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Robots, Artificial Intelligence and Service Automation in Hotels



Purpose This paper presents a review of the current state and potential capabilities for application of robots, artificial intelligence and automated services (RAISA) in hotel companies. Design/methodology/approach A two-step approach was applied in this study. First, the authors make a theoretical overview of the robots, artificial intelligence and service automation (RAISA) in hotels. Second, the authors make a detailed overview of various case studies from global hotel practice. Findings The application of RAISA in hotel companies is examined in connection with the impact that technology has on guest experience during each of the five stages of the guest cycle: pre-arrival, arrival, stay, departure, assessment. The role of RAISA in hotel management is not explicit. Research implications Its implications can be searched with respect to future research. It deals with topics such as how different generations (guests and employees) perceive RAISA in the hotel industry and what is the attitude of guests in different categories of hotels (luxury and economy) towards the use of RAISA. It also shows what is the attitude of different types of tourists (holiday, business, health, cultural, etc.) and what kinds of robots (androids or machines) are more appropriate for different types of hotel operations. Practical implications Its implications are related to the improvement of operations and operational management, marketing and sales, enhancement of customer experience and service innovation, training and management. Originality/value This research paper complements and expands research on the role of RAISA in the hotel industry and makes some projections about the use of technologies in the future.
Citation: Lukanova, G. and Ilieva, G. (2019) Robots, Artificial Intelligence and
Service Automation in Hotels. In S. Ivanov and C. Webster (eds.), Robots, Artificial
Intelligence, and Service Automation in Travel, Tourism, and Hospitality. Bingley:
Emerald Publishing Limited, 157-183.
Georgina Lukanova
University of Economics Varna, “Knyaz Boris I” 77
Department of Tourism Economics and Organization
Georgina Lukanova has PhD in Tourism. Currently she works as an associated professor at University of
Economics Varna. She is lecturer in Hotel management, Restaurant management, Service management in
tourism, Franchising in hospitality. Her scientific fields of interest are management and operations in hospitality,
innovative technologies in tourism and hospitality, TNCs in hospitality. She has participated in a number of
research projects such as “The Application of Innovative Technologies in Hotel Service”, “Application of
timeshare in the Bulgarian Black sea coast”, “Tourist profiling of the municipality” funded by the University of
Economics Varna. She also has experience in the hotel's operations since she has worked in high-class hotels on
the Bulgarian Black Sea coast. Galina Ilieva
Astera Hotel & SPA, Golden Sands, Varna
Front office manager
Galina Ilieva has PhD in Tourism and master degree in English Philology and Tourism. Currently she
works as a lecturer in English at the College of Tourism in Varna and Front Office Manager in hotel and SPA
“Astera” in Golden Sands. She also lectures on marketing in tourism and technology in hospitality services in
University of Economics - Varna. Her scientific fields of interest are marketing in tourism and innovative
technologies, intercultural communication and encounter staff, gambling tourism and contemporary forms of
tourism. She has participated in a number of research projects such as “The Application of Innovative Technologies
in Hotel Service” and “Intercultural communication as a factor for sustainable tourism" funded by the University
of Economics Varna; “Update of the National Strategy for Sustainable Development of Tourism in the Republic
of Bulgaria 2014-2030“ funded by the Ministry of Tourism and “Research of competitiveness of Varna
Municipality as a tourist destination” funded by Municipality of Varna.
This paper presents a review of the current state and potential capabilities for application
of robots, artificial intelligence and automated services (RAISA) in hotel companies.
A two-step approach was applied in this study. First, the authors make a theoretical
overview of the robots, artificial intelligence and service automation (RAISA) in hotels.
Second, the authors make a detailed overview of various case studies from global hotel practice.
The application of RAISA in hotel companies is examined in connection with the impact
that technology has on guest experience during each of the five stages of the guest cycle: pre-
arrival, arrival, stay, departure, assessment. The role of RAISA in hotel management is not
Research implications
Its implications can be searched with respect to future research. It deals with topics such
as how different generations (guests and employees) perceive RAISA in the hotel industry and
what is the attitude of guests in different categories of hotels (luxury and economy) towards the
use of RAISA. It also shows what is the attitude of different types of tourists (holiday, business,
health, cultural, etc.) and what kinds of robots (androids or machines) are more appropriate for
different types of hotel operations.
Practical implications
Its implications are related to the improvement of operations and operational
management, marketing and sales, enhancement of customer experience and service
innovation, training and management.
This research paper complements and expands research on the role of RAISA in the
hotel industry and makes some projections about the use of technologies in the future.
Hospitality is a century-old tradition activity, which has developed very dynamically
since the beginning of the 21st century. At present stage, a number of quantitative and
qualitative changes occur as a result of the aggregate influence of different socioeconomic
factors. The trend that the hotel superstructure significantly exceeds the volume and the growth
of tourism demand imposes as a dominant one (Dabeva & Lukanova, 2017). The formed
overcapacity greatly exacerbates the competition in hospitality and leads to relatively high
standards of basic services and products. Therefore, the efforts of the hotel organizations are
less focused on what they offer (because in most cases the provided services and goods have
similar characteristics for the same types and categories of hotels), and more on how they offer
it (Lukanova, 2014). Modern tourists are orientated towards offers, for which they are sure, that
the services in the destination, the experiences both outdoors and indoors and the hospitality of
the local community are on high quality level, and are worth the price (Marinov, 2015). That is
why in today's highly competitive environment, innovation can be defined as the most
important component of the corporate strategy of a hotel company, because it gives direction
to its evolution (German & Muralidharan, 2001). The application of new technologies such as
robots, artificial intelligence and service automation (RAISA), leads to unprecedented changes
in the way hotels cater to their guests. RAISA open in front of hotel companies big opportunities
to improve operations, increase productivity and ensure a consistent level of quality (Ivanov,
Webster & Berezina, 2017).
