Within the marketing industry you should, according to Treacy and Wiersema (1996), try to excel in one of three value strategies, namely: product leadership, customer intimacy, or operational excellence. While some hotels focus on creating an intimate bond with their customers, others try to innovate and come up with concepts that might or might not be accepted by their customers. One of the most recent innovations within the hotel industry is the use of robots.
According to the British Automation and Robot Association (n.d.), there are four reasons for using robots instead of humans. These reasons are: quality improvement, improvement of working environment, better cost effectiveness, and the flexibility to change. With the hotel industry, robots could possibly be used in order to improve the working environment by taking over some of the heavier tasks like cleaning or carrying heavy bags. Furthermore, robots could save a hotel a huge amount of money.
The first hotel that started working with a robot was the Aloft Cupertino Hotel, in the heart of Silicon Valley. His name is Botlr, and he can, without any help from humans, come to your floor to assist you with items you forgot (Forbes, 2016). Hilton quickly followed by developing robot Connie, who can help you with visitor requests and give travellers more information to help them with their trip (The Street, 2016).
The Henn Na hotel in Japan even took it one step further by employing ten realistic robots to replace their staff. The robots set the lights, change room temperatures, set alarms and inform you about tomorrows’ weather. From the check-in staff to the concierges and porters, at the Henn Na hotel all these human jobs have been usurped by the newest technology trend. The robots come in different forms, from normal humans to a dinosaur (Telegraph, 2015).
However, even in the Henn Na hotel humans are not completely irrelevant. Behind the scenes there are ten humans working to quickly fix technical problems that may arise. Robot expert Chris Warmenhoven (2015) explains that robots are superior at fixing problems within their own area of expertise. However, even though robots are so called ‘self-learners’ it will never understand a problem outside of its area, simply because it doesn’t even understand that there are other concepts or areas (Hospitality Management, 2015).
For the hotel industry another major problem arises. Personal contact is extremely important for the experience a hotel customer has. It can literally make or break a customer’s trip. Related to the service-profit model, Grønholdt and Martensen (n.d.) state that: ‘’companies that achieve higher employee attitudes also achieve higher customer loyalty and are rewarded by higher profitability.’’ With this information, the question might shift from: are robots taking over the hotel industry? To: do customers wish for robots to take over the hotel industry?
So are robots really taking over the hotel industry? Chris Warmenhoven states that he thinks it might take another 200 years before robots can completely operate without the intervention of humans. Next to this, when we look at the importance of human interaction in the hotel industry, the question arises whether robots could ever fully replace humans. I personally doubt hotel customers in the future would rather talk to a robot than to a real life human. From my personal experience I know that it have always been the people who made my holidays incredible.
Whether or not robots are going to be used in hotels, they are and will always be a fascinating part of technology, and are definitely worth researching further.
Gaan robots de hotellerie veroveren? (2015, September 30). Retrieved September 18, 2016, from http://www.hospitality-management.nl/gaan-robots-de-hotellerie-veroveren-11997
Grønholdt, L., & Martensen, A. (n.d.). The service-profit chain: An empirical analysis in the hotel industry. Marketing Trends congress, 1, 1 – 10. Retrieved from http://www.marketing-trends-congress.com/archives/2016/pages/PDF/GRONHOLDT_MARTENSEN.pdf
Meet Connie, the Robot That Could Make Your Next Vacation Easier – TheStreet. (2016, March 9). Retrieved September 18, 2016, from https://www.thestreet.com/story/13488387/1/meet-connie-the-robot-that-can-help-travelers-on-their-next-trip.html
Robots could take over hotel industry by 2020 as travellers welcome assistance from automatons. (2016, March 10). Retrieved September 18, 2016, from http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/robots-could-take-over-hotel-7529303
Technology Invades Hospitality Industry: Hilton Robot, Domino Delivery Droid, Ritz-Carlton Mystique. (2016, March 18). Retrieved September 18, 2016, from http://www.forbes.com/sites/micahsolomon/2016/03/18/high-tech-hospitality-hilton-robot-concierge-dominos-delivery-droid-ritz-carlton-mystique/#7225e1d27c72
Treacy en Wiersema; Product leadership; Customer intimacy; Operational. (n.d.). Retrieved September 18, 2016, from https://www.strategischmarketingplan.com/marketingmodellen/waardestrategieen-treacy-en-wiersema/
Video: Robot hotel: inside Japan’s Henn na Hotel – Telegraph. (2015, July 16). Retrieved September 18, 2016, from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/hotels/11743467/Robot-hotel-inside-Japans-Henn-na-Hotel.html
Why use Robots? | BARA. (n.d.). Retrieved September 18, 2016, from http://www.bara.org.uk/robots/why-use-robots.html