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The Coming Robot-ification of Hospitality Is Near

@SamShankman

Aug 13, 2014 7:00 am

Skift Take

Robots won’t “free up” human talent as much as they will replace it when they prove to be more labor efficient and cost effective.

— Samantha Shankman

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Aloft Hotels

A guest interacts with Aloft Hotels' new "Botlr." Aloft Hotels


Although making employees sing and dance for tips worked for Coldstone Creamery, it’d probably meet more backlash in the hospitality industry.

That’s why Starwood‘s Aloft brand is employing a robot for the job instead.

The “Boltr” named A.L.O. will deliver room service, aid the check-in process during rush periods, and move towels and linens from the laundry room to guest rooms and fitness centers. A.L.O. was created by robotics firm Savioke, which builds autonomous robots for the services industry.

The introduction of a “Boltr” is an obvious press play on Aloft’s end. The robot will work for reviews and tweets, instead of trips, and will do a small dance when it receives positive reviews. Customers will help spread awareness of the Aloft brand via social media.

Without any obvious humor, Starwood global brand leader Brian McGuinness describes the robot as follows, “A.L.O. has the work ethic of Wall-E, the humor of Rosey from The Jetsons and reminds me of my favorite childhood robot, R2-D2. We are excited to have it join our team.”

The entire Aloft press release reads somewhat like a joke: “Prior to its role at Aloft, A.L.O. studied at Savioke—a new company which the robotics community has been eagerly anticipating for this first class of robots— where it double majored in rudimentary tasks and hospitality.”

Joke or not, a press release introducing a robot to staff is a scary look at what the future of hospitality could hold. With check-in kiosks replacing front desks and tablets replacing restaurant waiters, the travel experience is becoming increasingly inhuman — even if it is becoming more personalized in the process.

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