In the framework of this study, we focus on the application of RAISA in hotel services.
These technologies are based on automation, which in a broader sense can be seen as a physical
substitution of human labor Today, automated technologies are widely used in both
manufacturing and service industries. By service automation we mean the process of using
machines to perform a certain sequence of operations when providing a particular service
(Collier, 1983). From the service provider’s perspective, service automation saves costs and
improves operations and management (Kattara & El Said, 2014; Ivanov, Webster & Berezina,
2017). At the same time, service automation is the basis of self-service technologies through
which part of the process of producing and delivering the service is transferred to the customer.
Self-service technologies can be defined as service delivery method, which allow the customer
to become a producer/coproduer of the service without the need for mediation of service staff
(Beatson, Coote & Rudd, 2006; Beatson, Lee & Coote, 2007; Bitner, Brown & Meuter, 2000;
Bitner, Ostrom & Meuter, 2002; Burke, 2002; Curran & Meuter, 2005; Salomann, Kolbe &
Brenner, 2006; Girman, Keusch & Kmec, 2009). A modern example of such technologies are
mobile applications, virtual reality, digital kiosks and others.
Artificial intelligence is associated with the ability of machines to understand and use
human language and then continue to work on their own. Modern AI is applied in many spheres
of public life for various purposes such as reasoning, knowledge, learning, communication,
perception, planning, etc. (Hill, Ford & Farreras, 2015; Barra, 2013; Bollier, 2017). AI is an
essential component of robotic technology.
In the specialized literature, robots are defined as “intelligent physical devices” (Chen
& Hu, 2013, p. 161) with a certain degree of autonomy, mobility, and sensory capabilities that
allow them to perform intended tasks (International Organization for Standardization, 2012;
Murphy et al., 2017; Qureshi & Sajjad, 2017; Tan, Mohan, & Watanabe, 2016; Ruocco, 2013).
In general, robots can be classified into two main types: industrial robots and service robots
(International Organization for Standardization, 2012). Industrial robots can be fixed or mobile
and perform a variety of industrial operations (Thrun, 2004; Colestock, 2005; Pires, 2007;
Vaussard et al., 2014), including in the military (Szegedi, Koronváry, Békési, 2017). Service
robots, as the name suggests, are designed to perform useful tasks, which are people-oriented,
through physical and social interactions (Ivanov, Webster & Berezina, 2017). For its part,
service robots are divided into personal for non-commercial use by individuals (domestic
servant robot, automated wheelchair, personal mobility assist robot, and pet exercising robot)
and professional - used for commercial purposes by companies (cleaning robot for public
places, delivery robot in offices or hospitals, fire-fighting robot, rehabilitation robot and surgery
robot in hospitals” (Ivanov, Webster & Berezina, 2017: 1503).
1. Guest experience, guest cycle and RAISA
Research in the field of hospitality and technology defines the improved guest
experience as one of the main advantages of hotel technology applications (Brewer, Kim,
Schrier, & Farrish, 2008; Law, Buhalis, & Cobanoglu, 2014; Bilgihan, Smith, Ricci, Bujisic,
2016). The management of customer experience focuses on operations and processes orientated
to the needs of the individual customers. Its aim is to turn satisfied hotel customers into loyal
ones and then from loyal customers to hotel advocates (Gentile, Spiller & Noci, 2007; Verhoef,
Lemonb, Parasuraman, Roggeveen, Tsiros & Schlesinger, 2009; Botha & Rensburg, 2010;
Klaus & Maklan, 2013). Although consumer experience has been discussed since the mid-
1980s, in its present form the guest experience is conceptualized by Pine and Gilmore (1999)
in their book Experience Economy. The authors present experiences as a new economic
"supply", the next step after goods and services, which they call "development of economic
value". Researchers' views on the content aspects of consumer experience vary. For example,
Pine and Gilmore (1999) systematize customer experiences in four categories: entertainment,
knowledge, aesthetics and escape (of reality), which combine differently according to the nature
of the products. Schmitt (2003) deduces five elements:
sensitivity which satisfies the need for aesthetics;
feelings which are associated with perceptions of fun and pleasure;
thinking which satisfies the desire to expand knowledge and learn new things;
action which is associated with the lifestyle;
interrelations which satisfy the necessity of affiliation to a certain social group or
It is obvious, that each of the content elements of the guest experience can be seriously
influenced positively or negatively by the use of RAISA in hospitality.
According to Meyer & Schwager (2007) customer experience includes all the aspects
that a company is offering advertising, packaging, product and service features, the quality
of service, ease of use, and reliability. Therefore, the formation of guest experience is a complex
process which is accomplished by any direct or indirect interaction of the customer with the
hotel organization before, during and after his stay at the hotel (Figure 1).
Fig. 1 Guest cycle
The term "guest cycle" was first introduced by Michael Kasavanna in 1978 (Jones, Paul,
1995). It structurally identifies the totality of all relations and interactions between the guest
and the staff, related to the guest‘s stay at the hotel. The "Guest Cycle" model has four stages:
pre-arrival, arrival, stay, departure. During each stage, different operations and
procedures are performed in order to provide main and additional services to the guest. These
operations form the technological process of tourist service in the hotel. For example, during
the first stage - pre-arrival - two main operations are carried out: information and booking.
