robot pile
6 months ago
 

These aren’t the hotel staff you’re looking for… Move along

Alongside augmented reality, robots in the travel industry seems to be one of the big discussion points of 2016.

In some respects, many people dislike the very idea of something mechanical like a robot being used to take over some functions in what is essentially one of the most “human” industries in modern business.

This is understandable, not least because travel is such an emotional experience for consumers – so, obviously, how can something without a grain of “feeling” be able to empathise or deal with many of the tasks that either should have or need a bit of Tender Loving Care.

Concerns over the introduction of any form of technology have not stopped the path of progress in the past, so it is more than likely that robots will play some kind of role in the future (especially if they can save a dollar or two along the way).

But forget about the general tech-heads and robot champions in the industry – what do actual consumers think?

Deals publisher Travelzoo surveyed over 6,000 travellers in eight markets around the world to try and find out how accepting they would be to a robotic world in travel.

Here are the results…

Generally, robots will be a big part of life in a few years?

  • Agree – 77%
  • Disagree – 23%

Generally, robots will make our lives better overall?

  • Agree – 73%
  • Disagree – 27%

You arrive at the reception of a hotel you have booked with some questions about both the hotel and the city you are visiting. Which of the following scenarios do you prefer? 

  • The person behind the desk is a human and can answer all your questions – 83%
  • There is a robot behind the desk and it can answer all your questions – 18%

You arrive at the reception of a hotel you have booked with some questions about both the hotel and the city you are visiting. Which of the following scenarios do you prefer?

  • The person behind the desk is a human and can answer some of your questions but not all of them – 41%
  • There is a robot behind the desk and it can answer all your questions – 59%

You arrive at the reception of a hotel. There is a robot behind the desk and it is answering all your questions correctly. Which of the follolwing scenarios do you prefer?

  • The robot looks like a human being – 46%
  • The robot looks like a machine – 54%

Would you accept the use of a robot as a hotel receptionist?

  • No, not under any circumstances – 18%
  • Yes, if a human accompanied it – 53%
  • Yes, even if unaccompanied by a human being – 29%

…and would you accept them on helpdesks in tourist information centres?

  • Agree – 66%
  • Disagree – 34%

…or a check-in desk for a hotel?

  • Agree – 62%
  • Disagree – 38%

…or at the check-in desk for an airport?

  • Agree – 62%
  • Disagree – 38%

What about taking bookings over a telephone?

  • Agree – 58%
  • Disagree – 42%

…or working as a hotel porter?

  • Agree – 73%
  • Disagree – 27%

…or cabin crew?

  • Agree – 38%
  • Disagree – 62%

The survey also asked  why consumers might accept robots as important elements of the travel experience, with better memories, faster processing of information, language considerations, assiting the human workforce, efficiency and child-friendliness all cited as positive reasons.

However, the impersonal nature of robots, communication skills and health and safety seen as megative aspects.

Travelzoo European president, Richard Singer, says:

“Right now is a very exciting moment in the history of the travel industry – groundbreaking technology is revolutionising what is possible from the perspective of customer service, entertainment and personalisation.

“Robots and artificial intelligence are making their debut on the tourism stage, and our research into global acceptance of robots working in the travel industry is largely positive.”

NB: Consumers from Germany, France, Spain, UK, Canada, Japan, China, Brazil and the US took part in the study.

NB2: Robot image via Shutterstock.

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Kevin May

About the Writer :: Kevin May

Kevin May is a senior editor and one of the co-founders at Tnooz. He was previously editor of UK-based magazine Travolution and web editor of Media Week UK from 2003 to 2005.

He has worked in regional newspapers (Essex Enquirer) and started his career in journalism at the Police Gazette at New Scotland Yard in London. He has a degree in criminology, a postgraduate diploma in magazine journalism and will be publishing his first book - a biography about electronic band, Depeche Mode - soon.

 

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