Casual dining chains counter sagging sales with virtual assistants, AI

Dine Brands, which operates IHOP and Applebees, and TGI Fridays are turning to Google virtual assistant software and other artificial intelligence and machine learning tools to improve and personalize service for their customers.

Casual dining chains counter sagging sales with virtual assistants, AI
MetamorWorks / Getty Images

Casual dining chains are leaving few technology stones unturned in the push to jumpstart their ailing businesses. Now on the menu: anything from ordering pancakes via virtual assistants to virtual bartenders that tailor cocktails using a splash of artificial intelligence (AI).

Dine Brands Global, owner of U.S. restaurant brands IHOP and Applebees, is testing technologies that enable consumers to order from their homes by speaking to Google Assistant software or from their cars via General Motors’ and Chevy’s head units. Meanwhile, TGI Fridays is using AI and machine learning (ML) to help mix drinks and target consumers with highly personalized offers.

These digital-based moves come as sales across most longstanding U.S.-based casual dining chains have softened over the past decade, thanks to shifting consumer preferences for fast-casual dining and newer, novel chains and independents.

OK, Google: Order IHOP

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