CampaignBuzz: New research underlines importance of robots in hotel industry


March 9, 2017

There are many good things about being busy – and, having recently returned from long, exhausting, yet ultimately extremely rewarding, trips to Berlin and Dubai, I can safely say that 2017 continues to be extremely productive. The down side is that things like writing blogs tend to take a back seat. So, in what I hope will become a more regular feature on our website, I’m pleased to add to my blog pieces from 2016, which looked into the role of robots within the hospitality industry.

As someone with a restless need to continually innovate and look towards what’s coming next, the utilisation of robots and A.I. continues to fascinate me and occupy my thoughts, particularly within the context of the hotel sector. So I was intrigued to read on The Caterer website about some new research carried out by Travelzoo, which raised the prospect not only of automated concierges, but also seemingly science fiction-esque things such as iris scans to replace room keys… and all, apparently, before the year 2020.

Surveyed: 6,000 Travelzoo customers, of which 80% said they expected robots to feature more heavily in travel and hospitality by the time the second decade of the 21st century draws to a close. How many thought that was a good thing? Three-quarters of respondents, citing the expectation of improved travel experiences as the primary reason.

As for the experience within the hotel itself, again roughly three-quarters of those polled said they would accept robots working as porters, with two-thirds being receptive to the idea of robots delivering room service. But when it came to human interaction, those surveyed were keen to retain a more human feel, with over 80% preferring to speak to a human member of staff about the local area of the hotel they were staying in.

The results of this survey make interesting reading, and show that, in a world in which we are all used to a high degree of computerised interaction, we are more than happy to take that to the next logical stage when we stay in a hotel for the night too.

Like all new technology, it is how useful, intuitive and user friendly it is that will ultimately decide its success. But with the likes of Toshiba now refining human-looking androids and A.I. being so advanced it recently beat the world’s top four poker players (BBC News, January 31, 2017) greater robot interaction within the hospitality sector looks increasingly like the norm, rather than the exception.

by Rob Conway

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