It’s nice to see after 2 years of being couped up that people are involved in the hospitality industry again. According to Wikipedia, “The hospitality industry is a broad category of fields within the service industry that includes lodging, food and drink service, event planning, theme parks, travel and tourism. It includes hotels, tourism agencies, restaurants and bars.” No industry was hit harder during the pandemic than the hospitality industry. Restaurants are now open with mask requirements a thing of the past. But now they have a different problem – a staffing shortage.

The future of restaurants

In the beginning mom and dad would go out with the kids to a restaurant and sit down to enjoy a meal. Then both parents started working and they told restaurants they didn’t have time to sit down for a meal. So restaurants said they would cook the food and hand to them out the window. The mom and dad were both working 2 jobs and said they didn’t even have time to drive to the restaurant to pick up the food. So restaurants said they would cook the food and deliver it to them. Now food trucks bring the whole restaurant to you. So, what is the future of restaurants?

We’ve discovered in the past 2 years that there is no one size fits all as far as customers go. Restaurants need an omnichannel approach now. That includes online, offline, dine-in, drive-through, delivery and pickup. They want to order in different ways too. In-person, self-serve ordering, your own ordering hub online, straight from your social accounts or with a third-party ordering app. All orders go through an interconnected platform. With online, you can keep up with your customers and send out special deals and loyalty points. Omnichannel tools include inventory management, kitchen display systems, and customer insights. No matter how someone orders the order goes straight to the kitchen.

Hospitality staffing issues

According to the National Restaurant Association “More than 8 million restaurant employees were laid off or furloughed, and the industry lost $280 billion in sales during the first 13 months of the pandemic.”

Restaurants and bars are booming again, but many are saying staffing problems are an issue. This is causing some to close early with reduced hours. As a creativity speaker I speak on unique ways to recruit and retain employees when you have a limited budget.

Staffing issues will speed up AI, which has already been talked about. Repetitive jobs like making french fries is already being done by Flippy 2 — a robot arm that works the fryer at fast-food restaurants. Chains such as White Castle and Chipotle are already using them. The “Chippy” robot cooks and seasons the chips at Chipotles according to their exact recipe.

Competition in the robotics industry is bringing the prices down, which used to be prohibitive. Those entry-level jobs which used to go to high school students will soon be replaced by robots such as Chippy.

Employment in hospitality is a challenge

Data from The National Restaurant Association states that 4 in 5 restaurant operators are understaffed. And overall employment in the leisure and hospitality category has been the most challenging since the pandemic. This is according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The restaurant of the future may look like Mezli, located in San Francisco. It’s a totally automated restaurant similar in style to the old automats. The difference is that Mezli has no humans in the background. Humans do cook the food offsite and drop it off at the little pod building before they open up. Customers order from a kiosk and the food is heated up.

Robots aren’t just taking over the restaurant, they are also going to be taking over delivery of the food. We already have robots such as Coco, the 50 pound food delivery robots that use GPS. Uber Eats is testing robot delivery. Each robot has its own name, which is how you identify them.

The future of bars

Bars were hit quite hard during Covid. Over 110,000 bars and restaurants closed in 2020. As things have opened up, safety is still a priority. More contactless technology is being used for menus and cashless payment. The use of outdoor spaces that was required during the pandemic will continue. Some are remodeling a rooftop or carving out space in an alley. The use of heat lamps makes that easier even in colder weather.

Bartenders are expanding their reach by going on social media with customized how-to videos. This is being expanded into live in-person classes on mixology. Celebrity bartenders are becoming more popular and are able to drive customers to their establishment. As someone who was a bartender years ago, it’s a good way to make a living, especially if you tend to be a social person. I always came up with my own creative customized drinks that were requested by customers.

Go where everyone knows your name

Customers like showing their support for their favorite bars. More sophisticated bar merchandise, like branded barware tools are now being sold. It’s not only a revenue generator, but it also builds brand loyalty and a sense of community.

My own product (the wrist water bottle) is sold in the alcohol industry. Originally invented to be a wrist water bottle for runners, it’s now sold at music festivals, Hash House Harrier events, and pub crawls. Alcohol companies put their logos on them and bottles are filled up at the bar with their brand.

Travel and Tourism

People are traveling again. In fact the term “revenge travel” became a thing after everything started opening up from Covid. Vaccine requirements were lifted around the world and we just wanted to attack our bucket lists with a vengeance. I’m guilty of the same thing.

After not having a vacation in 17 years I was way overdue anyway. I had a trip to Europe planned and paid for right before the world shut down. Once it opened up I made sure I was going to go this time. I took a 2-week long trip to Ireland and toured the countryside. I would normally do work even on a vacation. Not this time. I didn’t even think about work. I just reveled in the beauty of the lush, green rolling hills and majestic old castles. Listened to traditional Irish music and stayed on sheep farms while we traveled around on a bus.

