Meet SaviOne, your next hotel staff member. OK, maybe not this year, but in the not-to-distant future, SaviOne and its descendants will likely be working for you, providing service and entertaining for your hotel guests.
SaviOne is the first robot designed especially for hotels. At the time of this writing, there is a grand total of one SaviOne in service. I’m not sure whether to call it a he or a she or an it. But judging from the curves, I’ll call it a she.
Following the principles of lean management, SaviOne has been designed to handle only a few simple tasks but she can do them very well. Her favourite task is to deliver small items to guests in their rooms. Did the guest forget a toothbrush or razor? SaviOne will bring it. Does the guest need a charging cable for her iPhone 9, SaviOne will bring it (starting with the iPhone 10, the devices can be charged with air). If a picture is worth 1000 words, a video is worth even more. So watch SaviOne perform her tricks in this video.
SaviOne is learning fervently to handle room service so expect to see her offer this soon. Not sure why your club sandwich is taking so long? You’ll probably be able to track the location of your order on your smartphone or the in-room tablet. You probably used that device to place your order anyway.
The one SaviOne in service today is roaming the floors and riding the elevators at the Aloft Hotel in Cupertino, California. Very much in the heart of Silicon Valley. The reaction has been generally positive, but then again visitors to that part of the world are likely to be technology lovers.
So the question is: are the new generation hotel guests around the world prepared to accept robots? Taylor Short of Software Advice a hotel technology review site, did an extensive survey to find out what people think about robots in hotels today. The results show that around half of the population has a positive attitude about it. However when restricting the survey to millennials, or those people who came of age since 2000, the excitement level is significantly higher. For this reason, Starwood expects to introduce the robots to 100 more properties in 2015.
SaviOne’s descendents will likely be much more talented than the original. “At the moment, robots in hospitality can only serve basic functions like transporting items or serving drinks (like the robot bartenders aboard some Royal Caribbean cruises),” explained Taylor Short. “However, other feasible tasks could include helping guests check-in or out or offering concierge-type services, such as giving directions to local attractions or suggesting nearby restaurants.”
When will we see robots in European hotels? Well, some European hotels have adapted more creative uses for technology. “There aren’t any robots like SaviOne being used extensively in Europe, but Ibis Hotels have employed a more artistic automaton in Berlin, Paris and London. As guests sleep, this robot will interpret body heat, sound and movement to help it paint a picture. It’s not quite as useful as delivering items, but it shows that hotel companies are thinking about robotic technology in very creative ways.”
What uses do you see for robots in European hotels? Your comments are welcome!