As touched on in our artificial intelligence article, robots have advanced to assist in the hospitality industry in new and unique ways. They are enhancing the way guests experience hotels and restaurants. The big sentiment by all hotels who are investing in robots is that they are not to replace human counterparts; they are simply there to ease the workload and increase efficiency.
A company called Savioke has created a robot they call Relay designed to help hotel staff mitigate time-consuming room deliveries. Relay can reliably deliver things like towels and snacks to guest rooms, increasing privacy and enabling faster delivery. It also encourages social media sharing which can have a positive impact, and allows staff to better focus on the guest experience. In fact, over 80% of hotel staff say Relay makes them more effective and satisfied with their job. Relay was first employed at an Aloft property in Cupertino, CA in 2014 and has since multiplied to about 75 hotels around the globe.
Many other companies are trying to make their stake in the robotics hospitality market: Double Robotics, SoftBank Robotics, Aethon, etc. Aethon’s TUG robots are designed to greet guests and walk them to any on-site services and then deliver guest luggage to rooms. They are able to get through doors and up elevators through a combination of GPS and WiFi. It has been deployed at the Sheraton San Gabriel, and is highly successful.
Japan has taken the lead in creating hotels that are run by robots in different ways. H.I.S Hospitality Group has opened several hotels in Japan called Henn-na (“weird”), and are looking to expand over the next couple years to new destinations. These weird hotels are famous for robots running the front desks, easing the check-in process, while being multilingual to accommodate guests. According to TripAdvisor, guests appear to flock to this hotel particularly to see the robots in action, and try this new technology. Some do believe it needs to progress to be considered innovative, while others fully approve this technology. The brand also employs a robot named Sawyer who is a barista at a shop inside one of their properties. “They work hard, don’t require a break and are never moody,” the manager laughs. “It’s fun working here, it’s a great novelty and seeing the robots makes the guests happy.”
Caliburger is the first to implement a robot named Flippy to work as a hamburger chef in the back of the house (where no one wants to work over the hot, steamy grills for excessive amounts of time). He can flip 150 burgers an hour. Caliburger is hoping the robot will help decrease wait time, add consistency and decrease food waste over time. “As it improves its speed and skill set over time such as frying, chopping and grilling menu items and adding seasoning or cheese to patties, CaliBurger will see an increase in productivity. In addition, we’ve modeled our pricing based off expected value each robotic kitchen assistant can provide at scale,” says Miso Robotics CEO Dave Zito.
In all, robots can do incredible things in many industries; they can take the dirty, dangerous, and dull tasks out of human hands. This can increase efficiency and create new opportunities for humans we otherwise would not have; with machines increasing orders coming in, more people are needed to fill those orders. It’s not about taking jobs away; it’s about creating new ones. With the cost of robots going down and minimum wage going up, it is economically feasible to look into investing in robots.
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