Starwood’s Aloft Hotels and cruise company Royal Caribbean recently announced plans to introduce robot helpers to their staff lineup, and it’s possible other hospitality companies follow suit. The Starwood robot, “Boltr,” helps out at the check-in desk, while the Royal Caribbean robot mixes drinks. “This is just another example of how hoteliers explore and experiment with new ways to meet our guests’ needs,” says an American Hotel & Lodging Industry spokesperson.
Although easy to brush off the new technology as a hyped PR play, the announcements do bring up questions about the feasibility of robot intelligence in the service industry and its implications for guests and hotel staff. “There is no question that this is an exciting time in our industry. We applaud Starwood’s program, which follows a long tradition of innovation in our industry,” an American Hotel & Lodging Industry spokesperson says. “This is just another example of how hoteliers explore and experiment with new ways to meet our guests’ needs.”
Unions representing hotel staff, however, seemed less enthused. The New York Hotel Trades Council had no comment about the introduction of the new technology at hotels, but UK workers’ union Unite has called Aloft’s Boltr a “nifty little gimmick.”