Hotels begin testing robot butlers for guest deliveries

Global Business

In some fashion or another, robots are increasingly performing jobs once held by humans. It’s happened particularly in manufacturing, but not as much in the service industry. That could be about to change. CCTV America’s Mark Niu reported this story from Cupertino, California.

Hotels begin testing robot butlers for guest deliveries

In some fashion or another, robots are increasingly performing jobs once held by humans. It's happened particularly in manufacturing, but not as much in the service industry. That could be about to change. CCTV America's Mark Niu reported this story from Cupertino, California.

The Aloft hotel in Cupertino, California is known for testing Silicon Valley innovation. And on its premises for its first night of duty is the world’s first hotel robot butler. It’s called BOTLR, and it’s equipped with sensors and lasers that help it navigate around objects and people and adjust to different surfaces.  It is designed to bring items like snacks, razors or the morning paper to a guest’s room.

Because it doesn’t have arms, its Wi-Fi system allows it to access the elevator controls and to call a guest when it arrives at their door. After delivery, guests are encouraged to give feedback and it if it’s positive, expect a celebratory dance. After BOTLR’s job is done, there’s no need to give it a tip. You can give it a five-star rating if you’re happy with its service and you can also show appreciation the modern way, by sending a thankful tweet.

“It brings a little childhood wonder to our guests, and much like Rosie from the Jetson’s or Wall-E or R2D2, when we see guests’ reaction to it, it just brings a smile to people’s faces and it’s just something fun,” Brian McGuinness, Global Brand Leader, Starwood Hotels & Resorts said.

Some worker’s unions are not amused, saying hotels would be better off investing more in human employees.  But the CEO of Savioke, the startup company that created BOTLR, believes this robot can help make staff more productive. For this robot, it’s focused on empowering front-desk agents to do more. The goal is to allow the front-desk agents to spend more time with guests who are in the lobby and less time riding the elevator which, we think, is kind of waste of time for people.

“Technology is always changing in the world, so all of us have to adapt to the changing technology, but this particular robot is all about empowering people,” Steve Cousins, CEO of Savioke said.

BOTLR’s pilot run at the Cupertino Aloft continues through the end of the year. How well it’s received by guests will ultimately determine whether it’ll soon be navigating floors at a hotel near you.