In the age of self-driving cars and everything at your fingertips, robot hotels seem like a futuristic concept but are actually becoming increasingly common within hospitality. You’ve seen robots at airports, and have probably chatted to one if you’ve ever used a chatbot or live chat function on a website.
A robot is a man-made machine, created with the purpose to complete complex actions or automate tasks. Robots today can either function autonomously or semi-autonomously and use artificial intelligence (AI) and speech recognition technology. Robots are programmed to execute specific tasks with great precision and use AI to perform intelligent tasks which mimic human behaviour and responses. Things like problem solving, reasoning, comprehending speech and autonomous navigation are examples of AI in robot technology used today.
What is a robot hotel?
Thanks to technology, the modernization of the hospitality industry in the last quarter century has made many advances in the way hotels operate and do business. Robot hotels are hotels that make use of robots and AI to automate certain functions in their hotel. For example, you’ve probably heard of the robot bellman, robot butler, or robot concierge? The purpose is to create a lasting impression with your guests and offer something that other hotel’s don’t.
Benefits of a robot hotel
Robots can free up the time of your staff doing things like the old-fashioned check in and out process, and instead that time can be used on more important tasks, like creating the best experience for your valued guests. They can offer round the clock support and alleviate from scheduling stress on your team. They can take care of many of the menial tasks that take up a lot of your staff’s time while delivering a memorable experience for your guest. Sounds win-win right?
Examples of current robot hotels
Henn na Hotel
The world’s first robot hotel is Japan’s Henn-na hotel located in the town of Sasebo, near Nagasaki Japan. Henn na is the first hotel with an entire robot staff and helps guests with everything from checking in to letting you into your room with face recognition. Once situated in your room, Churi-san helps you manage heat and light settings, tells you the weather and anything else you may need during your stay. Henn na has also recently opened it’s Ginza location in the heart of Tokyo where guests can experience this entirely robot staff experience.
Connie, Hilton’s Robot Concierge
Hilton’s robot concierge, Connie, was developed by IBM and is working at the Mclean hotel, Virginia branch. Powered by IBM’s Watson supercomputer AI, Connie interacts with guests with her speech recognition ability. She tells guests about nearby attractions, recommends restaurants, and offers hotel information. She is also continuously “learning” as she improves after each interaction.
Aloft Robot Butler
Aloft was the first chain to implement robot technology back in 2014. Meet A.L.O. – Aloft’s “Botlr” at their Cupertino location. Its purpose was to delight guests when making room deliveries. It spends its day traveling the whole hotel making deliveries to guests.
Crowne plaza’s Robot Butler
If you’re ever in the San Jose area and stay at the Crowne Plaza in Silicon Valley, you’ll be able to meet Dash, their robot butler. Dash spends its time delivering things like snacks, toiletries, and other amenities to guests and lets the guest know the delivery has arrived by making a phone call to the suite. Dash runs on a unique wifi connection and even knows how to monitor its power usage and return to the charging port.
Yotel’s robot bellman
Yotel’s robot bellman goes by the name of “Yobot” and currently works at Yotel’s New York location. This bell-bot automatically collects guest’s luggage and delivers it to their room, allowing guests to check in quickly, minimize contact with others, and free up staff’s time for other prioriites. Yobot can carry over 300 pieces of luggage a day, making the labor intensive work of a bell boy something of yesterday.
At Yotel Singapore on the iconic Orchard road, Yoshi and Yolanda are the robot team and have attracted guests across the world to experience their one of a kind interaction and service. Within the first year of opening, Yotel Singapore has managed to attain over 80% occupancy rate on average. This was Yotel Singapore’s answer to the major labour shortage in hospitality and has proved effective and profitable.
Hotel EMC2’s service robot
Hotel EMC2 by Mariott’s Autograph collection in Chicago, Leo and Cleo are quite the attraction. The robot butlers make deliveries to guests, anything from toiletries to food and other necessities and have been well received by guests. This cuts down on staff labor and those hours are spent on other important tasks. Guests can interact with them by using their touch-screen and if you give them a 5-star rating, they do a little dance in appreciation. Once they finish their task, they head back to the elevator and ride it themselves.
As the hospitality industry continues to grow and transform, robots are giving hotels a competitive advantage over their competitors. These robots are fondly named and are a valued part of a hotel’s roster of staff. They’ve even become a bit of a celebrity, becoming a main attraction of a hotel in some cases. Currently, not all hotels will be able to invest into AI technology nor have the volume to sustain that initial investment to reap its return. But as we continue to learn and develop, and AI technology becomes more available and less exclusive, and more affordable, seeing hotel’s completely predominantly run by robots won’t seem as novel as it does today.