As the hotel industry rises from the wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s time to adapt, redesign, and reinvent its operations. Incorporating robot technology into the industry is one of the viable ways to achieve this objective.
By bringing new ways and ideas into the industry, the hotel sector can scale up and reinvent a new hospitality environment post-pandemic. Are robotized hotels the future of the hospitality industry? How will they restore customer confidence? What are some of the pros and cons?
Robot technology: revolutionizing the hotel sector
In 2015, Henn na Hotel in Nagasaki, Japan, became the world’s first institution to launch the first “robotel.” This opened the way for service robots to enter the tourism and hospitality sector.
Some hotels have already started using robots in their properties. As the AI and robotics industry continues to advance, more establishments are mulling the implementation of this technology to give their guests a new experience during their stay and to automate reservation processes.
The presence of a raging pandemic is a prominent reason to accelerate the implementation of this technology. The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced new norms like social distancing and minimized human contact.
Using the robotic technology in the hotel industry could help achieve this objective without disrupting business. While some hoteliers already use robots in their properties as an innovation strategy, the question is whether the benefits of this strategy outweigh its downsides.
Benefits of Using Robotics in the Hospitality Sector
The ultimate success of using robotics in the hotel hospitality sector depends on whether the customers are comfortable while being served by the robots. Interestingly, in a study conducted in 2017, at least 60 per cent of the respondents said they would be comfortable in robot services.
Here are the advantages of using robots in the hospitality industry:
Improved efficiency and productivity
Robots can work at all times as programmed without experiencing exhaustion. This is likely to push efficiency and productivity to a historic maximum.
Besides, robots don’t exhibit bad moods or experience bad days.
This makes them deliver standard service to each customer without discrimination. In fact, a robot cannot forget a customer’s orders. This eliminates common errors that often arise from human service.
Helping guests with questions
Hoteliers can use robots to answer practical questions and provide guests with helpful information. Some companies are already using this technology.
For instance, a robot can help guests with quick weather updates or let them know when breakfast is served.
Some robots try to see the person as well as hear them. For example, when a guest asks where the elevator is, the robot responds by saying and pointing where it’s located.
AI-enabled robots are already making a difference in various regions of the world. This technology can perform various duties ranging from taking amenities to guest rooms to surveillance of buildings. In some companies, robots have saved security teams several manhours, as human employees can simply watch live footages instead of patrolling the facilities themselves.
Additionally, robots can help hoteliers manage unexpected absences of staff as well as high occupancy periods more effectively.
More personalized search results
The hospitality industry already has booking engines powered by machine learning technology. Using AI, this technology can help users personalize their search results by maximizing their chances of conversion.
Users can now find their most preferred hotels based on various factors including geography, booking history and many more. Additionally, robots are capable of helping travelers research their travel options with a chatbot.
This can assist them with existing reservations, providing answers about property policies, transport, date changes, arrivals and departure times, as well as payment issues. Where they cannot handle, robots redirect the user to a human member of the customer service team.
Possible downsides of robotic technology
Even with these benefits, robotic technology has its share of the negatives. Some people have claimed that the hospitality and tourism industry needs more skilled and well-trained employees instead of robots.
A common downside of using robots is that they eliminate human employees leading to unemployment. On the technical side, here are possible downsides of incorporating robots into the hotel industry:
AI is still developing
While it has made tremendous progress recently, AI technology is still in its infancy. There are situations where the technology cannot make reasonable decisions based on the available data.
It’s possible to feed robots with biased or wrong information, leading to incorrect decisions. While this problem can be overcome as technology advances, it creates a loophole at the moment.
Data security loopholes
Data privacy is a major concern for all businesses that intend to tap into robotic technology. Information collected by robots when they interact with users could be diverted to other purposes. This presents a data security loophole that could easily infringe on users’ rights.
With COVID-19 pandemic in our midst, the hotel industry could see more robots implemented to redefine its operations. From helping the staff with answering customers’ questions to facilitating personalized recommendations, this technology is set to revolutionize the hospitality sector.
However, for the industry to realize its full implementation, the mentioned challenges of robotic technology will need to be addressed first.
Alexander Mirza, The Founder & CEO of Mogul – Humanizing Travel. Its platform Staymogul.com provides booking, service and talent solutions for the hospitality industry.