Robots in hospitality industry. A good idea!

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Ritika Sharma / Emirates Business

Robotics is the latest marvel of technology that has invaded everything from agriculture, to transport and from medicine to education. They have seamlessly entered our roads, railway tracks, classrooms and even operation theaters.
If this was not enough of progress, Japan has recently showed the way towards a digital picture where these steel machines will successfully
replace humans in the hotel
industry. Of late, this move of Japan has caused ripples globally, stemming mixed reactions, and the same echoed at the ongoing Arabian Travel Market (ATM) 2016, the mega regional travel event being held in Dubai. If some travel professionals are welcoming the idea of having robots-run hotels in Dubai, then there are others, who are concerned about how it will alter the future of hotel industry.
“There are two aspects of the ‘robots-in-hotels’ concept, yes they (robots) are useful for the back-end operations like making bookings, handling laundry or maintaining records – but when it comes to greeting people, taking care of them, making them comfortable – human touch will never find a replacement in our industry,” Ferghal Purcell, General Manager of The Ajman Palace, told Emirates Business.
“I will never replace any human interaction in my hotel. People, who come to our hotel, are the ones who have travelled, they are tired and they come to unwind, and nothing can ever substitute the power of a warm welcome smile,” he added. Experts believe that technology can aid in flawless customer service execution ensuring accurate guest preference tracking system, but they opine that human interaction will never die.
Patrick W. Antaki, Complex General Manager at Le Meridien Al Aqah Beach Resort, Al Maha Desert Resort and Tennis & Country Club, Fujairah, told Emirates Business, “Personal touch will never go awayfrom our industry. But hotels will make strides toward balancing technology and human presence.Budget hotels might look at automation in a different way but any lavish resort will never think of losing the magic of human interaction. We can automate certain things, but not everything.”
UAE has been a pioneer in embracing new technologies in the field and Laurent A. Voivenel, CEO of Hospitality Management Holdings (HMH),believes that we might have a robot staffed hotel in Dubai soon.
Talking to Emirates Business about the same, he said, “If you ask, if a robot staffed hotel will ever come to Dubai or UAE? — I would say, yes it will. People will visit such a hotel for an experience, but I don’t think this will become the next big thing in the hotel industry because it is impossible to replicate the essence of human interaction in our field. We all understand that. It’s good to be technologically advanced, but some things should not change for the good of the industry.”

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