The second stage includes welcoming the guest, registration and room assignment. The main
focus of the third stage stay, is to provide main and additional services and to meet the
guests' expectations. The fourth and final stage includes checkout and settlement of the guest’s
account. Subsequently, the "Guest Cycle" model is further developed, adding a fifth stage
assessment. It is not directly related to hotel operations, since it takes place after the departure
of the guest from the hotel. During this stage, the customer assesses all aspects of his stay. A
higher degree of satisfaction leads to higher probability of re-visiting the hotel, or in other
words, the re-visiting of the hotel is strongly connected with the net result of the good guest
experiences minus the bad ones. (Meyer, Schwager, 2007).
One of the first scenarios for automation of hotel services has been developed over 40
years ago (Borsenik, 1974; Lewis, 1982; Powers, 1984). The publications reflect both the
possibilities of applying self-service technologies in the hotel industry and the attitude of hotel
guests to their use (Connolly, 2005; Beldona & Cobanoglu, 2007; Lema, 2009; Kattara & El-
Said, 2014). At a later stage, research focuses on the application of robotic systems in hospitality
(Andrew, 1984; Graf & Weckesser, 1998; Weizer, 1991). Even in some of the first publications,
researchers emphasize that for application of robotics system in the hospitality industry to be
successful, acceptance, appropriate design of the work environment are required (Prokopenko,
1987), as well as acceptable system costs and new management skills. Over the last decade,
researches have become more in-depth with regard to automation of services and the use of
robots and artificial intelligence in the hospitality industry (Collins et al., 2017). Researches
explore the possibilities of using robots for certain hotel operations. (López et al., 2013; Zalama,
2014; Kuo et al., 2016; Pinillos et al., 2016; Ivanov, Webster & Berezina, 2017; Murphy,
Gretzel & Hofacker, 2017), the role of robots in innovating services in hospitality (Primawati,
2018), as well as for fully automated and robotized hotels (Northfield, 2015; Miljanić &
Nikolić, 2016; Osawa et al., 2017). The focus of the discussions also includes the effects and
consequences of the introduction of robots in the hospitality industry (Papathanassis, 2017;
Tung & Law, 2017; Mishraa, Goyal, & Sharma, 2018), and cost-benefit analysis (Ivanov &
Webster, 2018). The attitude of hotel guests to social robots in service is examined in greater
detail (Pan et al., 2013; Pieska et al., 2013; Rodriguez-Lizundia et al., 2015; Ivanov, Webster,
& Garenko, 2018; Ivanov, Webster & Seyyedi, 2018; Tussyadiah & Park, 2018), as well as the
attitude of the hotel staff to RAISA in the hospitality (Osawa et al., 2017; Tanizaki, Shimmura
& Fujii, 2017; Yu, 2018). Ethical issues related to the use of robots and humanoids in the
provision of services are considered as well (Korstanje & Seraphin, 2018; Ozturkcan & Merdin,
Based on the literature review of the RAISA in Hospitality, we can summarize the
possibilities for their practical use in the service delivery process in the hospitality. Table 1
presents some basic examples of RAISA application in hotel companies that define the scope
of the research presented and are further elaborated in the text.
Table 1
Main examples of RAISA adoption in hotel companies
Service automation
AI search platform
Virtual reality
Mobile check-in
Porter robots
Digital kiosks
Smartphone Room
Keys/Non-stop check-in
Front desk robots
Concierge robots
Delivery robots
Vacuum cleaning robots
Room assistant robots
Interactive Social
In-room smart technologies
Porter robots
Travel assistant
Express Checkout
Digital kiosks
AI platform
Source: own construction
2. Application of RAISA during the guest cycle
2.1. Application of RAISA at the Pre-arrival stage
In the Pre-Arrival stage, two main operations are carried out by the potential customer
- gathering information and booking (Shostack, 1985; Armistead, 1989; Jones & Paul, 1995;
Lukanova, 2017). The potential customer initially searches for information about the
accommodation options in the destination that interests her/him. He examines different hotel
types, compares services, amenities and prices. Based on the collected information, the
customer selects a specific hotel and makes a reservation, i.e. makes a purchase. That is why at
this point, it is of significant importance for the hotel to be as visible as possible for the potential
customer. Mobile technologies, virtual reality and virtual assistants are modern examples of
technologies used in hospitality that are powerful marketing tools for increasing customer
loyalty, enhancing customer interactions and customer experience (Adukaite et al., 2013; Wang
& Fesenmaier, 2013; Dickinson et al., 2014; Barragáns-Martínez & Costa-Montenegro, 2015;
Howell & Hadwick, 2017).
Mobile technologies
Mobile accessibility (via smartphones and tablets) allows the potential customer to find
the most suitable hotel among many in a particular destination. The customer may examine in
advance not only the different types of rooms, but also the dining and SPA facilities, and other
departments for auxiliary services in the hotel. In other words, mobile technologies are
transforming the intangible hotel services into tangible.
Pioneers in the creation and application of mobile applications are some of the largest
international hotel companies such as Hilton (Hilton HHonors App), Marriott, Starwood Hotels
& Resorts (Starwood Preferred Guest), AccorHotels Group etc. The mobile applications have
unquestionable advantages for customers. The potential customer has the opportunity in a very
short time to view a large number of hotels from the respective hotel company, no matter where
these hotels are located. After choosing a specific hotel, the customer can make a reservation
immediately. If the customer wants, she or he can view the layout of the hotel's rooms and
choose a specific room. Furthermore, using the app, the potential guest can inform the hotel
about her/his preferences for setting up the room. She/he can also order a variety of additional
services such as food and beverages, extra pillows and so on, which will be available in his
room upon arrival. Besides booking, mobile apps allow a number of operations to be made
before the arrival of the guest at the hotel. For example, by using the application, a guest can
check-in in advance and contact the service staff at any time. The guest has the opportunity to
receive advance information about special offers, weather forecasts, sights and so on.
