As the travel industry booms and the price of labor rises, robots are becoming increasingly more common in the hospitality industry. They are performing every function imaginable from carrying bags, delivering your room service and even greeting guests. These robots aren’t just R2D2 like little bots, some of these are fully human androids and others are actually dinosaurs!
Japan’s Henna Na Hotel Staffed by Robot Dinosaurs
We’ll get straight to the dinosaurs! The Henna Na hotel, which literally translates into ‘strange hotel,’ isn’t operated by normal hotel staff; in its place, they employ 140 hotel robots, programmed to cater to the guests every whim. The hotel contains 100 rooms, billing itself as the first hotel in the world to be staffed by robots.
A robot wearing a bow tie and with a beard checks guests into their rooms. Lady robots are also available to perform the task. The robots at the front desk are multi-lingual. Robots take care of the vacuuming and window cleaning as well. They also operate the in-house lockers. Bright red porter robots handle the luggage.
Guests can register their faces with the facial recognition system, freeing them from the trouble of carrying their room keys with them or worrying about losing the keys. Another definition for “Henn,” the Japanese word, is “to change.” In this regard, the Henn Na hotel can be seen to change the way that hotels are traditionally operating. They are committed to evolving hotel operation, imbuing their guests with experiences that are out of the ordinary, giving them a glimpse into the future.
Henn Na Hotel opened in 2015 and has prospered since. Their robots can get bugs from time to time, but that’s understandable, considering that the technology is only in its initial phase. Henn Na Hotel has encountered enough success that the owner has been encouraged to open similar hotels all over Japan. Currently, the owner plans on opening three hotels in Osaka Prefecture, and six in Tokyo, by 2018. He also has grander plans, plans to open over 100 robot-run hotels, even outside of Japan. There is no doubting the fact that the robots staffing the hotels are remarkable novelties, but the owners claim that these robots drive costs down and help create a more efficient hotel running experience.
LG unveils robots for Las Vegas Hotels
In Las Vegas, at a CES tech show, LG presented to the world three robots, their digital eyes the color of jade, designed for the hospitality industry, programmed to perform many hotel duties, including taking the guests’ luggage to their rooms, delivering drinks and meals and scanning the barcode on items for purchase.
These hotel robots are a part of a series of concept ‘bots’, referred to as CLOi, which is pronounced KLOH-ee, their unthreatening name a part of an obvious attempt to sell robot technology, making it sound friendly and soft. The CLOi robots are remarkable, designed for the purpose of serving food and drink to hotel guests, coming with sliding trays built into them, presenting their sliding trays to customers, wheeling it back inside the kitchen once the guests are finished, allowing guests to communicate that they are done by tapping their touchscreens, adding the personal touch to the experience.
Bell Boy ‘Porter’ Robots
Also available are a range of ‘Porter Robots,’ set to take over the work of bellboys. These porter robots carry the guests’ heavy luggage and, of course, do not expect a tip in return for their services. They also perform check-ins at the room when guests arrive; they then perform check-outs when the guests’ stay comes to an end, even taking the guests’ luggage to their cars. While guests won’t be able to engage in much chit-chat with these robots, the robots do employ voice recognition technology, allowing them to process basic commands.
Another robot is called the Shopping Cart Robot, a machine that comes with a barcode reader, able to scan items by using it, with applications in hotel stores.
Whether or not hotel guests will appreciate the services that these robots can provide, only time will tell. However, it cannot be denied that the robots have huge advantages over their human counterparts, namely that they can work around the clock without tiring, all throughout the year.
CLOi robots not only perform the functions specified above, they can also interact with other appliances, such as air conditioners and TVS, as well as other smart electronics that they are compatible with. This is because they work on LG’s ThinQ platform. So, you can not only tell the Porter Robot where to put your clothes, but you can also tell it to turn on the coffee machine.
Shangri-La group hotels in Singapore
Jeno and Jena, two robots, are now manning their stations in two different Singaporean Hotels owned by the Shangri-La group. Jena looks after guests in the Jen Tanglin Hotel, while Jeno looks after guests at the Jen Orchardgateway Hotel. This marks the first time in Asia that a major international hotel has installed robots to take care of its guests.
Both robots, Jeno and Jena, are a little under one meter in length; both can be found in the lobbies of their respective hotels, dressed impeccably in their tuxedo uniforms, brandishing their brand’s, Jen’s, colors, pink and turquoise. Their primary duty is delivering their hotel guests’ orders right to their doorsteps, whatever those orders might be, whether calling for extra towels or room service. The delivery time is short. Guests can expect to get their orders within 15 minutes of placing their orders. The can carry up to 4.5kg in weight.
Jeno and Jena are armed with sensors, helping them avoid obstacles and navigate their way through the hotel’s halls, where they move at a speed of 2.5 kmph, approximately half the speed of a normal walking person, making their journeys safe for staying guests.
The hotel robots also make use of Wi-Fi, taking unmanned rides on the lifts, making calls over the phone to the rooms of the guests, notifying them of their deliveries. They’ve made the front desk team’s job that much easier. All the front desk needs to do is enter the room number, and Jeno or Jena will be on their way.
For now, hotels like the Henn Na are a novelty but robots are occupying more and more hotel jobs. They can be both a novelty and help raise efficiency. It wouldn’t be shocking to see someone like Disney open an all-robot hotel to enhance their theme park brand or a place in Las Vegas using them to get visitors into a fledgling hotel-casino. In high tourism countries like Japan, robots may become more of a necessity than a novelty as there is an aging population and a workforce shortage.
At the end of the day, it’s up to us the consumers. Do we prefer human interaction or would we welcome robot dinosaurs checking us in?
Check out some other industries integrating speech recognition.