Are Robots coming to a hotel near you?


Are Robots coming to a hotel near you?

HospitalityNET World Panel Topic

A recent University of Houston report on robots in the hospitality industry claims that by 2030 over a quarter of hospitality jobs will be replaced by robots. Will robots ever replace all humans in hospitality? Next-gen technology will undoubtedly replace mundane, repetitive, and dangerous jobs in hotels performed by housekeepers, porters and baggage handlers, concierges, security guards, line cooks, room service, bartenders, waiters, etc. Some hoteliers claim that hospitality experience is an industry of “people serving people” and robots will be playing only a marginal role. Others, citing the high labor costs which constitute as much as 50%-84% of overall hotel costs in these low travel demand, low occupancies era, predict that robots will replace humans in all dangerous, repetitive and mundane jobs at the property.

The question is, are robots coming to a hotel near you anytime soon? 


Either way, they are on their way and some are already ‘in-house’.

It depends upon how one views a ‘robot’. Is a chatbot a type of robot? Some would say yes. Or does it only apply to the truly automaton physical looking devices with the digital smiley face to make humans more comfortable?

Either way, they are on their way and some are already ‘in-house’.

In my view of the onslaught of automatons there are two distinct tracks of application on the hospitality experience. One is customer facing service. The other is staff augmentation or replacement of certain roles.

On the customer facing side of the equation I would like to think that it will be the back of house or back up support nature of the latter that will mean the former remains a human driven experience. This will depend upon the product fit into the market. Perhaps a lower tier accommodation offering where service is not a driver of the brand promise might look like a fully automated experience where limited people interaction is offered or expected.

Although my view has long been that technology and its application is the great enabler for a higher standard (than ever before) of customer service leveraged on the back of automation that does not have to be seen by the customer or expected to replace the human connection. Robots whizzing around spaces cleaning, sanitising, moving equipment or monitoring environments and checking settings. Robotics in the back of the house handling logistics, storage, procurement and warehousing. Working on large scale of highly repetitive processes in the kitchen and production environments. There is much scope for application in these types of operational areas while not impacting the human side of the hospitality experience.

More practical examples are nearing the market now for public areas, kitchen equipment and applications that step past the cutesy ‘let my robot talk to you’ vs. providing meaningful workforce augmentation.

If we can find the balance in our industry it should bring about a genuine improvement of the hospitality service experience.

TRAVHOTECH reviews a year of dialogue and opinion through contributions to HospitalityNET’s World Panel topics in 2021. We’ve been pleased to able to offer our thoughts and experience on several important topics through our participation in the World Panel in 2021. Viewpoint first published on HospitalityNET Worldpanel for Information Technology in March 2021.


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