While some hotels are eliminating physical keys from the guest experience, one property is taking technology to the next level. How? Eliminating human workers. The Henn Na in Sasebo, Japan will open on July 17, and robots will man the front desk, clean the rooms and manage every other responsibility at the hotel.
“We will make the most efficient hotel in the world,” Hideo Sawada, President of Huis Ten Bosch, the theme park where the hotel will be located, said in a press conference. “In the future, we’d like to have more than 90 percent of hotel services operated by robots.”
Strange? Perhaps. Super cheap? Yes. Without the need to pay human employees, the company says it will be able to reduce costs. According to Alejandro Alba at New York Daily News, average room costs will range between 7,000 yen ($59) and 9,000 yen ($76).
Some American hotels are investing in mobile check-in capabilities, but that’s so last month. The property will use facial recognition to let guests unlock their rooms.
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Will Robots Reinvent Business?
The thought of robots delivering room service sounds completely bizarre, but the Henn Na may just be leading a path that plenty of business executives want to take. A recent survey from Harvard Business School revealed that 46 percent of the school’s alumni would rather invest in technology to fill their labor needs than hire humans.
As some businesses look to avoid dealing with real human feelings in the workplace, the general public isn’t so enthusiastic about dealing with a wave of artificial intelligence and robotic interaction. A survey from the Pew Research Center showed that 53 percent of Americans aren’t fans of wearables like Google Glass, and a very limited number expressed any excitement about the possibility of having a personal robot servant.
Still, it’s no secret that the hotel industry is grappling with an increasingly loud call to pay employees higher minimum wages. Will robots take over hotels? Will they take over the world?
Public acceptance of a robotic guest experience may be in the distant future. For a more immediate preview, check out “4 Trends That Will Shape Hotels In 2015.”