Over the past few years the CES trade show has become a familiar post-holidays pilgrimage for many of the country's biggest marketers. They see the event as a way to get a sneak peek at the latest tech gadgets and technologies that can help them engage with their customers. This year marketing executives from companies such as Coca-Cola, Unilever, Johnson & Johnson, Campbell Soup and PepsiCo Inc. made their way to Las Vegas for the gathering. The convention was jam-packed with everything from self-driving cars to robots that play chess to Procter & Gamble's air-freshener spray that can connect with Alphabet Inc.'s Nest home to automatically release pleasant scents in the home. But there was one category that seemed to especially win over marketers: virtual assistants.
Editor's Note: Tech Tracker looks at different technologies that are disrupting the industry and changing the way restaurants operate and interact with customers. Through a partnership with online reservation platform Resy, several critically acclaimed and buzzworthy restaurants across the country are hosting "Off Menu Week" throughout the year starting in late February. Off Menu Week was designed as an alternative to traditional restaurant weeks, which occur in various cities throughout the year. Off Menu Week, by contrast, celebrates experimentation and risk. "As diners, we crave connection to the creative people behind our favorite restaurants. We thought, let's throw out the dated premise of restaurant week and bring to life a program that's fundamentally about that connection and creativity," Resy co-founder and CEO Ben Leventhal said in a statement.
Many of the seminal papers in preference handling have used food preferences as motivating examples for their work. As foodies, the authors find this particularly motivating. While we think that there is both research and commercial potential in preference-based software for restaurants, we believe that serious application of the MPREF community's technology to the problem of personal preference-driven presentation of menus, seating, etc., will require significant further innovation. We broadly survey the current use of preferences in making the dining-out experience more enjoyable, and we look at the states of the art for preference representation and reasoning, and for restaurant software. We illustrate some of our points with a short story.
Evolutionarily speaking, we're programmed to want those sweet, sweet calories. When done right, food is almost as good as that other thing we're evolutionarily programmed to want. Big data, the science of compiling unwieldy bulk information and turning it into bite-sized chunks of manageable information, has revealed some extraordinary knowledge across every industry. It's done everything from spotting market trends and detecting fraud to searching for lost aircraft. And when it comes to the food and agricultural industry, that's the just the tip of the iceberg lettuce.
Difficult as it may be to remember now, there was a time when planning a vacation meant calling a travel agent. These professionals served as an intermediary between travelers and hotels, airlines and so on, taking vague notions ("We'd like to do two weeks across Europe") and turning them into itineraries. But over the past 15 years or so, do-it-yourself websites like Orbitz and Airbnb have empowered vacationers to pick their own accommodations, making travel agents increasingly unnecessary. The U.S. Department of Labor warns that the employment of travel agents is set to drop 12% by 2024, thanks largely to "the ability of travelers to use the Internet to research vacations and book their own trip." Those DIY sites have given rise to a new problem: too much choice.