Fourth – a hospitality operations platform, today revealed its top industry predictions for 2018. With mounting pressure on hospitality leaders to decrease operating costs, improve customer service, and ultimately, maximize revenue, Simon Bocca, COO, Fourth, predicts that 2018 will be a year marked by immense operational changes within restaurants of all sizes driven by the deployment of modern technologies.

“The pace of technological change over the last several years has been remarkable, but we’ve observed that hotels and restaurants still struggle to create an integrated tech framework that automates what can be automated, and provides reliable, comprehensive insights into key performance indicators across every division of the business,” said Bocca. “With food, drink and labor costs increasing rapidly, and competition both for the guest dollar and the best talent tightening, the smartest leaders will be looking to properly leverage their technology to support their business goals. They will be looking for 360-degree insights by integrating data silos into one central reporting hub, enabling data to be seen in context and thus rendered significantly more meaningful.”

Fourth’s 2018 predictions are as follows:

Machine learning will improve forecasting to improve the customer experience.

Machine learning automates and streamlines correct demand forecasting so the right inventory and labor are in the right place at the right time to meet demand. Legacy systems base demand forecast only on sales figures from comparable periods a week, month or year ago. However, new technology developments map past sales performance to local weather and local events, like sporting games or roadwork, to provide more accurate forecasts and help restaurant operators ensure they are adequately staffed and able to give guests the best experience.

Sustainable business practices will become a priority.

Given a renewed focus on a healthy environment, 2018 will see customers put unprecedented levels of pressure on businesses to improve sustainability efforts. Consumers will want to better understand how their favorite restaurants and hotels are reducing food waste, food miles and supporting local growers and producers.

Restaurants and hotels will become more accommodating of customers with food sensitivities and allergies.

Approximately 15 million Americans have food allergies, and even more have dietary restrictions, so restaurant operators will begin better accommodating their guests’ needs for accurate nutritional and allergen information, and dishes that cater to those with dietary restrictions. More restaurants will start outlining potential allergens on the menu, and operators at establishments of all sizes will need to share information accurately and reliably for greater customer loyalty and trust.

Security concerns will spur action.

As data breaches increase in frequency, businesses will become more proactive about customer and personal data security. 2018 will be the year of adopting identity authentication technologies, which will be central to ensuring business data is better protected.