Solving The Staffing Conundrum In The Service Sector – Employ Robots!

A new hotel has opened in Japan that is entirely staffed by robots.

Gone are the issues of staff arriving late, leaving early, having excessively long tea breaks, spending company time gossiping and stealing the pens! This is a serious attempt by the hotel’s owner to reduce costs.

The Henn na Hotel, owned by Hideo Sawada, is part of an amusement park and is using it a vehicle for utilising technology and achieving efficiency. The ‘staff’ includes a dinosaur-shaped receptionist robot that speaks in English and one that speaks Japanese, shaped like a woman with blinking lashes. The Concierge has voice recognition and can deliver a standard script which includes meal times. It cannot, however, order a taxi or perform other basic tasks that a human colleague can do.

The visitor still has to punch a button on the desk, and type in information on a touch panel screen. The hotel makes use of facial recognition technology, instead of the standard electronic keys, by registering the digital image of the guest’s face during check-in. Robots, it turns out, are not good at finding lost keys!

The hotel is priced at the bargain end of the spectrum starting at 80 Yen, a low price in Japan, where a stay in one of the nicer hotels can easily cost twice or three times that much.

Luggage is handled by the robots. A giant robotic arm places the guest’s luggage into a secure box in Reception – this is then retrieved when the guest wants it back. This is called the Robot Cloak Room.

In the hotel’s rooms, a lamp-size robot in the shape of a fat pink tulip called Tuly answers simple questions like, “What time is it?” and “What is the weather tomorrow?” You can also tell it to turn the room lights on or off. There are no switches on the walls.

The concept has still some way to go before it becomes TOTALLY robotic as the facility still relies on humans for security. Real people are monitored by camera to ensure thefts do not occur and that the guests are kept safe. There are ambitious plans for drones to deliver food and snacks – but this is still some way off!

As yet robots cannot make the beds!

However sickness and absence levels remain at record lows!

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