How technology is moulding the hospitality business

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To a hospitality operator, a guest is akin to God and thus, investing in tools to deliver exceptional guest experiences makes infinite sense. And with hi-tech and one touch solutions promising to generate superior experiences, hotels are all out to embed technology– from their kitchens to table service.
“A number of new techniques have come into play in F&B – both for internal usage as well as from the customer interface point of view. For instance, many outlets have now resorted to presenting
their menus on an iPads rather than on traditional printed menus,” says Director F&B, Goa Marriott Resort & Spa, Rahul Korgaokar.
hospitality-business-2“For the guest, this is a more interactive format, which also allows for pictographic representation of dishes, leading to a ‘call to action’ stimulus for the guest. Guests can also select their menu items directly from the I-pad and the order gets delivered directly into the kitchen via the Wi-Fi network.”
While molecular gastronomy and sous vide cooking – both driven by technology-– are trending in F&B, technology has also eased F&B operations in a restaurant. Hand-held order pads and ear
console bar systems are no longer rarities in a hotel.
Restaurants Go Hi-Tech
The hospitality industry has adapted well to available technology. In restaurants, from menus being offered on tablets to innovative live stations using induction technology for banquet events, the F&B industry has clearly taken a giant leap. One of the most revolutionising smartphone applications in the hotel environment today, is an extension of the point-of-sale system in the F&B
Nowadays, it is common to see it being used as an order-taking device, offering a hands-on and cost-effective alternative to tablet PCs and traditional handheld POS devices.
Food & Beverage Director, Westin Chennai, Animesh Barat, concurs. “Use of mobile devices, interactive electronic menus, or even a self-operated beverage dispensing unit, have amazed the customers and got them more closer to F&B outlets that are more tech savvy. Even for the heart of house operations – use of new technology for food processing and food preparation has enhanced hotels performance and productivity,” he notes.
hospitality-business-3Director Food & Beverage, Sofitel Mumbai BKC, Shahrom Oshtori adds, “Restaurants have gone high tech with menu presentations on iPads, which is very appealing as menus are presented with stories of the dishes. The customer can see and understand exactly how the dish is going to come to him. Placing orders directly through an iPad is also an emerging trend in western markets which will soon make its way to India.  Reservation systems such as Respack help restaurants to maximise seating arrangements and generate more revenue. Applications such as Whatsapp can sell your venue just by sending pictures and details to a customer.”
Looking Forward
hospitality-business-4Food & Beverage is serious business for a hotel and thus no efforts are spared to make it profitable. Director Food and Beverage, Hyatt Regency Gurgaon Sanjay Patti says, “From our side, the
spotlight is even more on F&B in hotels as it is an important source of revenue. There have been many innovations that have helped offer better services in the outlets – from automated reservation systems like Respak, which not only stores all guest details and preferences but also records guests’ preferences such as food type, ingredients, seating preferences amongst others. Other than this, systems like Triton and Hotsauce help in handling guest complaints and communicate with them live. The live communication helps shorten the reaction time and help authorities in depth understanding of the underlying issues.”
And guests too obviously welcome this integration of technology in the F&B space. “Electronic wine dispensers, new trends in tap beers, equipment used for freezing liqueurs and cocktails and finally to electronic feedback systems. All these have been accepted positively by our guests in the restaurant and bar,” Barat informs.
Smart Kitchens
Kitchens too have undergone a makeover in Hotels and the equipment is technology driven as per the need of the hour. And suppliers are conversant with a hotel’s requirements and gladly comply with those demands. Interim Country Manager, Electrolux Professional India, T V Narasimhan says,
“Cooking has evolved into a form of art so also has kitchen equipment from typical cooking ranges, boiling pans and convection ovens to current state-of-art equipment incorporating aesthetic looks, digital controls, energy efficient, modular and streamlined, multiple application and usage from a single equipment.”
“At Electrolux, we believe in constant innovation in design and technology, keeping in mind the endusers needs. Our range of equipment is designed to improve time and labour usage and meet the operational demands of the modern catering operation,” he adds.
Electrolux Combi Ovens feature user friendly simple and clear control panels. Specially built-in features, provide consistency and maintain quality of end-product in the cooking process. It is not
only easy to use, but also easy to clean, as the automatic washing system is already included and is a standard feature of Electrolux Professional combi ovens.
The air-o-convect Touchline and Smart Steam crosswise ovens are the ideal machines for the Indian market, because these ovens support Tandoor Concept, a way to cook traditional Indian cuisine to perfection in less time and energy-efficiently.”
hospitality-business-6Apart from these, there are the Electrolux blast chillers and freezers range designed to make Chef’s work easier, more profitable and energy efficient by optimising the workflow in the kitchen, as they increase the shelf life of food and reduce waste. The innovative blast chillers and freezers are crafted to complete the integrated Cook & Chill process, a sustainable culinary technique very popular for large quantity cooking, especially banquet kitchens and commissaries.
Patti of Hyatt Regency Gurgaon avers, “Our kitchens are equipped with latest technology to provide the best of output. We have automated and precise temperature controlled ovens, perfected ice
cube machines at the bar, efficient blenders and slush machines to ensure high level of services.”
Time is Money
Technology has proved to be a big boon for hotels and guests alike.
Oshtori at Sofitel Mumbai BKC, offers an instance of technology making life simpler in hotels.
“Sous vide technology, blast chillers and the wine bottle vacuum are all machines that have been used in the kitchen for the common purpose of increasing the shelf life of perishable items. For instance, the sous vide is used to suck air out and ensure that the product is air-tight within the packaging, thereby guaranteeing a longer shelf life.”
Technology has even helped to serve safe food, by way of using cold gel baths for serving salads, seafood and cold meats Hotels feel the difference upon adopting technology; it enables them to be cost effective.
hospitality-business-5“Technological innovations in F&B operations provide high productivity and flexibility, which means saving space and improving ergonomics in kitchen, while higher flexibility reduces food wastage,” Narasimhan points out.
“For the owner, using Electrolux equipment is a great opportunity to save in costs. Being of European technology, there is a high saving in running cost: gas, electricity and water,” he adds.
Korgaokar agrees. “For the F&B outlet, such a format of presenting a menu allows for dynamic pricing, pricing my meal period, frequent change of menus, daily specials, and highlighting dishes that they want to push. It takes a fraction of the time to change a menu on an iPad as it takes in case of standard printed paper menus.”
Hotels opt only for the best, when it comes to technology. “Our hotel uses brands like Selva and Rationale for ovens, Alto Shaam for hot and cold food holding carts, Berto for hot plates and salamander, RINAC for cold rooms and refrigerators,” informs Barat of Westin Chennai.
Hyatt Regency Gurgaon relies on brands such as Hamilton, Hoshizaki, Alto sham, Hobart, MKN, Koldtech, Wood Stone Ovens, while Sofitel Mumbai BKC prefers Molteni Ovens – known as the Ferrari of ovens, Blue Star, Electrolux and Fosters.
Convenience is Key
Animesh Barat of Westin Chennai believes that technology in F&B operations is used primarily for convenience, and because it is interactive and trendy. “However, a right balance of technology and human touch to F&B operations makes a place a suave and savvy food outlet,” he notes.
Whatever be the brand or its nature, technology is clearly now an integral part of the F&B business, as both consumers and dynamics of the hospitality industry evolve. Hotels realise that to stay ahead in terms of creating newer and more interesting dining experiences and concepts, technology is a necessary investment. “Technology helps in a big way by reducing the time gap between the customer and the service provider,” Shahrom Oshtori sums up succinctly. And that is all matters in the hospitality industry.

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