Could Autonomous Vehicles Solve Transportation Issues for Luxury Resorts?
According to Allied Market Research, the global luxury hotel market was valued at $95.1 million in 2020 and is projected to reach $160.5 million by 2031, growing at a CAGR of 5.1% from 2022 to 2031. This growth is due to growing demand for better service and better facilities, usually within large resorts.
Today, many luxury resorts are built to be car free. Therefore, a major service these resorts provide for guests is transportation (typically via golf cart) between the facilities of the resort, between the rooms, restaurants, and the activity facilities. However, transportation issues are one of the biggest headaches resort managements have. Here are a few reasons why:
Accidents - Drivers make mistakes and will have an accident from time to time resulting in legal issues and costs, as well as repairs, parts and possibly vehicle replacements, in addition to simply not having a golf cart when needed.
General managers have a lot going on. They need to keep an eye on many things simultaneously throughout the day to ensure that users/guests enjoy the best possible resort experience. As the day goes on, several variables can impact the availability of the transportation fleet. Without a clear view of what is going on, the GM can't make the necessary decisions to prevent unexpected interruptions from impacting the user/guest experience.Fleet management becomes more complex as carts are sent for charging, used by staff, or damaged by drivers. It is harder for managers to stay informed and make the right decisions without knowing the availability of their fleet.
Reservation of cart – When a guest or user requests a cart, they are often forced to wait a lengthy amount of time and are given no indication when the cart will arrive. On the back end, a reservation must be called in, put into the system, and then a driver must be located, who in turn needs to look for a cart that is charged and functioning. These processes take a lot of time and often there is no communication to keep the guest or user updated. Guests then get frustrated. In addition, the selection of the cart is usually random, and it can take longer to arrive at the reserved time and place if a malfunction occurs.
Shortage of drivers – Especially after COVID-19, there is now a regular shortage of drivers. Recruiting drivers, which in many cases don’t stay on the job long and consume HR and management time, requires either increasing the wage level of drivers or hiring drivers that are not as experienced who tend to be involved in more accidents, drive on restricted property or misbehave with guests.
Charging – Here’s a scene that happens regularly. The battery on the golf cart is running low, and it needs to be charged. The driver is responsible for heading to the dedicated charging station to plug in the cart and recharge the battery. The next driver gets in the cart to make an important trip, but the cart won't start. The previous driver must not have plugged the cart in properly, and now the cart is unavailable. It will have to remain at the charging station for several more hours before it is available for use again.
In this scenario, the availability of the entire fleet is compromised as other carts need to make up for the shortage. Often, staff members neglect to charge carts properly or don’t charge them at all. A small distraction or a faulty charging point could be to blame, but ultimately an incident like this can have a significant impact on the entire fleet.
Are Autonomous Vehicles the Solution?
Autonomous vehicles regularly traversing public roads will take time as the technology to do it right is still considered a complex problem. However, in many places, and luxury resorts are one category, they could be a viable solution.
Driverless, or autonomous low speed vehicles (ALSVs) in managed areas are a simpler task. Their availability dramatically improves the guest transportation issues previously discussed. Accidents will likely be less common as most accidents are due to driver error.
Access to ALSVs will improve availability of the fleet and reduce maintenance and spare part costs. Plus, with ALSVs that are connected to the cloud, management will be able to monitor the fleet, get data and KPIs on the transportation service helping to improve the service.
With ALSVs connected to a central management system, it is now possible to provide the guest with an accurate time of arrival. The adoption of ALSVs will be a game changer for resort guests, providing reliable and efficient transportation that can be counted on. In addition, a smart algorithm may calculate what is the right cart to be sent to the guest based on range and battery status.
With ALSVs a resort gains two massive benefits. It overcomes the shortage of drivers, and it saves on the cost of hiring a driver which is significantly higher than cart. All this in a 24/7 service.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Eli Doron, CTO, Carteav is an experienced high-tech entrepreneur with more than 40 years in the industry. Co-founder of RADVISION (RVSN) and Connesta, he is an expert in video domain applications.