When it comes to predicting hotel trends, there’s an entire universe of décor, food, themes and technology to get your teeth stuck into. The pool of hotels truly succeeding in pushing the boundaries however is still quite small. That makes it all the more exciting to note that the island nation of Singapore is going all out to create truly high-tech and forward-thinking hotels to welcome guests to a cutting-edge new frontier in the hospitality sector.
According to Channel News Asia, this innovation has been driven by more guests, greater demands on staff and only so much of a skilled workforce to go around. It reports, “Visitor arrivals reached a record high of 16.4 million in 2016, a 7.7 per cent increase over the previous year, and this number is expected to grow further. Automation is therefore critical for hotels to sustain profitability.”
Even if your guest reservations haven’t tracked up at such a sharp incline, the realization that automation can boost profitability is one that is sure to interest hotel marketers and hoteliers right across the hospitality industry.
So, what does this glimpse into the future show us? The hotel of tomorrow will be more efficient thanks to greater uses of automation. It will also use robots and non-human workforces to carry out traditional tasks such as serving drinks. Robot waiters will deliver room service orders to guests in their hotel rooms. There’ll be fewer human members of staff, so manpower costs will be done and profitability up.
Step foot into one of Singapore’s ultra-modern hotels and you’ll already be getting a glimpse of exactly what a hotel of the future will look like and how it will run. Don’t expect a traditional reception desk or a friendly face to talk your guests through the check-in process though. This is completed online before your customers even arrive at your hotel.
The 239-room M Social hotel in Singapore brings this vision to life. World renowned designer Philippe Stark says the hotel is, “… an explosion of energy to create the joy of today’s and tomorrow’s world.” This fusion of a modern hotel with tomorrow’s innovations is personified by AURA – a helpful robot that interacts directly with guests and serves them throughout their stay.
AURA replicates functions of many front-of house hotel staff. The robot can bring guests bottles of water for example, or carry towels to sun beds around the pool. The robot can also be sent to guest rooms bearing replacement toiletries and can even serve up packed meals, replacing traditional waiters and room service personnel.
AURA can also ride elevators independently and travel around the hotel carrying out its duties in much the same way as a traditional staff member. What’s more, when AURA arrives at a guest room, it will call the room phone to let the guest know it’s outside.
M Singapore management says its guests value the services of AURA and recognize the robot’s contribution to its hotel of the future, telling Channel News Asia, “We have found that our guests, especially those under 35, greatly enjoyed AURA, as they understand that AURA’s aim is to cut waiting time and improve efficiency. During a period surveyed by our team, we found that AURA’s average time for a delivery to a guest was consistently about three minutes, compared to a human delivery time of about five minutes.
“We have also begun to automate in other areas, both in front and back office. For instance, we have installed a system to schedule room distribution for cleaning and alert staff of tasks. Another example is a kiosk that manages the breakfast queue and can enable self-service orders.”
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