CampaignBuzz: Edwardian hotels launch robot concierge
May 25, 2016
Just a few weeks have gone by since my last blog post about the emergence of robots in the world of hospitality. Now we have another development that further backs up my prediction that this new technology will continue to emerge fully in this market sector.
The latest hotel group to enter the arena are Edwardian Hotels London, who have announced the launch of an artificially intelligent ‘chatbot’, which will act as a concierge for guests staying at the group’s 12 hotels in London and Manchester.
The chatbot in question (or ‘Edward’ to give him his ‘human’ name) will help guests do all kinds of useful things, including checking and requesting hotel amenities, receiving information about local bars and restaurants, and even making complaints – simply by sending a text message.
So how does Edward actually work? It’s all designed around something called a ‘natural language understanding’ (NLU) interface, which basically enables guests to use natural and conversational language – which the chatbot responds to within a few seconds.
Of course, that’s all very well in theory, but technology does go wrong. Which is presumably why Edwardian Hotels will also employ a failsafe system whereby hotel staff will monitor the messages that Edward is receiving – allowing them to respond in the more conventional manner if Edward is having an off day!
Off days or not however, Edward could be just the tip of the iceberg, with chatbots all part of a wider project to digitally transform the way the group engages with guests.
As I have talked about in the past, this is yet another example of how ‘automated hospitality’ is slowly becoming the norm rather than the exception. And no wonder. Digital interaction is now second nature to the vast majority of us, whether on our iPad, tablet, iPhone, smart phone, laptop or even Apple Watch. And texting and messaging will soon become the simple and central entry point for the entire hospitality customer service ecosystem – simply because it’s quick, private and easy to use.
Much like driver-less Tube trains and automated cars, the future of the hotel industry is fast becoming one in which machines play an ever more prominent part. Android concierges and robot chambermaids? Who knows – before long, they too could be a reality! Watch this space.
by Rob Conway