Since the implementation of its mobile app, Hilton conducted a number of studies
covering more than 40 million members of Hilton HHonors. The results are unambiguous and
clearly indicate that customers want to have greater choice and control. Nearly 90% of the
guests of the hotel company express a positive attitude and like the possibility to choose the
room in which they will be accommodated (Hilton, 2014).
New opportunities in the field of pre-arrival stage are provided by the largest European
international chain AccorHotels Group. Since the spring of 2017 has
introduced an innovative technology called MoodMatch. This is AI platform, which is entirely
based on moods and experiences of the tourists. Based on an analysis of more than 100 million
reviews of tourists and experts in the field of tourism, the AI platform systematizes 34 key
features that are essential to potential customers when choosing a hotel. For each hotel
worldwide, the platform defines a unique set of attributes, therefore it is known as Hotel DNA
content platform. When the potential customer searches for a hotel through MoodMatch, he
could choose between four categories, depending on his particular preferences: „In the mood
for“, „Preferred style“, „Close to“ and „Anything else“. The search engine shows these hotels,
which unique set of attributes most closely corresponds to the category selected by the customer
(Accor Hotels, 2017).
In most cases, the cost of implementation and use of innovative technologies can be
significant (Ivanov & Webster, 2017). That is why it is perfectly logical that such new
technologies are primarily available for large hotel companies. Increasingly, however,
considering the importance and role of the innovative technologies for the modern development
of hotels, independent hotels are also starting to invest in them to improve their guests
experience. For example, hotel Schani Wien (Austria) allows its guests to choose a floor, a
view, a size of the room and other features via a mobile application (Hotel Schani, 2017). It
also allows guests to communicate directly with the hotel, get information about Vienna,
weather forecast, unlock the room and with one click to order an airport transfer and check-in
for the flight. Since May, 2015 Hotel Schani Wien has expanded its role as a pioneering hotel
of the future and was the first hotel in the German-speaking region that accepted bitcoins as a
payment method.
Virtual reality
Virtual reality (VR) is a new technology that creates a non-physical reality through
information and communication systems (Gutiérrez, Vexo & Thalmann, 2008, Guttentag, 2010;
McNeal & Newyear, 2013). Image design can be done not only on a monitor, but also through
stereoscopic glasses. According to a study by “Eye for travel”, 36% of Britons, 49% of Germans
and 74% of Americans believe that virtual reality will be very helpful in planning a tourist trip
(Howell, 2017). Best Western is the first big hotel chain, which sets a new standard for the way
VR technology can be used to improve and facilitate the planning of tourist trips. The chain has
a YouTube channel BestwesternTV, where potential customers can see every room in the
selected hotel, the lobby and all amenities long before they arrive at the hotel through VR
technology (Best Western, 2016). Similary the Spanish Cotton House hotel, part of the Marriott
International’s Autograph Collection Hotels creates a series of VR experience films
(Hospitalitynet, 2017). VR enhances the customer experience by giving. guests the opportunity
not just to "look before they book" but fully to experience a property, room, suite or destination
before making a booking.
Also known as virtual agents, instant messaging bots and artificial conversational
entities, chatbots are computer programs that can respond to text or verbal commands and
questions, providing advice in the place of a human staff member (Allison, 2012; Lasek &
Jessa, 2013; Shum, He & Li, 2018). Artificial Intelligence (AI) is dramatically changing
business, and chatbots, fueled by AI, are becoming an important customer service channel.
Intelligent support bots can interact with the customers on every channel, from mobile websites
to apps, and from desktops to social media. (Smith, 2017).
Since 2016, Hilton has taken steps to differentiate its strategy by adding artificial
intelligence to its digital concierge services (Clancy, 2016). The idea is to convince more guests
and travelers to use Hilton’s online reservation options on its website, rather than using travel
sites like As the customer is browsing, there will be a chat box to assist him and
help him according to his specific needs.
The main advantage of the support bots is that they can simultaneously handle thousands
of bookings and inquiries. With customer service bot the hoteliers could be able to get in touch
with the customer at a much earlier stage in the process - in the dreaming phase.
2.2. Application of RAISA at the Arrival stage
The second stage of Guest Cycle includes the procedures welcoming the guest,
registration and room assignment. In the global hospitality, innovative technologies such as
digital kiosks, mobile check-in and smartphone room keys increasingly have been applied to
facilitate the guest upon his arrival and to save him time and waiting (Beatson, 2010; Kasavana,
Digital kiosks
Digital kiosks are a modern approach to efficient hotel service that can be a successful
addition to each hotel's strategy (Makarem, Mudambi & Podoshen, 2009; Ostrowski, 2010; Lui
& Piccoli, 2010; Shaw, 2014). By implementing digital kiosks, hotels provide guests the
opportunity to register themselves, eliminating the waiting time at the reception. For check-in,
the hotel guests could select between several languages (some of them will most likely not be
spoken by reception staff). The self-service application shows the guest several room types
according to his requirements and gives opportunity to upgrade. The guest reviews hotel check-
in and stay policies, fills in the required information and confirms with fingerprint. Once the
check-in procedures have been performed, the kiosk issues a guest keycard. The self-service
application also gives the guest the opportunity to pay his bill by checkout. This way, digital
kiosks provide full automation of check-in and checkout operations in hotel services.
Software companies such as IBM, NCR and Clock work together with some of the
largest hotel chains like Hilton, Marriott, Sheraton, Hyatt and others that have hundreds of sites
all over the world, where digital kiosks are installed. Hilton goes further by installing a digital
kiosk even at the airport’s baggage claim area. This way Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort
& Spa guests can check in also at the airport, long before they arrive at the hotel (Self-Service
in Hotels and Motels, 2018 (Avery, 2008).
