The Next Time You Order Room Service, It May Come by Robot
Hotels around the country are introducing robots to handle repetitive tasks like room service deliveries, entertaining guests, and even giving directions.
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By Nora Walsh
Jan. 29, 2018
Hotels across the country are rushing to introduce robots with the promise of enhancing the guest experience and increasing efficiency. The automated companions can do everything from make and pick up deliveries to help guests find their way around.
Aloft Cupertino in the Silicon Valley (rates from $150) was the first hotel in the United States to debut Savioke’s Relay robot in 2014. The three foot tall autonomous robot, nicknamed Botlr, weighs 90 pounds and makes deliveries throughout the hotel using multiple sensors, 3D cameras and Wi-Fi to operate the elevators. Marriott has since begun mobile robot service at four other Aloft properties.
“Botlr’s most popular guest deliveries are forgotten toiletry items, bottled water, microwave popcorn and coloring books for kids — all complimentary, of course,” said Andy Evers, Aloft Cupertino’s general manager.
Other hotels are following suit. H Hotel Los Angeles’s Relay robot, named Hannah, made 610 front desk deliveries and 42 room service deliveries, traveling a total of 50 miles, in the first three months since the hotel opened last October (rates from $249). “It’s a great timesaver for our team because no one has to leave their station to make a delivery,” said Tiffany Jassel, a manager. The robot cruises at a speed of 1.7 miles per hour and has a two-cubic-foot bin to carry items, which guests unlock by typing in a code on its 7-inch touch-screen. When a delivery is complete, the robot celebrates with a swivel dance and chirpy sounds.
The Sheraton Los Angeles San Gabriel Hotel (rates from $149), opening February 2018, will be equipped with eight Tug robots developed by Aethon. One robot will escort guests to destinations on the first floor, while the remaining seven multiuse robots will use the service elevators to deliver in-room items to guests, like their luggage, room service meals and fresh linens.
In Nevada, the Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas (rates from $259) employs Pepper, a humanoid robot from SoftBank Robotics. Located in the Sky Lobby, Pepper supports staff by handling repetitive tasks like greeting visitors, providing directions and answering property-specific questions using technology similar to Amazon’s Alexa. The four-foot robot has large eyes, lifelike gestures and facial recognition technology that allows it to discern a guest’s gender, approximate age and mood, and respond in intuitive ways to entertain guests by telling jokes and posing for selfies.
Royal Sonesta Boston (rates from $189) has a robot from Double Robotics that offers site tours and attends meetings for clients who can’t be there in person by allowing them to log in remotely using an app. They’re able to control the robot’s movements, see through its wide-angle lens cameras and communicate via a tablet screen.
In New York, The Westin Buffalo (rates from $189) uses a Relay robot to deliver wellness amenities like running shoes and fresh juices to guests who request them, and the new Luma Hotel in Times Square (rates from $399) launched Manhattan’s first Relay robot, nicknamed Alina. “She helps us provide a better guest experience by taking on tedious tasks like in-room deliveries, which frees our staff to focus on more complex needs of the guest,” said Kate Martin, the Luma’s general manager.