The Robot Hotel: A sign of things to come?

3rd June, 2015

Human innovation has been and always will be revolved around making our lives better, from the wheel to the washing machine all have been designed to make our tasks easier. In July the world will see another milestone in human innovation. The Henn-na Hotel (meaning Evolve Hotel) in Japan will open its doors to guests. The hotel is one of a new bread of ‘Smart’ hotels, where technology and automation are integrated into the day to day operation of the establishment. The purpose of the hotel is to achieve ‘ultimate productivity’, by this they mean streamlining processes that have existed for decades, reducing labour costs and giving guests a truly customised experience. Most of the technology in the Henn-na Hotel is already in use by others but unlike them, the Henn-na Hotel implements technology at the core of its service. In an increasingly digital world, it begs the question, how will new technology affect the hotel industry?

New technology in the hotel industry

Robot Staff:
Whilst it may still sound like the stuff from a Hollywood sci-fi, robot staff are already here. Several hotels currently use robots in guest interaction roles, ranging from reception desk staff to room service. Aside from the long-term cost benefit, robot staff are simple to update, adding new languages and information can take a matter of seconds. With the availability of the internet of things robot staff can be sent direct request from guests via their smart phone at any time or place. Robot staff have the ability to work 24 hours a day, 365 days a year none stop without a drop in performance and with huge memory banks, systems will be able to remember guests from visit to visit even if they are years apart.

Video source: On Demand News

Automated Check-in:
Checking in has always been a frustratingly longer than necessary process, having to exchange various documents and information can take up to half an hour. Surprisingly there are few automated check-in services currently available despite the technology and framework required already in place. Using Smart phones or tablets users will be able to use biometrics (already in use in apples newer products by way of the fingerprint scanner) to check into their hotel room. The user could save all their booking information to their device, via an app or webpage and when needed, simply activate the check-in function. This sort of technology would lead itself to individual hotel chains to create their own check-in app where users can have their own account. User accounts could be customised to meet individual needs upon booking and would be available across different hotels to ensure the visitor has a truly personal experience.

Smart phone room key:
Going one step further, some hotels are completely bypassing the check- process. We’ve already witnessed the decline of the metal key but are we also set to move past the key card? Using Smart phones and tablets users can book in-app or online, receive their room details, number etc. then simply walk into the hotel and open their door with their mobile device. The argument also exists that this is even more secure than the current key card system as it requires pass code protection.

What does this new technology mean for the future of the hotel industry?

There are many skeptics of automated technology which argue that it destroys jobs and takes away from the person to person interaction that the hotel industry was built upon. Are we going to see all hotel staff replaced by robots? Unlikely, there will always be a need for human staff to cater for guests. Technology has already begun to make the industry more effective and lead to a better experience for customers. It may be a while before the kind of technology seen in the Henn-na Hotel is rolled out across the majority of establishments due to current pricing and availability. Needless to say, technological integration of automated systems and robotics should not be far from a hotel owners mind and with tech prices falling and employment costs on the rise it seems the industry has only one direction to travel.

With new technology being implemented, new risks will inevitably emerge. Our experienced advisors have a wealth of knowledge on the risks a hotel, guesthouse or B&B face in day to day operations. For a quick and easy quote call us on 0800 042 0401 or visit our hotel insurance page for more information on our comprehensive policies. For other service industries you can browse through our insurance page to find your industry.