Blog 5: A.I. in Hotels
My sleep schedule has been all over the place recently and more often than not, I forget to switch on my alarm for the next morning. Thankfully, my iPhone remembers these details more than I do, and notifies me every night to put the alarm on. The smart notification beeps on my phone roughly around the same time I used to put the alarm on when my schedule was in place. My phone saves me every time!
From chatbots, customer engagement, operations management, revenue generation and even to just simple tasks that make our lives easier, A.I. is new kid in town that everyone wants to know more about.
Just like every other industry, even the hospitality industry has benefited from the advent of A.I. and below you will find some interesting ways hotels are using this technology to rev up guest experience.
1- Time saving and efficient, facial recognition check-in is being tested by Marriott International at its hotels in China. At Hangzhou Marriott Hotel Qianjiang and Sanya Marriott Hotel Dadonghai Bay, the check-in booths have been set up as a joint venture between Marriott International and Alibaba Group. Guests can use these booths to upload contact information, scan IDs and take a photo before the machine spits out their room keycard, all in less than a minute. This venture aims to benefit the hotel associates to maintain high levels of customer servicing while the booth takes care of check-in.
The facial recognition check-in booth
2- Quite a many hotels have now registered using robots as butlers, concierge and room service associates. The first robot at the front desk was introduced by Hilton Worldwide in partnership with IBM, called Connie. Connie has been named after Hilton's founder, Conrad Hilton, and can help guests with information on local tourist attractions, dining recommendations and hotel features and amenities. Connie started helping Hilton staff in 2016 and has been learning how to interact with guests and give them the most useful answers since then. Hilton's long history of innovation now has another feather in its cap, from being the first hotel chain to introduce television sets in rooms to developing the first robot for the hospitality industry.
Connie in action at the front desk
3- Another Marriott International venture, second to Hilton's Connie, Aloft Hotels are experimenting with a robo-butler called Botlr. All your requests can be handled via the SPG app and Botlr can then deliver towels by the pool, toiletries to your room and run similar small errands. The robot runs on its own wi-fi and accepts tweets in the form of tips!
Botlr ready for room service
4- The Henn-na Hotel in Japan (also known as the Strange Hotel) aims to be staffed by 90% robots shortly. Operating under the motto "A commitment for evolution," the hotel will feature three "actroids" (robots with strong human likeness) that will act as receptionists. Features like human temperature sensing via a radiation panel, requesting amenities on a tablet, facial recognition room unlocking system and solar panel energy will make the hotel the most futuristic low-cost hotel in the industry.
The reception manned by robots at Henn-na Hotel
5- Amazon's Echo is also being implemented in rooms across hotel chains for guests to use. Guests can order room service, ask questions, book a cab, adjust the air conditioner temperature, close the drapes and other small tasks, all from a tablet present in the room. This is making the task of the hospitality staff easier and they can spend time doing other things that robots cannot do. It also reduces the operational costs as fewer staff is needed on the floor at a time. Hotels have reported that management becomes easier as everything is recorded with robots.
Amazon Echo's abilities
Whether you like it or not, artificial intelligence is going to take over the world and possibly even kill many jobs (which may or may not be a good thing- debate for another blog!). The best we can do is adapt accordingly, enjoy it when it's making our lives easier and try not to get creeped out when we see ads on social media about something we were only thinking about and didn't even search online!
Also, be more vigilant next time when you stay at a hotel- observe the changes from the traditional hospitality to more (perhaps) 'artificial' hospitality. Let me know your thoughts and experiences in the comments below!
Signing off and switching on my alarm for tomorrow,
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