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Welsh Restaurant Invests in Artificial Intelligence


A restaurant in Cardiff has become the first in Wales to embrace the power of artificial intelligence – meaning your table-side conversation could be about to get a whole lot more futuristic, as BBQ Babs the ‘Haus’ Chatbot helps you have fun, win and spend loyalty points.

The Smoke Haus, a Wales-owned restaurant brand that specialises in slow-cooked barbecued meats, has launched the innovation at its Cardiff restaurant, located on Mary Ann Street near the Motorpoint Arena. It plans to roll out BBQ Babs to its other premises in Swansea and Birmingham later this year.

Customers will be able to ask BBQ Babs a range of questions from the menu, and even choose the music in the restaurant by chatting with the ‘Bot’. They will also be rewarded with loyalty points and discounts the more they engage with BBQ Babs or when they recommend people who join the programme.

And the conversation need not end when the meal is over. Customers can continue to engage with BBQ Babs at any time – a useful tool for booking tables and checking on changes to the menu or special offers ahead of their next meal out.

The BBQ Babs chatbot will exists on their smart phone. Customers of the restaurant will be asked to scan a special code, this will then bring BBQ Babs to life in their ‘Messenger App’. That means they can have direct correspondence with the restaurant’s front of house robot anytime, anywhere.

BBQ Babs was developed specifically for the Smoke Haus by Cardiff software development partnership The Social Code, a joint venture between Glad People and Arriba Systems. Chatbots are software programmes, which can include artificial intelligent components, designed to interact with people over messaging apps such as, Facebook Messenger, Twitter Direct Message, Slack, Kik, Telegram and WeChat.

Mark Power, managing director of the Smoke Haus, said:

“We already have some great staff and our personal touch will very much remain as a business, but BBQ Babs will bring an extra dimension to our offering at the Smoke Haus. We are delighted with the way this has been embraced by our customers so far. For us as a business, it brings us closer to our customers at all times and that will be fantastic for them and us.

“The fantastic thing about BBQ Babs is, because BBQ Babs is powered by artificial intelligence, she is also learning all the time. That means that she will get to know the needs and wishes of customers more and more intimately as time goes on giving our customers an even better and more bespoke service as we look to build a truly memorable experience.”

Jon Gibbs, director of Arriba Systems, added:

“We are delighted to work with Mark and deliver the best service for his customers. Customer behaviour has changed – smart phones dominate how we communicate, with consumers demanding simple to use technology without the need of user browsers or download dedicated apps. With Messenger’s huge smart phone distribution, it makes the perfect choice for consumer facing businesses looking to increase customer engagement, customer satisfaction or sales.

“As consumer needs change, businesses much change too. Take our customer loyalty solution.  No one can expect customers to keep a physical loyalty card. We developed BBQ Babs because it resides on Facebook Messenger, so people don’t need to download anything or even register. Just scan a code and you start earning points. Customers’ smart phones are always present.

“This year we are planning to allow people to order their meals from the Chatbot and make a table reservation. Powered by “Whizzy” our Artificial Intelligence module, the technology will allow consumers to interact in a natural language format enabling increased self service and speed of transaction.

“The chatbot solution combines commercial benefits with a fun, friendly and engaging interface for consumers.”

Business News Wales