To optimize the use of hotel kiosks new features are added to self-service apps, which
are not available at the reception. Such feature is airline web check-in. Self-service technology
may include a software module with interactive maps through which guests can locate different
sites near the hotel or get directions how to get to their room and other amenities at the hotel.
Digital kiosks used in hospitality contribute to improving the guest experience by
increasing customer choice and convenience, reducing waiting times and increasing guests
control over the arrival and departure process. For hotels, the implementation of digital kiosks
provides a potential opportunity to increase revenue through upselling and one-to-one
marketing offers of additional services.
Mobile check-in
The mobile check-in/checkout is another unit in the evolution of innovative technologies
in the hospitality (Kim, Park & Morrison, 2008; Wang & Wang, 2010; Chen, Hsu & Wu, 2012).
Mobile and web check-in is implemented to enhance guest possibilities and the overall
experience by reducing queuing times and allowing guests to interact with the hotel at a time
and place convenient to them. Upon arrival at the hotel, the guest could quickly collect his key
from a key dispenser at the reception and gain access to his room.
For the first time, mobile check-in application was implemented in 2008 from the hotel
company Omni Hotels, an American based chain of 60 luxury hotels in the US, Canada and
Mexico (Baker, 2014). Soon that example was quickly followed by some of the world's largest
hotel chains like Marriott (Marriott Mobile Application for Marriott Rewards members), Hilton
Worldwide (Hilton HHonors members), B&B Hotels, Choice Hotels, Scandic, Mövenpick,
Park Inn, Radisson Blu, Louvre Hotels Group and others.
The mobile check-in allows hotel guests to finalize personally their registration
procedure at a convenient time. In this sense, we can assert that the provision of self-check-in
option to hotel guests contributes to their convenience, improves their arrival experience and
increases the level of customer satisfaction. The application of mobile check-in frees employees
from some routine operations and thereby provides them more time and opportunity to make a
good first impression by focusing on „value-added face-to-face services that are more
impressive than handing out a registration card and a key“ (Clock Software, 2016).
Smartphone Room Keys/Non-stop check-in (NSCI)
From the mentioned above, it becomes clear that digital kiosks and mobile check-in
enable the guest registration process to be done virtually and waiting time at the reception to be
avoided. However, this does not prevent the fact that the guests have to stop at the hotel
reception to pick up a key. Present days there are several innovative technologies such as NFC
(Near Field Communication), RFID (Radio-frequency identification), acoustic, Bluetooth, PIN-
code (Personal Identification Number) and biometrics, whose applications in hotels enable the
guest to go straight to the room without stopping (Pesonen & Horster, 2012; Gruen, 2014;
Keymolen, 2018). Table 2 summarizes the characteristics of the listed NSCI technologies:
Table 2
Key Features of NSCI Technologies in Hospitality
The guest registers with the
appropriate app before arrival; and
then at arrival uses the app to activate
a signal (via Bluetooth or RFID) to
unlock the hotel room door.
All members of the family (including
the kids) need to have their own
smartphone; the main registered guest
must find a secure way to transfer the
virtual key to other members of the
family; this solution fails if the
phone’s battery is dead
The hotel sends SMS to the guest
before arrival; at arrival, the guest
transmits an acoustic signal in front
of the hotel room's door.
Expensive solution, because the hotel
needs to send many SMSs, and if they
are to international destinations they
could be too expensive. Also the
reliability of the cellular reception is
outside the hotel’s control; fails to
work if the phone’s battery is dead
The guest receives a PIN code prior
arrival via SMS or email.
When he gets to his hotel door, he
types in the code and opens the door.
None essential.
The hotel guest receives 2D barcode
prior arrival; at arrival he scans the
smartphone or the printout of the
code at the door.
2D barcode scanners are relatively
expensive and consume a lot of
Access to the hotel room is
controlled by fingerprint scans or
retina scanning devices
Expensive scanning devices.
Source: own construction
Keyless entry system is a brand new technology, first introduced in 2014 by the hotel
company The Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide through the mobile app Starwood
Preferred Guest (Mangla, 2014). The mobile app enables full automation of check-in and
checkout procedures as the guest automatically receives his hotel bill on his email.
Another leading hotel company in terms of application of Keyless entry system is Hilton
Worldwide. Members of its loyalty program Hilton HHonnors can benefit from the mobile-
enabled room key technology not only to get access to their hotel rooms, but also to access
other areas of each property that requires a room key, such as the fitness center, executive floors,
elevators, parking facilities and so on.
Digital technologies are really setting new standards for hotel services. According to the
American Hotel & Lodging Association, by 2016 65% of hotel owners in the US had introduced
mobile check-in for their guests (American Hotel & Lodging Association, 2016). Using the
self-service technology in terms of automated check-in, room selection, checkout, secure
payment etc. eliminates much of the administrative work for the service staff and thus gives
more opportunity for human interactions, increases the accuracy of routine operations, reduces
costs and improves the guest experience altogether. The digitalization of hotels also includes
the development of analytical and security systems and extensive digital marketing. Modern
tourists are well-versed in all digital things, they try to remain connected to the Internet, use
their mobile devices and keep easy access to information (Filipova, Kadieva, 2017). As a result,
digital has become the “channel-of-choice” for communication between hotels and their clients.
