Three Hospitality Technology Trends That Might Surprise You

By: Emadene Travers, J.D. Ph.D. GAC | Faculty, The Art Institute of Pittsburgh—Online Division

November 22, 2017

Connie the Robot

The robotics trend is receiving more attention than ever before. For restaurants, the trend seems to have started in China with what might be the world’s first robotic chef. 
The robot was engineered to slice noodles in a Chinese noodle bar. For hotels, the robotics revolution came a few years later. One technology currently in use is the robotic concierge.

At Hilton Worldwide, 
"Connie" the robot greets guests with directions or recommendations for local dining and tourist attractions. Connie was named after the founder of the company, Conrad Hilton.  According to USA Today, Connie has the potential to recognize and greet loyalty club members by name or provide translation services to international guests. At Starwood Hotels, there is a robotic butler named Botlr that can deliver room service to guests. Botlr works for tweets not tips.

One advantage of robotics is that restaurants and hotels can reduce their labor costs. At the same time robotics can increase efficiencies. One disadvantage is that robotics might end up displacing hospitality workers. This is controversial because customers still want a personalized, human-to-human experience. However, the concierge robot is trained to understand spoken language. It can even react with emotions depending on the situation and can learn from past experiences.


Customer Relationship Management (CRM) has been in use in the hospitality industry for a while now. However, bars and nightclubs have a particular concern—safety and security at their properties. 
Cluboid is a technology system designed specifically for bars, nightclubs, pubs, promoters, and event companies. While Cluboid offers the usual features, such as bookings, pre-orders, and table management, it does something else that is just a bit different.

As part of its CRM function, Cluboid puts together a detailed profile on customers who book reservations. The profile contains the customer’s name and contact information including date of birth and gender.  What’s different is that Cluboid can upload photos of the customer from over 20 social media sites, including Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram. It also has the ability to communicate internally between venues. 
According to les Roches, this is an important security safeguard, in the event guests who are known trouble-makers attempt to gain access to one or more locations. Cluboid can also keep a record of each customer’s booking history.


Speaking of troublesome customers, 
GuestScan is a technology system developed in the United Kingdom that offers a unique take on hospitality management. GuestScan is actually an association and a website rather than a technology system you can buy. 

How it works is that hoteliers first become members of the association. After becoming a member, the hotelier is given access to the website. On the website there is a database compiled by other members that lists the names of hotel guests who have caused trouble in the past. An hotelier who makes an inquiry can only confirm that a particular guest is on the list or not. The list itself is not available to anyone except GuestScan. Troublesome conduct includes non-payment, damage to property, abusive behavior, noise, theft of property, and fraud. 

According to their website, GuestScan does not violate U.K. privacy laws. When a complaint is made, a Compliance Officer will follow up to be sure the complaint is valid. Trouble making guests can stay in the database for two to three years or more. Guests who try to negotiate a discount or upgrade with the threat of a negative social media review are considered threatening enough to put on the list. 


These three systems are good examples of the extent to which hospitality technology is changing. Not surprisingly, there is an increased emphasis on security and operating efficiencies within hotels, restaurants, and related businesses. Whether these systems constitute excessive surveillance, loss of privacy, poor business ethics, or the disappearance of personalized service is subject to further debate. Meanwhile, the technology itself keeps changing in some surprising ways.

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By: Emadene Travers, J.D. Ph.D. GAC | Faculty, The Art Institute of Pittsburgh—Online Division

November 22, 2017