Hotel guests enjoy robot staffers, early indications show

by | Sep 25, 2018 | General News, News

Technological advances reach hotel staff

Experts begin to study customer satisfaction as it relates to the new robot employees that many hotels are beginning to feature and roll out

Full-service computers and robots in places like hotels have long been the stuff of sci-fiction, more commonly found in movies and television shows than out in the real world. This, however, has begun to change, especially in the hospitality industry.

In fact, the prominence of technology being used in this way has become such that it’s merited study, with academics and experts specifically conducting exploratory research into robot use among hotels in China, with areas of focus such as the functions that these robots handle as well as whether hotel guests are satisfied with the assistance they receive from robots versus that of humans.

The Results of the Hotel-Robot Study

The reports of this study, which was conducted by Cornell University professors Rohit Verma and Lina Zhong, has uncovered some mixed results. The researchers, however, note that “on balance the hotel guests we surveyed were satisfied with the robots’ service.”

Here are some of the details of the research work that was done: -during calendar year 2017, researchers conducted a survey involving robot applications in 88 hotels, comprising 789 rooms (or robots) in 23 cities located throughout China. The data that researches collected included well over 745,000 requests (or commands). The most common requests are (in descending order) turn the room (power) on all night, turn off the TV, turn the entire room off, and open the curtain. Closing the curtains and window screens for sleep were also high on the list, along with playing music. Looking at the list, researchers report that this appears to be functions that you’d find when a guest is returning to a room for a moment in the afternoon or turning in for the evening. Indeed, the researchers found peaks in the number of commands in the mid-afternoon, around 15:00, and at night, between 21:00 and 23:00. Morning is also represented, but it’s further down on the frequency list, with guests requesting that the curtains open, the TV turn on, and lights go on.

Are Guests Satisfied with Robot Service?

To gauge whether guests are satisfied after interacting with robots or artificial intelligence, the researchers surveyed 94 guests in six hotels (including metro and airport), comprising 188 rooms (or robots).

The sample was split about evenly between men and women, and it skewed toward young travelers, with almost two-thirds being between 18 and 30. The researchers found that these guests have high expectations for robots, including better living experiences, more convenient and customized services, and more interesting experiences. They also believe that staying in a “robot hotel” will be a cost-effective choice (although we also learned that guests are not so interested in paying a higher tariff to stay in a robot-supported room). Looking ahead, the respondents expected robots to handle numerous specific functions, notably, delivering food and goods, checking in and out of the room, and offering travel information and recommendations. All in all these results suggest early positive reactions, which likely indicates the use of robots in hotels will become more common place in the near future.

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