Checking In On Robots

The hospitality landscape is a testing ground for the pioneering robotics industry. With robots on the rise, one of the questions top of mind among hospitality leaders is does the growing presence of robots in the industry enhance or diminish the guest experience?

Skift’s Business Travel Editor Andrew Sheivachman reported on robots in the travel and hospitality sectors showcased at CES, 2018 this January in Las Vegas. Protypes performed tasks such as delivering luggage, packages, food and beverages to guests. In his article, Sheivachman acknowledges that robot technology has progressed, but, based on his show experience, concludes that guest-robot interactions appeal to more adventurous travelers and will not disrupt travel and hospitality soon because “the human element is too important for hotels.”

But robots have found gainful employment in hotels. On one end of the spectrum, Japan’s Henn-na Hotel (means Weird Hotel) located in the Huis Ten Bosch theme park in Nagasaki, is run almost entirely by robots to save labor costs. The more common use of robots in hotels is in an employee support role. A Relay robot, manufactured by California-based manufacturer Savioke, roams the halls of über contemporary, space-age themed YOTEL Boston. Affectionately named YO2D2, the robot makes guestroom deliveries. Guests communicate with the robot through the Yotel app. Many guests find robot service a fun novelty.

Robots interacting with guests can gather data about customer satisfaction, purchase patterns and other behaviors. The information can help hotels customize guests’ stays. However, hotels using robots will monitor their data collection processes to remain compliant with GDPR regulations.

In their marketing messaging, Savioke says that their autonomous, indoor delivery robot “empowers staff to do more.” This train of thought implies that by relieving hotel employees of delivery tasks, they should have more time for customer interactions that enhance the guest experience.

To be sure, guests checking into hotels expect high tech services be readily available, but not at the expense of high-touch, employee-delivered customer service. As robots become more widely used and accepted by the traveling public, hotels will need to figure out how using robots for customer interactions fits within their brand promise.

HX Regional Events. Throughout the year, HX plans to host career-building networking events for industry executives. The first regional event is planned for September 2018 in Orlando.

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