This series of articles has looked at various Applied Business Projects currently taking place and will continue to showcase the latest collaborations between Glion students and organizations. In this latest piece, we look at how five students are collaborating to help hospitality group D&D London prepare for an AI-led restaurant sector.

The future is served

With over 30 restaurants around the world and an award-winning hotel, D&D London is passionate about legacies. Whether it’s the story behind one of their buildings or the future they’ll leave for the next generation, founders Des Gunewardena and David Loewi have created a conscious company. A big part of this ‘awareness’ is understanding the changing nature of the restaurant industry, which, right now, means the potential of AI and automation.

To help uncover the possibilities, D&D London are working with an international group of Glion students on a research project – Periklis is from Greece, Alexandra from Russia, Phuc Lam from Vietnam, Astrid from Sweden and Ismail from Morocco.

Jaimie Stewart, Head of Learning & Development at D&D London commented on the value of a global viewpoint: “The great thing about Glion is that you get a really big cultural mix. You get people from all over the world and they can bring different cultural perspectives to the projects which can give it a really unique insight.”

Informing real business decisions

The students have been tasked with discovering how AI could help solve some of the issues in the food and service industry. D&D London are not looking for predictions, instead they left the brief open to be guided by the research. As a result, the students have chosen to focus on how AI could help manage employees and improve working conditions, environments and motivation levels.

The secondary research is already done, so they are now setting more developed milestones and adapting the findings for the company. This process will lead to recommendations on which D&D London can base their future strategy.

Using their BBA research skills

Far from being the technology of the future, the students found that many processes in the hospitality industry are already using AI, especially in recruitment. Using research methods learned in the classroom, the students also discovered a resistance to AI in some countries and a reluctance to pay for the implementation of smart automation.

One concern raised throughout the research phase was security, with businesses seeing data and customer safety as the biggest challenge when rolling out AI technology.

Developing their own opinions

After conducting extensive research and hearing many of the cases for and against the use of AI, the students have formed their own opinions on whether it is a good or bad thing.

“When asked about AI, people always think robots. However, AI is not only that. It is also your smartwatch and your smartphone in certain ways. While doing our initial research, we understood that many people do not know what AI really means”, said Periklis.

Astrid cannot see a future without AI, but is conscious of the security risks: “AI is something that is needed, it is the future. Obviously, it should be used only in certain areas and it should not go too far to jeopardise anyone’s security or pleasure”.

With reference to D&D London, she added: “We need to have AI as it is very useful for productivity, but we need to be careful not to lose a personal and human touch that the company already has. There must be a good balance”.

For Alexandra, resisting AI is futile: “AI is already here and we need to accept it and get used to it. It is not smart to ignore it”.

Working together as a team

The ABP is a true team project, with students and Jaimie constantly in communication, which they have found invaluable. His full support and the availability of direct and open conversations have led to some insightful realisations for both sides. Jaimie really appreciates that the students have a new point of view and a different approach to those already working in the industry.

Splitting the work between the group has proven difficult for the students as the different parts of the project are very interconnected. But they have found solutions to manage this, such as dividing the research into different parts and working on them in couples. “We had certain points to research to cover the wide range of information, so we separated the work at the beginning”, said Periklis.

Needless to say, all five students have had lots of support and guidance from their tutor, Susan Landtwing. As the group said, she is putting a “positive pressure” on them.

Keep an eye on the blog for news about the D&D London collaboration, and see how more Glion students are helping real-world companies in our other Applied Business Project stories:

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About the author

Glion Institute of Higher Education
Glion Institute of Higher Education is a private Swiss institution offering bachelor’s and master’s degrees in hospitality, luxury and event management to an international student body across three campuses in Switzerland and London, UK.
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