2.3. Application of RAISA during the Occupancy stage
In the occupancy stage guests are offered a variety of services and various operations
are carried out which provide a wide range for implementation and application of RAISA. High-
speed internet, smart TV, digital entertainment devices are now considered as regular services
and are not enough to create a unique and memorable experience (Bartelds, 2014; Margarido,
2015). Therefore hospitality companies that aim to improve the user experience do not stop
developing RAISA at all levels of operational performance - both in front office operations that
are visible to the customer and are with or without his participation and in back office
operations, which take place outside the customer's eyes.
Interactive Social Hubs
The user experience can be greatly influenced by social media (Chan & Denizci Guillet,
2011; Lee & Wicks, 2010; Noone, McGuire, & Rohlfs, 2011; Xiang & Gretzel, 2010; Leung,
Law, Van Hoof & Buhalis, 2013). Realizing the role of the user-generated content, more and
more hotel organizations are starting to convert their hotel public areas into social hubs. A social
hub is a digital property of the hotel organization that collects what the hotel or its guests post
on various social networks and displays it together. The social hub may or may not contain
user-generated content. Social hubs enable hotel organizations to unite the tremendous amount
of information in a more synthesized presentation that can be displayed on any marketing
channel (Chiba, 2013).
Social hubs find application in hospitality in different forms: digital screen in the hotel
lobby or in the hotel room, social wall of the hotel site, mobile application for hotel customers.
In 2013, Marriott introduced the use of a social hub, which is a combination of a mobile
application, a digital screen incorporated in the hotel lobby and a LED table that interacts with
people sitting on it. Social application Six Degrees aims to connect like-minded people who
have similar professional or personal interests and are also staying at the same Marriott hotel.
To use it a guest has just to download the app and syncs it with his or her LinkedIn network.
The information is also available to the hotel's management team, which, based on the specific
combination of guests at the moment, can organize various events, such as wine tasting. The
digital screen in the lobby can display photos, events and successful meetings between people.
The interactive LED table has an interesting function. When a guest puts his/her phone on it,
LED lights glow to indicate if the guest has something in common with the others seated at the
table. Other hotel companies such as Hyatt and Caesar's Palace have also followed this modern
approach by setting up digital lobby space in some of their hotels.
Besides contributing to the increase of customer satisfaction by providing new
experiences for guests, social hubs/walls can also bring benefits to the hotel organization in
several other aspects (Noone, McGuire, & Rohlfs, 2011; Wiste & Li, 2016; Hudson & Hudson,
- free advertising, and eventually attracting new customers by promoting guest experience
images, made by hotel guests themselves and uploaded to various social media. Often, hotels
encourage guests to be active in uploading pictures from their stay at the hotel, by providing
the best of them some prize (for example complimentary night);
- hotel companies can offer social walls to hosts of events as an additional service during
conferences, corporate meetings, parties, weddings and other official or private events. The
benefit of the hotel consists of generating direct revenue from the additional service;
- hotel companies can sell advertising space on their social wall where they display
sponsored content and promote events from the local community - local entertainment, dining,
cultural and sports events, etc.;
- hotel companies can take advantage of social hubs/walls and incorporate them into
their own site. Summarizing positive social publications about hotel product elements by using
authentic user-generated content could increase sales and attract new hotel customers.
In-room smart technologies
In their effort to provide personalized customer experience, more and more hotels are
experimenting in this direction (DeMicco & Cobanoglu, 2009; Bilgihan, Cobanoglu, Cihan &
Miller, 2010; Brochado, Rita & Margarido, 2016). Some hotel companies such as The Peninsula
Hotels, use for this purpose in-room tablet technology (USA Today, 2016). Through the tablet,
guests can control room temperature, lighting, set a wake-up alarm, turn on the TV, pull the
curtains, make a room service order, request spa services, and so on. The main problem with
this technology is that the hardware is expensive and requires constant updating (Wroten, 2017).
Another innovative solution tested by hotel companies is voice-control technology,
through which guests can order room service, request a housekeeping visit, or adjust room
controls (thermostat, blinds, lights, etc.). Devices with voice activation are still in the initial
stage of implementation in the hospitality. For example, Marriott International plans to
introduce Alexa for Hospitality, developed by Amazon in some hotels such as Marriott Hotels,
Westin Hotels & Resorts, St. Regis Hotels & Resorts, Aloft Hotels, and Autograph Collection
Hotels (Welch, 2018).
One of the most cited in the specialized literature example is the joint project of the hotel
company Accor and the software company Microsoft, called Room 3120 in Novotel Paris
Vaugirard Montparnasse (Hotelmarketing, 2011; Hospitalitynet, 2011; Margarido, 2015). The
project, implemented in 2011, is an innovative concept for the hotel room based entirely on
innovative technology solutions like decompression chamber, Xbox 360 consolе, multimedia
digital table and interactive mirror. The technologies provide the guest with access to a variety
of digital entertainment such as music, HD movies, games and information. They work with
gestures and voice control, creating a unique guest experience.
Hotel companies like Marriott Hotels, Aloft Hotels and Four Seasons have designed a
new generation of smart rooms. They not only provide an opportunity for guests to control
temperature, lighting and other devices, but by combining innovative technology with artificial
intelligence they can help hotel management learn about the individual preferences of the guests
and offer them personalized offers. In addition to increasing guest experience by providing
exceptional service, smart rooms also increase revenue and operational efficiency. For example,
as a result of these activities, the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills indicates a
41% increase in room service revenue per occupied room (Eftekari, 2014). However, this
technology also causes problems. For example, such a system is more susceptible to hacker
attacks, which would lead to increased security costs.
