Employee of the Month: This Japanese Hotel Provides Excellent Service with Robot Employees
It’s not surprising if the country Japan comes to mind at the mention of the word ‘robot.’ Japanese technology is way ahead by many years; the country is already adopting user-friendly robots in its hospitality sector.
There are robots in Japan that care for senior citizens, babysit, or walk a dog. Interestingly, Japan has gone as far as running entire hotels with the help of a largely robotic staff. We can imagine you wondering how they do it. Well, let’s find out!
Evolution From Known to Unknown
Before recently, robots attending humans had been limited to the realm of sci-fi movies. However, in 2015, the first robot hotel was opened in Japan—it is called the Henn-na Hotel.
Henn-na Hotel is located in the Nagasaki Prefecture as part of a theme park. The Huis Ten Bosch theme park was started as a replication of Dutch architectural heritage and culture on Japanese soil— kind of like the Chinatowns experienced in the US.
A Symbiotic Coexistence
Huis Ten Bosch opened its gates to the public in 1992. However, it struggled financially along the line. To spice up the many attraction that brought visitors to the theme park, the director decided to liaise with the CEO of Henn-na Hotel.
Luckily, the prospect of staying at a hotel run by robots soon brought about a rise in the number of visitors to the Huis Ten Bosch. The hotel’s staff is made up of 50% robots, with the founder looking to increase the figure to 90%.
How in the World Do Robots Run a Hotel?
Humans provide several services in the hospitality sector, particularly hotels. There’s room service, cleaning of suites, welcoming and booking guests, handling their luggage, and many more duties.
Looking at the long list, it is a truly bold step to use robots to relieve them of some of these activities. Yes, some, but not all. There are still humans working at the Henn-na Hotel, but largely as part of a support or maintenance team.
Booking a Room at a Robot Hotel
When you walk up to the entrance of the Henn-na Hotel, the door slides open automatically, but of course, you’re used to that. Then, you walk to the front desk and are welcomed by two unusual receptionists.
The reception is manned by an android woman and a robotic velociraptor. No worries if you’re not fluent in Japanese—the velociraptor speaks English. Room prices at Henn-na vary between $60 and $153 per night, depending on the season.
Innovative Communication and Suite Access
Of the over 100 robots working at Henn-na Hotel, a sizable number can interact with guests not just in Japanese, but also in English. Interestingly, with the help of their AI technology, many of the robots are already learning other languages.
Also, losing your hotel key card will not be a problem. That’s because at check-in, your face gets scanned, and you open your room door using face recognition technology.
The Joy of Having an In-Room Assistant
Gone are the days when you have to call the hotel front desk each time you need room service. In each room at Henn-na Hotel, Chu-ri-can, your in-room assistant, helps with basic needs with just a voice command.
Chu-ri-can will help you order your meal, change the TV channel, or stream a movie. You can even have it wake you in the morning with a soothing alarm.
No Need to Keep Spare Change for Tips Handy
Here in the US, it is a habit to tip hotel staff. However, that would be unnecessary at a robot hotel like Henn-na. But, while they don’t accept tips, the hotel robots ask for your review.
The review helps engineers gauge the performance of the robots by collecting data on the rating left by humans that interacted with them. The review is easy—guests simply select the number of stars to award a robot by tapping its screen.
You’ll Never Have to Get Out of Bed to Turn On the Heater
Henn-na Hotel has another interesting feature—in-room temperature regulation. With the help of advanced technology, the room can sense your body temperature as it changes and adjust the room temperature accordingly.
This technology is energy-efficient, as it is powered by solar energy. This feature is definitely the height of futuristic accommodation, but experts tell us that the adoption of technology will get even better in the future.
Henn-na Hotel, A World Record Holder
In 2016, a year after the grand opening of Henn-na Hotel, the facility was recognized by The Guinness Book of World Records as the first hotel in the world to be staffed by robots.
Presently in Japan, there are just two robot hotels. However, the managers at Huis Ten Bosch Park are considering opening thousands more and may even build similar hotels overseas.