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Why Robotics Integration Should Be Your Next Investment

While restaurants focus on service solutions, hotels are using robots to solve the housekeeping and room service labor shortage.
robot in hotel lobby
While restaurants focus on service solutions, hotels are using robots to solve the housekeeping and room service labor shortage.
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We are in the midst of an AI revolution. Technological advancements, increased acceptance of automated solutions, labor shortages and economic recovery have caused the stars to align for AI and robotics. According to the International Data Corporation and Precedence research, global spending on AI-centric systems will increase 27 percent in 2023 to reach $154 billion while the robotics market is expected to grow with a CAGR of 12.29 percent in the next seven years, exceeding $225 billion in 2030. These staggering statistics underscore a substantial shift toward broader acceptance of smarter business solutions that positively impact employee happiness, retention and bottom-line growth.


Let’s talk labor

Restaurants, hotels and most hospitality-focused businesses have been hit hard by post-pandemic labor shortages. The problem is not a lack of qualified workers, but a lack of desire to return to a hospitality workforce still on the mend. As the pandemic raged, hordes of hospitality workers shifted to in-office or at-home jobs, leaving a large labor gap to be filled, especially as tourism returns to pre-pandemic levels. According to a January 2023 American Hotel & Lodging Association survey of more than 500 hoteliers, 79 percent of U.S. hotels reported staffing shortages, with 22 percent indicating “severe” levels. The most critical shortage is in housekeeping - 43 percent identified it as the top hiring need. Increased wages, flexibility and incentives are common tactics for attracting and retaining hotel staff, but despite these efforts, 81 percent of respondents were unable to fill open positions.

When robots and AI are suggested as labor solutions, the pushback is frequent. “They’re taking our jobs,” is a common refrain. The reality is yes, they will be fulfilling roles that were previously held by humans, but it’s not as grim as it seems. As humans prioritize more challenging, brain-engaging work responsibilities, jobs like cleaning, housekeeping and bussing tables become undesirable – and that’s where robots come in.

Robots in hospitality

In the restaurant industry, delivery bots are commonly used to bus tables and run food and drinks to seated guests, which frees human servers to provide stellar guest service. In fact, business owners have reported that robot integration led to increased server tips and decreased stress levels, resulting in happier employees and more satisfied guests.

Just like humans, cleaning robots come in many shapes, sizes and uses. Some are sized for cleaning hotel rooms and lobbies, while others are for warehouses and storage spaces. They can mop and vacuum autonomously, and deliver detailed reports at the end of their ‘shift.’ Multifloor delivery robots can integrate with existing elevator systems to deliver items directly to guest rooms in pin-coded compartments, ensuring food is presented safely to guests

In addition to delivery and cleaning robots, customer service robots offer multifaceted integrations. They can converse in more than two dozen languages, answer frequently asked questions, check guests into hotel rooms and even help banking customers with in-branch services. Robots can guide travelers to their airport terminal, leads guests through art exhibits and can be a mobile security camera. With nearly limitless capabilities, robotics integration can be implemented to solve a wide range of business needs.

Best practices for robotics integration

With their vast potential, business owners considering the use of a robot should tap into a full-scope robotics integrator that can customize the robot to specific business needs, floorplan, budget and more. The ideal integrator is one that offers:

  • A wide-ranging portfolio boasting multiple manufacturers for each robotics solution (cleaning, delivery, service, etc.). Identifying the right robot starts with a strong use case and ends with budget and infrastructure.
  • Close partnerships with manufacturers.
  • The ability to repair, service and install onsite. Franchised integrators can respond to same-day customer needs, eliminating hours on hold or waiting days for answers.
  • Thorough classes, training and standard operating procedures on how to use the robot and perform regular maintenance.
  • A consultative team that asks questions about the building, space, customers and the major functions that need solving. A strong integrator will consider the needs the robot will fill and will suggest products and plans based on those objectives.
  • White glove delivery and setup to ensure an easy integration from day one. A robot isn’t a new set of cookware or something that is ready to go out of the box. It’s important to find a trusted integrator with a large client portfolio to ensure the best service and return on investment.

In the same way jobs have always adapted and evolved, they will continue to do so amid the AI and robotics revolution. When the car was invented, horse and buggy repairmen had to adapt or lose their business. New jobs emerged to support the new automotive industry because humans do not stop evolving – they adapt and overcome. When jobs become less desirable, technology fills the gaps and allows humans to continue pushing forward toward the next big thing.

About the Author

Elad Inbar is Founder & CEO of RobotLAB. RobotLAB has deployed 10,000+ robots with use cases applicable to hospitality, offering solutions for delivery, cleaning, guest service and more.

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