Robotic Technology and AI Revitalize the Hotel Experience

This article was written by David Millilee, CEO of Angie Hospitality.

The future is here. While robots and artificial intelligence were cool concepts for the future, COVID-19 disrupted the industry and made them think about the safety of hotel staff and guests. The hotel experience with a human, personalized connection will never get old, but robotics can change the game for the better.

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According to a Gartner study, customer experience is responsible for more than two-thirds of customer loyalty. By investing in the right technology now, guests can feel safe and comfortable during their stay this year. This increases overall satisfaction, which translates into greater loyalty and more repeat visits. Let’s take a look at three areas where the latest technology will have the biggest impact on the hotel experience and provide guests with a personalized experience.

David Millili, managing director, Angie Hospitality

In the lobby.

Instead of greeting guests upon arrival with smiling front desk staff, face masks, physical barriers and aloofness are the norm. Hotels like Hotel Sky in Johannesburg use automated security services to serve guests, from check-in to dropping off luggage to the room. In addition to helping customers with their tasks, these robots can also scan facial expressions to assess customers’ emotions.

Self-service kiosks, similar to those in airports, can also allow customers to monitor their interactions, recognize their loyalty preferences and provide an efficient and convenient way to check in. This reduces waiting time and eliminates the need for contact with staff and other customers.

Hotels are looking for ways to replace traditional concierge service to keep guests from lingering in the lobby, reduce wait times, and limit contact with other guests and staff. Hotels like Hilton use a robotic concierge service that provides recommendations, directions and information about hotels. Mobile apps can also help customers avoid queues and provide an efficient yet personalized experience.

In the bedroom.

The use of fidelity profiles, data and advanced technologies enables ultra-personal targeting in this space. When a loyalty program member registers, the room can be automatically set to the desired temperature, their favorite music can be played, and the curtains can be opened to enjoy the top floor view. The use of AI and voice technology by in-room assistants further enhances the experience by allowing guests to control their environment completely hands-free and avoid various touch points such as thermostats, switches and remotes.

AI also allows guests to request towels, pillows or food to be delivered to their room without human contact. The Mercantile New Orleans employs a robot butler to bring guests snacks, coffee or the morning paper.

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Just like your Netflix account, robot services rely on your preferences and choices to build a profile and make tailored suggestions. Whether it’s booking amenities through an app, ordering room service through a voice assistant, or requesting two extra towels every time you travel, this data can be used to increase or reinforce loyalty on future stays.

Around the hotel – common areas and facilities

A recent survey by AHLA found that 62% of guests consider cleanliness and safety protocols to be their second highest priority when choosing a hotel, compared to 38% of guests who visited a hotel before COVID. It is therefore in the nature of hotels to adopt new health and safety measures.

According to Verified Market Research, the UV disinfectants market is expected to exceed $5.5 billion by 2027. From automated vacuum cleaners to robots that can kill viruses with ultraviolet light, the latest technologies are taking the workload away from routine and potentially dangerous tasks and allowing staff to focus on providing exceptional customer service.

Although times have changed, many guests still expect access to amenities such as a restaurant, gym and use of the pool. When guests have the ability to access menus, order and pay for food through the hotel’s website or app, and book a time using their own devices to access other features, it opens up many more possibilities.

When customers interact with the integrated technology, their actions, requests and preferences are stored in their profile. The more hotel rooms and data collected, the more opportunities hotels have to tailor future visits to guests’ wants and needs. Whether it’s a robotic concierge that greets guests at the door, automatic vacuum cleaners that give guests peace of mind, or mobile apps and voice technology that puts guests in control, robots and AI technology will have a positive impact and keep guests coming back.

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