One of the current trends is to take away the waiter and replace he or she with an iPad as an ordering alternative. This will inevitable reduce headcount and save costs in the long run.
Obviously, there will be an initial investment in the technology like iPads, but a lot of food owners are willing to do so in order to offset the labor overheads.
Personally, I think this is wrong and should not be taken as a convention in the near future. Whether it is a small cafe or bistro, or a fine dining experience, part of the joy of dining out is to have that human interaction that defines how good a service rating is garnered from each establishment.
Taking away that human interaction and reduce the ordering process to looking at a screen to decide what goes into your stomach is in a word, cold. Sure, it may be faster and automation can lead to faster turnaround, but there are some things in life that deserves a human touch. And dining is one of them.
That is why I find techie biz hotels that has automated check in a kind of robotic experience, and sadly loses the warm feeling of hospitality. If everything can be automated, then the experience will invariably suffer in the long run.
Do not get me wrong, as anyone who knows me know that I am a big advocate of technologies like the iPad. But I believe in using gadgets like the iPad to create amazing art and products with a tenth of the resources that was possible, say 10 years back.
But when we automate soft services that have been a cornerstone of dining and hospitality for decades and decades, I think it is going down the wrong road. More importantly, we need the human element to preserve jobs too.
Too often, large corporations are more akin to achieve a better looking bottom line at the expense of HR and jobs. This is simply wrong. People run businesses to make money, sure, but businesses also help to create jobs, not eradicate them.
So, for those food establishments who have been tempted to use technology to reduce business costs, use them to increase productivity. But please, do not use it to reduce the human factor and worse, cut jobs.
As is, I see Toast Box has already converted to customers collecting food on their own using a sensor as opposed to a staff bringing the toasts to the table. I certainly hope this is not the trend.
Keep the waiters and continue to get your diners to talk to your staff when ordering, so they can ask and interact and have that complete dining experience. Keep the iPads for other uses.