When Robots have found wide acceptance in every industry, be prepared to meet a robot greeting you on your next hotel stay.
Robots have penetrated every industry these days. Now, it is slowly sweeping to prove useful in the hospitality sector too. Hence it would not be surprising if we find a robot bellman and concierge greeting us during our next holiday or business tour (obviously after COVID-19). The entry of robotics in hospitality sector became popular after Henn-na Hotel in Nagasaki, Japan, became the first hotel in the world to be entirely staffed by robots. Given the dynamic nature of the travel industry, several organizations are now viewing robotics as a solution for the growing demand for better services that, in turn, integrates innovation offering a unique hassle-free experience. Robots also prove resourceful in carrying out repetitive tasks like delivery of room services, security checking, cleaning, or customer-oriented tasks like cooking, and others.
Though we are still caught up in the debate if robots are suitable for the hospitality industry or not, there are certain attributes where robots have a better edge. Robots are not prone to exhaustion, like humans, nor are they bored. They can carry out tasks with a high level of precision and accuracy, eliminating human error, plus they will never forget your orders, even if it’s a request for extra toiletries. Now given the present situation of COVID-19, where almost every industry suffers from lack of human hands at the company or organization sites, robots fill in their shoes in the meantime. Let us have a look at some of the excellent examples of robots in this field.
In 2016, Hilton and IBM partnered to create a concierge Connie, the resident robot at the McLean hotel in the Virginia branch. Connie tells guests about nearby attractions, hotel amenities, check-out time, and places to eat. The robot makes use of an artificial intelligence platform developed by IBM. It can interact with guests using its speech recognition capabilities and answer questions like, “Where`s the airport?” and “Where`s the nearest Chinese restaurant?”.
Then we have Dash, a machine robot navigating across corridors of Intercontinental Hotel, Crowne Plaza, Silicon Valley, delivering items such as towels and toiletries to guests’ rooms. When called, Dash makes its way through the hotel, using a unique Wi-Fi connection. After reaching its destination, it makes a phone call to the guests to announce its arrival. Dash can even monitor its own power usage and return to its charging point when needed. The main purpose behind the idea of Dash is to allow front desk team members to focus on value-added customer service that only people can provide. Even the M Social hotel has implemented a room-service robot named Aura, who does a similar job. Other similar notable examples are Cleo and Leo robot of Hotel EMC2 in Chicago and relay robots Jeno and Jena stationed at Hotel Jen Orchardgateway and Hotel Jen Tanglin in Singapore.
Aloft Cupertino Hotels by Starwood introduced a robotic butler or Botlr named ALO, which helps customers at the check-in desk in delivering things. Robots can also store luggage and other important baggage safely under their surveillance. The Yobot, by Yotel can store an occupant’s bag in one of its 150 bins safely. Yobot automatically collects and elvers guests’ luggage upon arrival. To retrieve the luggage back, one simply needs to give the robot a PIN and her last name. This robot can handle around 300-items of luggage a day. Due to the newfound love for sanitation after Covid-19, one can carry CleanseBot, which is a portable bacteria-killing robot that gets under the sheets and uses UV lights to disinfect and sterilize surfaces. And if one is too lazy to carry his stuff around and has no bellboy to help him, the traveler can use a collision-proof robotic suitcase, Travelmate. This suitcase has 360° turning capacities and eliminates the need to transport, pull, or push a suitcase around.
To surmise, hospitality robots are clearly at a tipping point and are slowly revolutionizing this industry. The best part is that they are cost-effective and have gained cultural acceptance, and use sophisticated technology to live and work among us safely. This trend is surely going to increase post-COVID-19.