In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are many reasons to enhance our understanding and use of AI and AI-driven robotics. The shifting hotel service landscape offers an opportunity for hoteliers to better serve and delight guests in innovative ways through AI and robotics. The application of AI and robotics in hotels represents a new service concept and an emerging research field.
COVID-19 is highly contagious via person-to-person transmission, and people have been urged to decrease personal contact and increase physical distance. The COVID-19 outbreak can thus be expected to accelerate the penetration of AI and robotics technology into the hospitality industry.
Specifically, more hotels are likely to adopt the use of “unmanned” devices and robots to provide a completely contactless service. It is anticipated that robot receptionists, facial scan check-ins, voice guest control, robot delivery, robot concierge assistants, and other contactless services will begin to replace human-to-human contact services in the near future.
Right now, the use of thermal imaging, facial recognition and AI can provide a system that not only checks the temperature of guests when they first arrive at a hotel but also continually monitors your guests in a totally unobtrusive manner while they move normally around communal areas such as dining areas, stairways and lifts. If a guest develops an abnormal temperature during their stay, not only can that person be located and checked quickly by a medical professional for possible virus infection, the AI can also look back since that guests arrival and find other persons who they have been in close contact with. Using AI in this way greatly enhances the chances of preventing an infection from spreading.
Studies have discussed AI and robotics usage in hotels from various perspectives. For example, it has been indicated that service innovation using robots can improve hotels’ sustainable competitiveness.Despite recent advances, researchers are now diving deeper into the applications of mechanical AI, thinking AI, and feeling AI for service delivery, service creation, and service interaction at hotels. More specifically, different types of AI (mechanical, thinking, and feeling) might open up distinct commercial opportunities at the intersection of health crises and hotel.
In the context of COVID-19 and similar health crises, mechanical AI can be adopted in hotels to complete cleaning and sanitisation tasks or to assist hotel staff’s duties. For example, robots can monitor the cleanliness of high-traffic areas, such as the amount of dirt or debris in hallway corridors and elevators, and alert the cleaning staff of locations in need of attention.
As the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences have led to fears, worries, and anxiety among tourists, it is especially important to show empathy and understanding in hotel services and to delight customers during this challenging period. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic there has been an increased interest in travel forms that contribute to environmental sustainability and harmony between people and nature. Accordingly, hotels should accommodate this public sentiment by formulating eco-friendly strategies and green practices in response to travelers’ increased awareness of, and concerns for, the environment.
Particularly the use of environmentally friendly or ‘green’ cleaning products is an important step forwards. Not only do products such as Ozone Water Sanitizers directly protect the ecosystem from exposure to harmful and toxic chemicals, they greatly reduce the amount of disposable plastic waste produced, and in reducing the transport of chemical cleaning products and the amount of hot water required for cleaning they also reduce your carbon footprint
In a public health crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic, the virus is transmitted not only between guests and hotel service employees but also between guests themselves. Hence Hoteliers need to consider how technology such as AI and AI-driven robotics could guarantee social distancing among hotel guests in times of epidemics, as well as how hotels could institute effective physical distancing measures among guests. AI Facial recognition systems with venue occupancy control, social distancing and crowd density monitoring are available now and can fulfill these requirements.
It would be worthwhile to consider how certain medical hotel attributes (e.g., staff members with expert healthcare knowledge) can be incorporated into hotels to offer greater value for guests. It is also worth considering whether these healthcare-related features might influence the tourists’ decision-making process when they choose which destinations and venues to visit..