Amazon's Alexa has already proven its value to consumers at home, but integrating voice technology into front of house restaurant operations could be a true time-saver for busy staff.
— Kristen Hawley
New York-based hospitality technology company SevenRooms is harnessing the power of voice. The company announced an investment from Amazon’s Alexa Fund, earmarked to build an Alexa skill for restaurant operations.
SevenRooms founder and CEO, Joel Montaniel, explained his company’s voice-first approach here. “It’s not necessarily voice taking over everything, but voice being the preferred kind of channel for getting things done,” he said. “Voice-powered technology is already impacting every industry, and continues to play a central role in the daily lives of consumers and the businesses they interact with.”
SevenRooms plans to build an Alexa skill that enables restaurant operators to use voice commands during service, accessing information like diner profiles and preferences, but also streamlining table service, reminding staff to send extra ketchup to a table or replacing a dropped fork.
SevenRooms will have its own dedicated staff working on the skill, working closely with Amazon’s team on a 2019 release. Montaniel said he hopes to make the Alexa skill part of SevenRooms’ core offering to restaurant customers.
Benefits of Voice Technology
According to Montaniel, many restaurant operators have been reluctant to turn to technology for fear of alienating a guest. “They’re worried the staff would be staring at an iPad and not making eye contact with the guest when the guest walked in,” he said. “Even with the old reservation books that you can imagine restaurants using 50 years ago, and now iPads, someone has to look down to access information. Voice eliminates the interface — it becomes the interface.”
Voice has certainly shown a lot of promise in the hospitality industry, from restaurants to travel, and savvy brands are already capitalizing on its potential. Amazon offers plenty of consumer-facing restaurant-related Alexa skills: an OpenTable skill for making reservations and Grubhub, Seamless, and Amazon Restaurants skills for ordering delivery. Restaurant brans have skills too, you can order Domino’s and Wingstop, or add yourself to the waitlist at Texas Roadhouse and TGI Friday’s, among others.
“By deploying [SevenRooms’] technology, restaurant operators can make smarter decisions on marketing, guest relationship management, staffing, and more, and ultimately present dining guests with a more enjoyable experience,” said Paul Bernard, director of the Alexa Fund at Amazon in a statement.