Whether sweeping a carpet or busy in a factory for the vast majority, a robot is a construct of the future. However, in the cut-throat world occupied by hoteliers, it seems as though that future is now. Why? Many of the leading brands are adopting robot technology to improve the guest experience. In fact, a few have been testing it for some time. And that has led to the dawn of the robot bellman, butler, and concierge.
Robot Technology Offers Many Benefits
Building a positive memory is a must for hoteliers, he/she wants the guest to leave, possibly return, and share that experience with others. How can robots help with this?
Multiple hotel chains have been testing the use of this technology for a few years now. And the overriding consensus is that it provides a competitive edge over establishments which have chosen not to pursue it.
How? Robots have the potential to not only free up the time of human staff but also assist in the personalization of a guests stay. In fact, there use is almost limitless, with just imagination, and cost being limiting factors.
Here is a selection of hotel brands that are leading the way.
Back in March last year it was widely reported that Hilton, together with IBM had announced a partnership. The purpose of this was to bring a robot called Connie to the hotel brands McLean, Virginia branch.
Connie named after Hilton’s founder, Conrad, is a concierge, able to inform guests about nearby places of interest. Plus, give dining recommendations and information about the hotel. Powered by IBM’s Watson super-computer AI, Connie is about as personable as a robot can get. Able to provide travelers with as much information as they require, she/it can even help to plan excursions.
In 2014, back when Connie was but a twinkle in an engineer’s eye, the Starwood brand Aloft Hotels had an idea. It would be the first major hotel brand to make use of robot technology. In doing so, it would further add to its self-entitled name of the hub for Millennial-minded travelers. As such A.L.O was created, a robotic butler or Botlr, as it is known.
First based at the companies Cupertino, California branch, A.L.O could travel the length and breadth of the establishment making deliveries. Yes, it can provide information for guests; however, it’s primary purpose was to surprise guest with a room delivery. Although, at the time it was also capable of freeing up time for hotel employee’s, to answer detailed queries.
An early adopter/tester of robot tech was the Crowne Plaza at its San Jose, Silicon Valley branch. Called Dash, it has the same purpose as A.L.O, deliveries. Although with a greater emphasis on enhancing the guest experience, by delivering snacks, toiletries, and advice on hotel amenities.
If called upon, Dash makes its way through the hotel, using a unique Wi-Fi connection it can call the lift. And to the surprise of many a guest, phones to announce it has arrived. It can even, monitor its own power usage, and return to its charging point when needed.
Henn na Hotel
Quirky, yet futuristic are words used to describe the Henn na Hotel, in the town of Sasebo, near Nagasaki, Japan. Could it be the most advanced/forward-thinking establishment on the planet?
On entering, it’s clear that robot technology has replaced humans, at the front desk a velociraptor greets you. It then asks you to check-in using the provided touchscreen, while a female Android flaps its eyelashes at you. On entering your room, by face recognition, there’s another robot with the name Churi San. It/she can control the heating, lighting, provide a weather forecast, and sing all at your request.
Do guests find that full-automation improves the experience? It is indeed a different approach; it may be a glimpse of the future for hoteliers.
Yotel is a brand that is making use of robot technology is a different manner to its competitors. While the front desk may not be automated, luggage collection and delivery is. The company first tested this at its New York location, using what it calls Yobot.
Yobot, a customized ABB IRB 6640 industrial robot, can handle around 300-items of luggage a day. In doing so, it enables guests to quickly check-in, and have as limited contact with others as they desire. However, the real purpose of this tech is to free up staff, for other duties, saving time, and money.
Based in Chicago, at the Hotel EMC2, are two robotic members of staff called Cleo and Leo. Dressed to impress with name tags, and coattails, they are the latest additions to Marriot’s robot takeover. As such, they have caused a stir, at around 3-feet tall, and rechargeable, they are always available.
Their purpose is to fulfill the needs of guests; this takes place by delivering something that was forgotten. Or by, answering room service with the delivery of an extra towel, snack, or toothbrush. All-in-all, they are proving to be the perfect stand-in for when their human counterparts are not available.
Did we leave any hotel brands off the list who are using robot technology? Let us know in the comments or join us on Facebook!
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