Robot-assisted hotel services get generally high marks in a study of guests at 88 hotels in China. Guests reported making fairly frequent use of the robots, primarily for such relatively simple functions as turning on the lights and turning off the TV. Chief problems occur when the robot cannot recognize operation commands, when guests must repeat their request, and when the robot isn’t actually programmed for a particular operation. Asked what services they expect from a hotel robot, guests cited food distribution, delivering goods, handling check-in and checkout, and providing travel information and consumption recommendations. Two-thirds of customers considered that “robot rooms” present a good value, and a similar proportion were willing to make a return visit to rooms equipped with robots. Keys to the acceptance of hotel robots are that they must provide worthwhile services and be easy to use. An economic analysis of ten properties found favorable return on hotels’ investment in robot rooms, particularly those in family suites.
Rohit Verma, Ph.D., is a professor of service operations management at the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration (SHA), where he is also the coordinator for MBAMMH Dual Degree Programs, and formerly was executive director of the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research. He has published in and serves on the editorial boards of several prestigious business and hospitality journals and is co-author, co-editor, or contributor to several books related to effective management of service businesses.
Lina Zhong has a Ph. D in Human Geography from the College of Urban and Environmental Science, Peking University in China. She completed her doctoral studies at the School of Tourism and Hospitality Management, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong. She has 14 years of experience in extensive research and consultancy experiences both in mainland China and Hong Kong.