Industry Update
Opinion Article28 November 2019

"Robot Rooms": How Guests Use and Perceive Hotel Robots

By Rohit Verma, Professor at Cornell School of Hotel Administration and Lina Zhong, Visiting Professor at Cornell

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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.

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