Hotel robots could be used to reassure guests that their stays will be compatible with minimized social contact and human interaction.
While not as prevalent in the U.S. and Europe as they are in Japan, the deployment of hotel service robots may accelerate in the West, due to the coronavirus pandemic.
That’s according to Dr. Tracy Xu, a lecturer of hospitality at the University of Surrey, who recently published a paper on how hotel owners should deal with the challenges of service robot technologies.
The project was completed in March, before the U.K. and U.S. went into lockdown. It outlined how hotel managers see increased efficiency and productivity through hotel robots, but also higher costs, skill deficits, and changes to hotel culture to accommodate the robots.
However, with the coronavirus pandemic changing hotel management, culture, and structure for the next year at least, Dr. Xu sees the additional health and safety benefits of service robots.
“Application of service robots in the hotel industry is on the rise,” said Dr. Xu “With the added factor of a need to reassure potential guests that their stays will be compatible with minimized social contact and human interaction, this process could be accelerated.
“During the lockdown period it is likely that hotel managers will be planning for a ‘fresh start’ in the recovery and rebuilding period after the social isolation restrictions have been lifted and this is predicted to have a positive stimulus on the adoption of service robots,” she added.
In Japan, service robots and IoT systems have been in place for a lot longer, although for some roles humans remain. The Weird Hotel, opened in 2015, is run mostly by robots, but the owners removed most of the staff last year, admitting that they created more problems than they solved.