CASE STUDY: The Garden City Hotel Enlists Smart Robotic Vacuum to Overcome Staffing Challenges

Long Island hotel found that using the robotic vacuum saved the staff time and allowed workers to focus on other important tasks.
Canon’s Whiz Commercial Robot Vacuum
Canon’s Whiz Commercial Robot Vacuum

The Garden City Hotel, a Long Island, New York’s landmark, is among many properties throughout the country to have recently experienced pandemic-related staff shortages. Searching for a solution to support and enhance its 147-year legacy of excellent guest service and spotless accommodations, hotel management directed their attention to enlisting a smart robotic vacuum to overcome the challenges of a limited staff. Watch the video to see how they support cleanliness and productivity by utilizing Whiz by SoftBank Robotics’ AI-driven platform.

A friendly solution in a challenging labor market

J. Grady Colin, Managing Director: “The Garden City Hotel is the iconic luxury hotel of Long Island and what this hotel has meant to this region has been everything. I don’t bump into anyone, anywhere I go that doesn’t have a story to tell about an event they had, a job they had, a dining experience. When you are in business 147 years, you are going to touch a lot of lives. The region has always relied on the Garden City Hotel to deliver a very high-level of luxury.

Pamela Coleman, Director of Housekeeping: “We have 269 rooms and 16 of them are suites and then we also have our catering facility.”

Rocio Jimenez, Director of Hotel Operations: “Between our food and beverage department, our catering department, our housekeeping department, we have a lot of cleaning to do that takes a lot of time – making everything perfect. A lot of detail goes into cleaning a hotel of this size.”

J. Grady Colin: “And we have always had a great staff, so finding the right people for the Garden City Hotel is one thing, but finding people over the last year and half has become more challenging.”

Merle Ayers, Director of Banquets: “We were searching high and low for a solution that would enable us to keep our spaces and our hallways clean without the manpower we may have had in our past, and the Whiz robotic vacuum was what we found.”

J. Grady Colin: “And when you are in a circumstance where your staffing is stretched, this is a big help.”

Rocio Jimenez, Director of Hotel Operations: “We decided to purchase the Whiz because after researching it, we found that it could save us time and we could use our existing staff to do other tasks and focus on other details. It cleans so effectively, much more than a regular vacuum.”

Putting the Whiz to work

Merle Ayers: “Programming the Whiz to do its routes is a few button presses on the LED screen. It’s very simple. It’s a teach and repeat technology. I position the Whiz in front of what’s called a “home location” code, it scans that code and then with a couple of button presses, I am taking it and teaching its route. When I’ve run the whole route, I take it back to its home location code, I press run, and then it goes on its way.”

"I think the evidence of the ROI is there for everyone – myself, our executive housekeeper of operations and our banquet director."
– J. Grady Collin, Managing Director

Pamela Coleman: “We have Whiz Connect on our computers in our office and that’s how we monitor the usage. At this point we are approaching 400,000 square feet of usage. We are very happy and excited to have them, and we have only had them for two months.”

Merle Ayers: “The device has really proven its worth in that it’s allowed us to be a lot more productive in the banquet department and accomplish other tasks that might have taken us longer in the past.”

Rocio Jimenez: “The guests see it working on the floors. When they come out of their room, it’s so quiet you can’t really hear it, but they see it in the banquet spaces and the public spaces and on the floors and they get kick out of it.”

Merle Ayers: “With large social gatherings coming back, our guests are still very concerned about health and safety and sanitization. To deploy that machine in front of them, they will look at it and immediately have questions and they are impressed. It’s cool to talk about how it’s not only vacuuming the rug but it’s filtering the air you are breathing in.”

Pamela Coleman: “The training with Canon Solutions America was great. The technician, the sales rep, they made us feel comfortable.”

Rocio Jimenez: “It was a thorough but quick training process. At first, we were nervous because we thought it was going to be a lot more complicated than it was to train and map out the routes and to program the Whiz. It was a lot easier than we thought.”

J. Grady Colin: When I thought about technology for the hotel, I wasn’t thinking a vacuum. I was thinking the vacuum would require you to follow up and spot clean after it, it wouldn’t hit all of the corners or all of the doorways – but it does. After we saw the 30-minute demo, we all just looked at each other and said, “This is easy.” And it’s beautiful because at the end of a Saturday night, when the wedding is over and the staff comes in to break down, we can fold the tables and push them to the side, stack the chairs and go home and let the Whiz do the rest. We come back in the morning; the carpet is clean! How wonderful is that?”  

Changing the industry

J. Grady Colin: “We are adapting. We are finding ways to get things done, but it leads to thoughts about revisiting everything you do, finding more efficient ways, and incorporating technology into that as well. Not technology that is going to displace anyone’s position but technology that’s going to make it more efficient. Having that ability to fill that void with automation, it’s easy.

“When you put the Canon name with something, you know you are getting something technologically advanced, it is going to have the service support behind it. The machine is completely dependable. The service from Canon Solutions America has been completely phenomenal – not in the sense that we required service, but they have been calling us to see how things have been going. So, to get that follow up tells you that this wasn’t just a sales process that ended; they have a curiosity to see if it’s working for us and if it is fulfilling our expectations. We are thrilled to tell them it’s exceeding our expectations. Every phone call ends with, ‘If you need anything, give us a call.’ So, what more could you ask for? I feel like they are great partners to us.”