‘Robot Butlers’ Haven’t Impressed Hotel Guests Very Much: J.D. Power

by John Harper

It’s been a few years now since hotels started experiencing with so-called ‘robot butlers’ to take care of guests in lieu of room service staff. The android service workers have made for great headlines, but according to at least one survey, hotel guests have been less than impressed.

J.D. Power and Associates, the consumer research firm that analyzes satisfaction with everything from cars to economy class vacations, recently started measuring hotel satisfaction against the presence of robot butlers.

Initial survey results show hotel customers nonplussed by the bots.

Previously: Ritz-Carlton Blows Through Customer Satisfaction Record — J.D. Power

hotel robot butler

Shanghai-based Sanbot’s King Kong Robot is marketed for hotel service, among other things. Image by QIHAN Technology | Wikimedia Commons.

The robots can cost upwards of $2,000 per month to lease, but are versatile enough to take orders (via a tablet) and deliver hot and cold food and beverage items to rooms. They also don’t expect tips.

Just six percent of the more than 50,000 hotel customers surveyed this past year encountered the robots. A few major hotel chains, including some Starwood Aloft locations, the LAX Marriott Residence Inn and at least one Renaissance Hotel (Las Vegas), have toyed with some type of service robots.

The general manager at Chicago’s EMC2 hotel, which started offering robot butlers last year, told Travel Weekly that guests favored the robots over human counterparts.

“When both robots are in use from a high call volume and we have to send a human up, people actually get annoyed,” GM Christine Wechter told TW in January.

The robots did not strongly correlate with improved guest satisfaction scores, though, according to J.D. Power’s Jenni Corwin, who leads hotel research.

“The robot butlers didn’t get the same lift (in satisfaction scores) as other technologies offered,” Corwin said. “Guests perhaps found them interesting, but it didn’t correlate strongly with improved guest satisfaction.”

Other more mundane gadgets, like smart televisions and room control tablets, did more to entice positive surveys responses, Corwin said.

aloft hotel robot butler

The lobby at Starwood’s Aloft Abu Dhabi. Aloft hotels have started offering robot butlers to provide room service at some locations.

In general, technology was less influential in overall customer satisfaction scores than in years past.

“A lot of technology is becoming more or less standard, and doesn’t provide the wow factor that really makes a difference in how people rate their hotel,” Corwin said. “Less common tech, like in-room tablets that control lights, curtains and connect to room service, had a greater effect than things like flat-panel televisions.”

Hotel robots might be rare, but for now the novelty of in-room robot service appears to be just that.

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Jay July 24, 2018 - 6:36 pm

Robot Butlers – No thank you! I already hate it when calling companies and having to deal with their idiotic and time wasting auto response/artificial intelligence system, so I definitely don’t want to be interacting with a machine/robot.

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