In addition to the pre-arrival stage, chatbot technology such as chatbot concierge, virtual
concierge, Bebot, Eva etc is also applicable during the stay of the guest at the hotel. It is
extremely suitable for guests who like automated communication, want quick access to
information, and do not want to waste time by contacting an employee and waiting for his
answer. For the hotel industry, chatbots are still a relatively new technology and is mostly
applied by major hotel companies like Novotel, Marriott, Holiday Inn and Hyatt. Independent
and smaller hotels are still working with human-maintained instant messaging systems, which
for them are a financially more affordable alternative.
The application of chatbots can be done through various customer service channels - on
a touchscreen placed in the hotel lobby, as a mobile app or on a tablet that guests receive at
their arrival. Guests can request the same services and amenities a human concierge would
offer. Through chatbot technology guests can discover information related to the brand, the
hotel and the attractions and restaurants near the hotel, the weather forecast, the flight schedule,
and so on. The combination with AI, allows chatbot to recognize guests' messaging style and
to best suit their needs and personal preferences.
One of the most significant advantages of the chatbot is that it helps to enhance guest
experience when corresponding with the hotel. The chatbot is available 24/7 and as a
multilingual application can serve guests from different nationalities. At the same time, this
contributes to reducing the staff workload. As the guest communicates with chatbot throughout
his stay at the hotel, this could help the hotel to collect and study his behavioral trends and thus
to refine its services and offerings. This in turn would help to build brand loyalty (Dickinson,
At the same time, chatbots have some disadvantages, which may be due to the initial
stage of their use in the hospitality industry (Dickinson, 2017). Chatbots cannot always meet
the expectations of guests. . Often an automated response to a more complicated request can
lead to a negative effect. Complexity of language can also be a barrier to the use of chatbots, as
in human language words have different meanings depending on the situation, the context or
the intonation. It is necessary that guests take into consideration that they have to make simple
and precise requests in order to gain maximum benefit from chatbots. Last but not least, the
cost of building chatbots needs to be taken into account. It is considered that the cost can vary
between $30,000 and $150,000 (Dickinson, 2017), which explains the implementation of
conversational bots mostly by major international hotel companies.
As recent publications show, robots can find applications in different departments of the
hotel, both in the front office and in the back office (Ivanov, Webster, Berezina, 2017; Murison,
2016; Pullen, 2017; López, Pérez, Zalama and Gómez-García-Bermejo, 2013). In the
specialized literature, robots are defined as “intelligent physical devices” (Chen & Hu, 2013, p.
161). According to the International Organization for Standardization, robots are actuated
programmable mechanisms with a degree of autonomy that is determined by their ability to
perform intended tasks without human intervention (International Organization for
Standardization, 2012). Having in mind the classification of Murphy, Hofacker and Gretzel
(2017), according to which the robots are divided into three categories - industrial robots,
professional service robots and personal service robots, we can assert that all three types could
find application in hospitality. For example, industrial robots and professional service robots
can be applied to back office operations such as preparing food in the hotel restaurant or
cleaning rooms, while personal service robots are more likely to be used in front office
operations such as concierge services, room service and entertainment.
One of the most cited examples in the specialized literature is the Japanese Henn-na
Hotel. The hotel is part of Huis Ten Bosch theme park in Sasebo, Nagasaki. It opened in 2015
and is the first in the world, whose service staff is made up of robots (Rajesh, 2015). Work
positions performed by robots include front desk agents, concierge, porters, in-room assistants,
vacuum cleaners, and a robotic arm operating the luggage storage room. The doors of the hotel
rooms are opened using face recognition software.
In recent years, many hotel companies have started using robots, mostly for concierge
and room service, room cleaning and entertainment. The technology company Savioke is a
pioneer in developing autonomous indoor service robots for hospitality. Its butler robots are
designed to be able to deliver various items ordered by guests to their hotel rooms (Martin,
2016; Savioke, 2017). The manufactured name of the robot is Relay, but each hotel company
gives him a different name. For example, for Residence Inn it is Wally, for Crowne Plaza
(Intercontinental) it is Dash, for Aloft (Starwood) it is Botlr. Hotel Jen is the first international
hotel brand in Asia that uses autonomous Relay robots. Named Jeno and Jena, the Relay robots
can be seen in its two properties in Singapore. M Social Hotel in Singapore has the first guest-
facing butler robot, named AURA (Joseph, 2017). In order to accomplish its functions, the
butler robot has a closed compartment where the items ordered by the guest are placed - most
often foods and beverages, toothpaste, towels, etc. The number of the room for delivery is dialed
on a small display at the top of the robot. The robot navigates around the property using Wi-Fi,
3-D cameras and sensors. The robot charges its batteries at the reception desk when not in use.
In addition to deliveries to guest rooms, butler robots can be used to charge household supplies,
serve coffee and other drinks at organized events and business meetings (Ward, 2016).
Concierge is another department in the hotel industry where robots are starting to be
used d. Hilton Worldwide works with Connie a concierge robot powered by Watson artificial
intelligence from IBM, Marriott in Belgium has a concierge robot, named Mario (Chestler,
2016; Friedlander, 2016), Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Las Vegas has Pepper, Japanese hotels
use Toshiba's ChiHiraKanae (Logan, 2016). Concierge robots help guests to check-in, provide
information about hotel services, local attractions, dining facilities, weather forecasts, and more
(Tussyadiah, Park, 2018). The artificially intelligent concierge robots learn and extend their
knowledge with every interaction with guests. which helps them provide more complete and
more accurate information.
Besides performing operations such as delivery of items and giving various information,
butler robots and concierge robots perform one additional feature they themselves serve as an
attraction. Often guests order small items, not because they really need them, but just to take a
selfie with the butler robot. Other concierge robots, like Pepper, can dance, talk, tell stories and
pose for a photo. An important function that hotel robots can perform is data collection. In the
process of interacting with guests, robots can collect a variety of information about guest
preferences, satisfaction, purchase patterns and other behaviors. This would help hoteliers to
gather valuable information and use it to design an extremely personalized service and thus
increase the number of their loyal customers.