Tourism, as we think of it today, dates back as far as medieval Italy. Petrarch, one of the earliest humanists, wrote about traveling for pleasure in 1336. He wrote about how he climbed to the top of Mount Ventoux just for fun. He said that his climb was “an allegory of aspiration toward a better life”. Anyone who enjoys travel just for the fun of it knows what that means.

The Grand Tour

Travel writer Richard Lassels coined the term ‘Grand Tour’ and used it in his guidebook “The Voyage of Italy”. It described young lords who traveled abroad to increase their knowledge of art. Young nobles in Europe would travel around Europe learning as much as they could about art, history, and cultural heritage in different countries. They considered it part of their education. The idea spread to other parts of the world by the 18th century. It was still mainly the wealthier who were traveling for pleasure. They would be chaperoned by a paid tutor.

Thomas Cook, an English innovator, was known as the inventor of modern tourism. In 1841 he arranged the first excursion train in England between Leicester and Loughborough. Several years later he led his first Grand Tour of Europe. Eventually the Grand Tour expanded to larger numbers of people rather than just the wealthy. Artists and designers also took to traveling for pleasure.

Thomas Cook started the travel agency industry. For arranging rail excursion tickets he was paid a percentage. He arranged tours to Italy, Egypt, Switzerland and the US. He was able to offer prices that were below the advertised rate because he bought large numbers of tickets from the railroads. Now online services such as and Trusted Tours and Attractions allow us to cut out the middleman.

Theme park innovation

Theme parks of the future will continue to excite and entertain us. Amusement park rides are stretching the imagination of what’s possible.

From the time you enter the park, fingerprint and face recognition will be used in theme park entry systems. The future may even include electronic tattoos to offer faster and more secure entry. To help with increasing staffing shortages robots may be “hired” as park guides and even entertainers.

The introduction of “Active Skin” in the future will allow us to experience what it’s like to have the strength of a superhero. New experiences will be designed to sharpen our senses.

3-D and virtual experiences

Virtual reality and augmented reality will take your theme park experience to the next level and become even more intense! Virtual Reality will allow guests to experience the 3D visuals used in real rides before we get to the park.

A VR-enhanced coaster called the Great Lego Race at the LEGO Land in FL enables riders to surf waves, soar over a cliff and smash through walls. Augmented technology will be used in rollercoasters to blend visual effects into real work rides enhancing the experience.Virtual safaris will become much more life-like and interactive.

For Star Wars fans a brand new VR experience just opened up at Downtown Disney. Fans can enter a galaxy far, far away, complete with scents and vibrations to make things even more real.

The Drop of Doom is already the world’s fastest and tallest drop tower rides. If that’s not scary enough for you, now you can experience it with virtual reality headsets while falling 400 feet at speeds of up to 85 miles an hour.

The future of hospitality

Airbnb disrupted the hotel industry, but it didn’t eliminate it. What will the future of hospitality be? Certainly AI and digital will be a part of it. We’re already able to interact with apps to book our travel plans. That will increase as we will be able to do more from our phones.

I travel mostly for business, but I also would like information about local things to do or nearby restaurants. It looks like travelers will soon be able to get more info on local things to do through our Smart TVs. Hoteliers will use virtual reality to show their customers local tourist attractions and restaurants. This looks like a great way for businesses to advertise to their target customers. I’m surprised this isn’t used everywhere. I usually just have to ask the front desk where to eat or what things are interesting close by.  They usually don’t know. This would be a great way for hotel guests to search for themselves easily.

In the future robots will be able to run a huge chunk of the hospitality industry. The Henna na hotel in Japan is already run almost exclusively by robots.

Robot bartender

As a former bartender, I’m a little sad to see real people replaced with a robot like Adam. But Adam will work 24/7 without a break and needs no healthcare insurance. He can work multiple jobs like bartender, barista and chef. He can handle a fast-paced environment with precision. So no more overpoured drinks.

I do have questions though. Can he customize drinks? Can he tell jokes? And what will he do with the tips he makes?

i was pretty confident a real bartender couldn’t possibly be replaced by a robot. After all, the social aspect is a very important part of a bartender’s job. But then I saw that researchers at Italy’s University of Naples Federico II are designing a bartending robot called BRILLO. BRILLO can, not only make a perfect cocktail, but also remember your favorite drink, have a conversation with you, and even tell you jokes. Bartenders – time to up your game!

Intellectual property in hospitality

“In the last three years alone, there have been over 15,000 patents filed and granted in the travel & tourism industry”, according to GlobalData’s report on virtual reality in Travel: Virtual touring interfaces. According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which uses over 21,000 patents to analyze innovation trends for the travel & tourism industry, “there are 20+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.”

There is a famous saying “You don’t have to be rich to travel, traveling itself makes you rich.” Today you don’t have to be wealthy to travel the world. You just have to be more creative.