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24 Mar

Robots Could be Staffing Hotels by 2020

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Almost two thirds of travellers in Asia, Europe, North America and South America would be comfortable with robots being used in the travel industry, a new study has found.

Travelzoo conducted the research as part of its Future of Travel project, a study of consumer acceptance of robots in the travel and tourism sector.  It found that nearly 80% of the 6,000+ travellers surveyed expect robots to play a big part in their lives by 2020.

The main advantages respondents saw in robots were related to general efficiency, data retention and recall.  More than three-quarters thought robots would be better than humans at handling data (81%) and dealing with different languages (79%), and 76% believed robots would have better memories.  81% of respondents selected their untiring energy as an advantage.

“Right now is a very exciting moment in the history of the travel industry – groundbreaking technology is revolutionising what is possible from the perspective of customer service, entertainment and personalisation,” Richard Singer, Travelzoo’s European President, said.

“Robots and artificial intelligence are making their debut on the tourism stage, and our research into global acceptance of robots working in the travel industry is largely positive.”

However, he added:  “While the advent of technology such as robot butlers and bartenders is hugely exciting, it’s also very clear from our research that consumers see the combination of robots and humans working in tandem in customer-facing roles as the ideal solution.

“Consumers still want humans in the picture, as otherwise there is a genuine fear that cultural nuances, humour and irony will be missed and the holiday experience could become too impersonal.  If we don’t respect the desire for the human touch, we risk ‘robophobia’ setting in, when in fact technology can significantly improve the holiday experience when used appropriately.”

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