Future Guest Experience 2020

September 28 - 29, 2020

Las Vegas, NV

Here's How TGI Fridays is Using Artificial Intelligence and Big Data to Deliver Delicious Guest Experiences

brought to you by WBR Insights

Big data and artificial intelligence is the beating heart of any modern company, and TGI Fridays is using the technology to supercharge the guest experience for its diners.

TGI Fridays was founded by New Yorker Alan Stillman when he opened the first restaurant to bear the moniker in 1965. Inspired in part by his own desire to meet a romantic partner, he noticed a gap in the market for a hip, trendy place for 23 to 37-year-old adults to hang out. With just $10,000 startup money, he bought a bar and renamed it with a slogan he had learned during his student days at Bucknell University.

Today, TGI Fridays is a huge franchise operation with around 990 branded locations worldwide. The company is owned by the Sentinel Capital Partners and TriArtisan Capital Partners and was placed at #16 on Forbes' list of America's Best Chain Restaurants.

Changing Habits

The times are changing. Millennials aged between 18 and 33 are eating out more often than any generation before them. Millennials are more open-minded and curious when it comes to dining out and gravitate towards companies who can offer innovative technology-based guest experiences.

(Image source: aibusiness.com)

"Dining will always be centered on ensuring a guest is receiving a great food and service experience that matches their value expectations for a specific location," said Sherif Mityas, Chief Strategy Officer and Chief Information Officer at TGI Fridays. "However, the future of dining relies on restaurants of all flavors to understand how guests want to interact, as well as the value they place on those interactions to meet their needs in a convenient and frictionless fashion."

It is these interactions with the brand which has led TGI Fridays to work hard to implement new technologies into its business. And artificial intelligence and big data are in the vanguard of this initiative which will allow the company to offer new and innovative guest experiences to millennial diners.

Artificial Intelligence and Big Data

In a customer-facing sense, this initiative is being seen in the form of a new chatbot which will be available for smartphone users to interact with the TGI Fridays brand in new ways. Through the AI-powered bot, guests will be able to book tables, place orders, and even access location-based, personalized, time-limited discounts - like your own personal happy hour.

"AI gives us capabilities to expand the breadth and depth of our guest engagement by allowing the machine to learn and respond more quickly and accurately to each individual guest," said Mityas. "Imagine having a conversation with someone that took five minutes each time to respond to you - you'd quickly lose interest and move on. The AI capability through our bots gives us the capability to respond in real time, like a real person, to thousands of guests across multiple platforms at the same time. It's a clear win on all fronts."

However, this is not where TGI Fridays experiment with AI and big data ends. Aside from its customer-facing innovations, the company is also using the technology to improve the way its front-of-house and kitchen staff deliver great guest experiences. This is achieved by analyzing patterns and routines and suggesting more efficient ways for staff to serve hungry customers.

"By capturing multiple points of data from across the restaurant by server, we allow our AI technology to suggest specific actions that support greater guest checks, loyalty, and staff efficiency," said Mityas. "The beauty of AI is its ability to give our brand the opportunity to engage with guests across multiple platforms in real-time, with relevant content on a personalized level at scale. There would be no internal team large enough to handle all the ongoing guest interactions without significant delay and without using standard responses for every question or interaction."

Final Thoughts

Plenty of brands are using artificial intelligence and big data to change the ways guests interact with them. However, there are not many using the technology to change the way staff serve customers in-store, like TGI Fridays is.

The final word goes to Sherif Mityas.

"This is a marathon, not a sprint. There is a long path ahead and everyone in AI is frankly just leaving the starting gate. The ability to 'teach' both your internal organization and the AI itself is important in ensuring the organization and consumer base is aligned with the pace of activity that these initiatives can create. You can't have AI get too far ahead of your organizational capabilities to execute - otherwise, you're wasting your time and potentially damaging your brand in the eyes of your guests."

You can hear TGI Fridays' Senior Director of Marketing and Technology, Gail Seanor, speak at Future Guest Experiences 2018 this September in Las Vegas, NV.

Download the agenda today for more information and insights.