Hotel robotics thriving in 2020
 
Hotel robotics thriving in 2020
22 SEPTEMBER 2020 7:30 AM

Robots and contactless technology are playing a pivotal role in hotels during the pandemic.

Technology is transforming the hotel industry by leveraging the power of robotics and artificial intelligence.

When looking at productivity, hotels are using robotics not to supplant jobs, but rather to make them more effective and efficient. These technologies are designed to support the natural evolution of the hospitality sector and are functional in each department, from housekeeping to revenue management. Guests want personalization and information at the touch of a button and it is our job as hoteliers to meet this growing demand. At first sight, robots may look like a gimmick, but there are some hard economics behind it as the hospitality industry looks to return to profitability.

Housekeeping
Hotels are implementing high-tech solutions to keep guestrooms squeaky clean. From automated vacuums to virus-killing robots, these cutting-edge technologies are bridging the efficiency gap between humans and robots. For example, robot vacuum cleaners are leaving mundane and dangerous tasks to autonomous solutions, allowing the housekeeping department to focus on lower-impact work that may not have as much potential to cause back injuries.

In addition to helping reduce housekeeping-related injuries, these bots help hold labor costs in check by decreasing the time it takes to clean each room. At another property, an electrostatic disinfectant sprayer is being used to kill bacteria and viruses through fast coverage of complex and hard-to-reach surfaces that could be easily missed.

Front desk
The next time you order room service, it may come by robot. Robots are now making contactless deliveries directly to guestrooms. At one of our properties, “Hubert” the room-service butler provides a better guest experience by taking on tedious tasks like in-room deliveries, which frees our staff to focus on the more complex needs of the guest. Guests’ reaction to this robot has been really positive. People appreciate the convenience and enjoy the novelty of seeing a robot deliver their snacks and amenities. An added plus: Snack sales have seen a strong surge.

Food and beverage
The use of mobile ordering technology can also help in converting traditional dine-in food-and-beverage outlets to takeout and delivery outlets. This allows hotels to comply with social-distancing ordinances and keep guests safe. Guests (millennials in particular) want to view, order and pay for hotel guest services from their own device. To meet this growing demand, hotels are using cloud-based mobile ordering solutions designed specifically for hotel guest services. Our NY Garden Deli and Bistro 39 restaurants, for example, use contactless dining solutions that allow our guests to view the menu, pay at the table and much more, all contact-free.

Restaurants for many years have been trying to identify ways to be more self-service-oriented. The combination of food costs, labor costs and overhead have made profit margins razor thin. 2020, thanks to the virus, has exacerbated this challenge. Now restaurants can use QR codes as a menu, thus avoiding the printing of menus. At the same time, guests can use their own devices for the entire experience.

Final thoughts
Automated systems are beginning to deliver unprecedented value to hotel operators and guests. Robots and AI are holding costs in check while improving quality and consistency. Operators will see an increase in profitability, healthier staff and higher guest satisfaction. We have been predicting that AI and robotics are coming. Now they are here.

Robert A. Rauch is CEO and founder of RAR Hospitality.

Sarah Andersen is the business development manager at RAR Hospitality.

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