Robots and Automation Move From Novelty to Necessity in Hotels

Skift grip

Given the constraints of today’s job market – and the rapid onboarding of new hospitality talent – ​​it’s time to push the boundaries of artificial intelligence, robotics and automation.

Carley Thornel

No frequent traveler has escaped the toothpaste walk of shame – the stroll to reception to grab a forgotten toiletries, during which the guest prays that no one will confront.

But that has been eliminated at the eight California hotels owned by Investors with a sea viewthanks to robot ambassadors who deliver hotels, sundries and dental products in five minutes or less.

“The goal is not to replace anyone, (but) just to improve the jobs of those who work here,” said Tiffany Jassel Bevins, director of asset management at Seaview.

“This allows staff to provide more personalized service to the customers in front of them. And we have so many positive reviews on TripAdvisor (around robots). »

Silicon Valley-based technology Robotic Relay is programmed to mingle and tell jokes, said Steve Cousins, the company’s chief technical officer. But while offering something a little different from other hotels that appeals to guests, it can also push the limits of what technology can achieve.

You just have to ask Klaas van Lookeren Campaign. The CitizenM CEO says a digital-first strategy has led the brand to be the most profitable per square foot among its competitors. “We are now living after the pandemic in the struggle for resources. I think everyone fights for good employees,” he said. “Guess what, if you have the highest customer satisfaction and these cool tools, of course they love working for you.”

Innovations such as an app for customers and another for employees mean that CitizenM “ambassadors” – or employees – can deliver details of neighborhood attractions directly to a customer’s device. Ambassadors can also do a room key at the bar, for example, while chatting and sipping a cocktail, eliminating the wait at the traditional reception.

This experience has facilitated staff retention. “If you look at our website, there are hardly any (open jobs for) hoteliers, we are only looking for data engineers – I think that’s the direction (you’re headed)” , said van Lookeren Campaign.

Other companies have been driven by necessity to do dramatic bullshit in their operations. Accor has launched a pilot at ibis Styles London Gloucester Road, the brand’s first fully digital hotel in Northern Europe. This is the first step in a deployment plan that will affect at least 50% of its hotels in Europe over the next few years.

“It’s not about robots or faceless technology. It’s about the smart integration of innovative customer-centric technologies, at pace and at scale. Technology is part of our daily lives and is now fully part of our hotel experience,” said Carla Milovanov, Senior Vice President for Customer Technology Services at Accor. “With this milestone, we are giving our guests the ability to tailor their hotel stay to suit their preferences.”

Accor’s technology is already automating certain hotel distribution activities and allowing staff to spend more time with guests rather than on administrative or manual tasks. Click Pay Collect makes it possible to order from a hotel’s digital menu from just a phone, eliminating calls to a restaurant or placing paper on a doorknob. As the order is fully integrated into the hotel ecosystem, expenses can be charged to the room and settled upon check-out.

Other cloud features are also designed to transform the physical check-in and check-out experience. Accor’s Gloucester Road property created the Accor keya smartphone-activated code that lets guests access elevators and enter their rooms, eliminating the need for check-in counters.

Meanwhile, hotels like The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas have gone further in streamlining communication with guests through the use of artificial intelligence. the pink sassy chatbot Originally launched customer service — like restaurant recommendations, requests for extra pillows, and property tours — via text. Digital marketing director Lindsey Riggs said guest engagement is so high that the hotel has created a digital guest services team, which monitors conversations throughout the day and helps Cosmopolitan respond to requests within 60 seconds.

“Thanks to (artificial intelligence), Rose has the ability to use conversational data to learn from customers’ interaction with her over time, which helps us better understand what our customers want and need. “, said Riggs.

Data shows that guests who interact with Rose are on average 30% more satisfied with their stay than those who don’t, Riggs said. “Highly engaged” customers — those who send Rose five or more texts during their stay — experience 28% longer stays than those who don’t interact with her.

“This tells us that Rose’s unique and playful personality not only builds relationships and overall guest satisfaction, but her undeniably unique tone of voice is what helps her stand out from others in the hospitality industry,” said said Riggs.

And while human staff can often wilt in the early hours of a city filled with late-night heavy hitters, “automation allows the Las Vegas Cosmopolitan to have an always-on brand ambassador,” Riggs said.