3D printed food, jelly fish chips or shapeshifting pasta? Chefs and hoteliers need to constantly reinvent themselves in an endless fight to awe guests. Many hotels are using new, cutting-edge technology to make their guest’s stay not only more comfortable, but also memorable.
The Henn-na Hotel in Japan is run entirely by robots! After a day of exploring overcrowded Japanese cities, hotelier Hideo Sawada thought his guests could use a break from human interaction. Not only does reception staff look like humans, they also speak multiple languages and of course they don’t need to sleep. Robot staff is very efficient.
Besides the receptionists, the hotel also accommodates the guests with their own personal “room robot” called Churi. Churi is a voice activated assistant that answers all of your questions, supposedly. The hotel also offers a service which lets the guests use their phone that’s connected with the hotel’s wifi as their own personal hotel room key.
This proposes a few worrying questions: will robots replace hotel staff in the upcoming years? Will hospitality use its accommodating human touch? Have we become so unattached to other people, we feel more at ease interacting with machines?
We don’t think so. After only two months (!), the hotel fired half of their robot staff. Replacing human staff by robots seemed like a good idea at first, but eventually these robots caused way more problems than the hotel could solve.
The robots were not able to answer guests’ questions, got stuck trying to pass each other and often people had to do the work for the robots as the robots were not able to. Not only did the robots struggle with their daily tasks, guests who stayed at the Henn-na Hotel also reportedly missed human warmth, charm and friendliness.
Of course, no robot could ever replace a human regarding real emotions and empathy, and that’s exactly the reason why the hospitality industry could never completely do without humans. After all, it’s the people who work at hotels and restaurants who can truly make a guests stay delightful and memorable.