mobile applications, devices in the IoT can support enhanced guest convenience and boost operational health and safety, among other advantages.

Alongside tools such as alternative proteins and increased use of fermentation, the IoT is considered to be among the key innovations that impact quality standards in the food industry. For restaurants and other food service operations, sensors in the IoT can keep track of inventory and the environmental conditions of storage areas in which food is kept. This helps to ensure the optimal safety of ingredients before they make their way to the customer. Sensors in the IoT can also be present in refrigerators to ensure the temperature of the space is consistent with the specific needs of the foodstuffs being stored.

For hotels, the IoT is helping to transform guest experiences. Sensors throughout rooms can enable guests to take greater control over atmospheric conditions via a smartphone application. They can set parameters for when heating or air conditioning should be activated, or arrange for smart lights to gradually turn on in response to the natural light ebbing away each evening. In some instances, you might arrange for sensors to activate a personalized music playlist when a guest walks into the room. In essence, the presence of this smart technology gives a little extra push to the convenience and comfort your guests experience.

Emerging tech innovations

As the hospitality industry continues to embrace technology, there are innovations that don’t necessarily fall under the AI or IoT umbrellas. Some of these other tools may use components of either or both but also have alternative aspects. Nevertheless, these emerging innovations are proving to be important for the hospitality sector and are well worth examining.

Some of the key emerging technologies that are transforming the food industry include tools designed to improve efficiency. For instance, blockchain can be used to ensure secure transactions with suppliers, which also supports more accurate record-keeping on the age and status of ingredients in the inventory. In addition, insurtech platforms can track the potential risk factors of a business in real-time. This helps to make certain that restaurants and producers have sufficient insurance in place to mitigate the impact of lawsuits, worker compensation claims, and emergencies.

Meanwhile, robotics is also starting to find its way into hotels and event spaces. Often driven by AI software and sensors in the IoT, these automated machines can either independently attend to tasks or support human workers in hazardous activities. For instance, robotic concierges can help with check-ins or guest questions during busy periods or during the night. Robots are also available that vacuum rooms, spray disinfectants, and emit ultraviolet C-wavelength (UV-C) light. This can minimize staff exposure to potentially hazardous germs in rooms.


The hospitality industry has been embracing AI and IoT over the past several years. AI can support more personalized and efficient guest experiences, but it’s important to be mindful of the ethical implications. The IoT has been particularly effective in ensuring food safety and giving guests more control over hotel room environments. In addition, tools and robots are enabling businesses to safeguard their companies and staff.

However, it’s important to remember that there are constant developments in these tools. It’s important for hospitality businesses to keep abreast of these. This isn’t simply a way to keep a competitive edge. Rather, it also enables your company to maintain an awareness of the risks and challenges you need to address.

Beau Peters is a creative professional with a lifetime of experience in service and care. As a manager, he’s learned a slew of tricks of the trade that he enjoys sharing with others who have the same passion and dedication that he brings to his work. When he is not writing, he enjoys reading and trying new things.

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How digital technologies are shaping the future