The use of robots within the hospitality industry is becoming more commonplace, with uses ranging from artificially intelligent chatbots, designed to assist with the customer service process, through to robot assistants, deployed to improve guests’ experience in a hotel. In this article, you will find more information about the uses of robots within hospitality, complete with eight specific examples from around the world.
Join the discussion on robots being used in the hospitality industry.
When discussing robots and their uses, it is important to first establish what they actually are. In simple terms, a robot is a machine, which has been built to carry out complex actions or tasks automatically. Some robots are designed to resemble humans and these are called androids, but many robots do not take such a form.
Modern robots can be either autonomous or semi-autonomous and may make use of artificial intelligence (AI) and speech recognition technology. With that being said, most robots are programmed to perform specific tasks with great precision, with an example being the industrial robots seen in factories or production lines.
The use of artificial intelligence within the field of robotics is one of the most exciting and promising applications for individuals and businesses operating within the hotel or hospitality industry. Nevertheless, this is another complex area, where a clearer understanding is necessary.
Essentially, artificial intelligence refers to the performance of seemingly intelligent tasks, which mimic human cognitive functions. Although there is no precise definition of what constitutes artificial intelligence, problem solving, reasoning, understanding human speech and autonomous navigation are typically viewed as examples of AI.
Therefore, references to artificially intelligent robots will usually be describing robots that have been designed to be able to achieve some of these ‘intelligent’ tasks or functions.
Part of the reason why robots have emerged as a popular technology trend within the hospitality industry is because ideas of automation and self-service are playing an increasingly vital role in the customer experience. The use of robots can lead to improvements in terms of speed, cost-effectiveness and even accuracy.
For example, chatbots allow a hotel or travel company to provide 24/7 support through online chat or instant messaging services, even when staff would be unavailable, delivering extremely swift response times. Meanwhile, a robot used during the check-in process can speed up the entire process, reducing congestion.
Below, you will find a list of eight current uses of robots within the hospitality industry.
Situated in Nagasaki, Japan, Henn-na Hotel became the first hotel in the world to be entirely staffed by robots. Throughout the hotel, robots are deployed to provide information, front desk services, storage services, as well as check in and check out services, with technology including voice and facial recognition.
Connie is a robot concierge, used by Hilton. The robot makes use of an artificial intelligence platform developed by IBM, and is able to interact with guests and respond to their questions, thanks to its speech recognition capabilities. The system also learns and adapts with each interaction, improving the answers it provides.
Away from the hotel industry, Travelmate is an example of robotics being used for luggage purposes. Essentially, it is an autonomous suitcase, which is able to follow you on its own. It makes use of anti-collision technology, has 360 degree turning capabilities and eliminates the need for carrying, pulling or pushing a suitcase around.
Airports and hotels are increasingly making use of robotic assistants, transforming the entire hospitality industry. These assistants are capable of carrying out various tasks, including room service and information provision. A key advantage is the ability for robots to offer support for a variety of different languages.
Some travel agents are also looking into the use of robots, especially as a means of pre-qualifying customers. For example, Amadeus have experimented with a robot called 1A-TA, which is powered by artificial intelligence. Rather than forcing customers to wait during busy periods, the robot is able to immediately get to work, finding out about their needs and preferences and passing the information on when they actually speak to a human travel agent.
To date, chatbots have been one of the most common uses of robots within the hospitality industry and these can be used to deliver basic customer service, or for more complex tasks, like hotel or flight bookings. A great example of this is the SnatchBot Booking Travel Template, which intelligently guides customers through the booking process.
Airport security is one of the most important areas where new technology is deployed and robots are in use here too. One particularly strong example of this is the Knightscope robots that are increasingly being used to autonomously detect concealed weapons, helping to keep passengers safe during their flights.
There are a number of additional uses for robots, especially within the hotel industry. For instance, as the following video will show, there are examples of robot butlers and robot luggage porters, which make use of a variety of technologies, including collision detection, Wi-Fi and AI, in order to navigate hotels and provide services.
The subject of robotics and the use of robots to perform human tasks is a matter of some debate, and there are both advantages and disadvantages. In terms of positives, robots do not get tired, do not get bored, can work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and do not require a salary. They can also process many tasks faster than humans.
In certain situations, robots can perform with a greater degree of accuracy and consistency than humans would be able to, and ‘human error’ is eliminated. Moreover, robots can perform in dangerous or hostile environments, and can be programmed to perform actions that humans would be unwilling or unable to do.
With that said, there are also disadvantages. Increased automation could lead to an employment crisis due to fewer jobs, while the initial investment and maintenance costs associated with robots can be high. They are also unable to act outside of their programmed parameters, meaning they cannot adapt to unanticipated situations.
Robots and artificial intelligence are emerging as valuable solutions for those operating in the hospitality industry, and the uses are numerous. However, while robots can improve automation and perform tasks without tiring, it is important to acknowledge limitations as well, including an inability to quickly adapt to circumstances.
With digital technology continuously evolving, it should come as little surprise that its applications within the travel and hospitality industry evolve too. In the following articles we piled up the most innovating digital trends in the hospitality industry.
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