Proof that the use of robots is becoming more and more popular is the new San Gabriel
Hotel, from the hotel chain Sheraton in Los Angeles that will open in 2018. While most hotels
have only one or two robots, this hotel will have eight robots, developed by Aethon, a provider
of autonomous mobile robots (Aethon, 2017). One of them, serving as a bellboy robot, will take
guests to destinations on the first floor, the remaining seven robots will perform butler
operations. These examples show that more and more hotel companies are starting to use robots
not only in back office operations, but also in front office operations to reduce operating costs,
increase productivity and enhance customer experience.
2.4. Application of RAISA during the Departure stage
The operations that take place during the Departure stage are related to the payment of
the guest's bill, the vacancy of the room and checkout. At this stage, service automation helps
hotel guests save time and effort, thereby reinforcing their positive impressions of the hotel and
enhancing their customer experience (Kim & Qu, 2014; Berezina, 2015; Hertzfeld, 2016;
Schaap, 2017).
Travel assistant
Often departure stage operations can be quite stressful for guests, especially if they are
in a hurry for a flight or are worried about traffic. Travel assistants such as Google Home can
significantly facilitate the guests at their checkout. They can check the status of flights, set an
alarm, order help for the luggage, have someone bring their car in front of the hotel, call an
Uber driver, and receive real-time traffic data. Besides helping the leaving guests to reach a
destination on time with minimum hassle, travel assistants provide customers good experience
when checking-out and help them to remain with positive impressions.
Express Checkout
More and more hotel companies offer their guests the opportunity to use a mobile
application through which they can checkout and skip waiting at reception. Usually for this
purpose, the guests could use the same mobile app with which they check-in. Once the guest
leaves the hotel, the hotel finalizes the guest's bill and sends it to her/his email. As an examples
could be mentioned the names of major hotel companies like Marriott (Marriott Mobile
Application for Marriott Rewards members), Hilton Worldwide (Hilton HHonors members)
and so on.
Digital kiosks
The other options are the self-service kiosks, used for check-in that can also serve as
self-service terminals that allow guests to checkout promptly. The kiosks are located in the hotel
lobby and are available at any time. At a convenient for them time, guests can check out by
entering their room number and credit card on the digital screen. Thus, guests receive access to
their folios, can review them and settle their accounts.
2.5. Application of RAISA during the Assessment stage
The Assessment stage takes place after the guest leaves the hotel. During this stage, the
guests have the opportunity to share their opinion about their experience in the hotel (Barreda,
& Bilgihan, 2013). Thanks to the new technologies today, guests are able to share information
and give feedback through numerous channels (Neuhofer, & Buhalis, 2012). However, this is
also the stage in which the hotel has the ability to understand the preferences and opinions of
its guests, to take advantage of the gathered information and to use it to turn these guests into
its loyal customers (Berezina, 2015). Artificial intelligence offers great opportunities in the field
of data analysis. AI platforms could track numerous guest reviews from different channels -
bookings, transactions, satisfaction surveys, third parties and so on. Hotel companies could use
this information to enhance guest experience in all stages of the guest cycle by providing
personalized services, communications and promotional offers. As an example in this respect
can be mentioned the AI Metis platform, used by the luxury hotel portfolio Dorchester
Collection, which handles thousands of customer reviews in different languages and
systematizes their wishes and preferences as well as the strengths of the hotel company by
comparing the results with those of its competitors (Hosea, 2016). As
3. Conclusions
This chapter examines the possibilities for applying RAISA to hotel companies in terms
of the impact that technologies have on guest experience during each of the five stages of the
guest cycle: pre-arrival, arrival, stay, departure, assessment. As the review of the literature and
the various case studies from global hospitality practice show, the subject is highly controversial
and the opinions of experts and researchers are not unambiguous. The application of RAISA in
the hotel industry has both advantages and disadvantages and depends on many factors.
First, it is necessary to take into account how tourists perceive the application of RAISA
in sectors with high human interaction, such as hospitality. At this stage of development of the
hotel industry, RAISA still has a relatively low, sporadic application and the hotel guests
perceive it more as an attraction. However, maybe the guests would have a completely different
attitude, if they are constantly served by robots and communicate with electronic devices during
their stay at the hotel. In 2016, the Travelzoo media company conducted the first global survey
among more than 6,200 travelers in Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, Spain, the
United Kingdom and the United States, exploring consumer acceptance of robots in the travel
and tourism industry. The results show that more than half of respondents believe that robots
will improve hotel service but at the same time more than half of them would accept robots at
the hotel reception only if they are combined with human staff (Singer, 2016). Another factor
to consider is the value of investments in RAISA. According to a recent study by Ivanov &
Webster (2017), costs may vary considerably, both in financial and non-financial terms and
managers should carefully evaluate and compare them with benefits before deciding to invest.
An important fact that needs to be considered is how employees react to new
technologies. The introduction of RAISA will require a number of changes in planning,
organization, and control of operational activities. It is completely normal that employees are
afraid of these changes and consider RAISA as a threat to their jobs (Ivanov & Webster 2017;
Murphy, Hofacker, and Gretzel, 2017; Freifer, 2017). In many departments in the hotel
industry, automation of operations and application of artificial intelligence will replace human
employees. On the other hand, research shows that some hotels that already use butler robots
have hired additional staff due to increased occupancy (Hospitalitytech, 2017).
Practical implications
There are several implications in terms of improving customer experience by using
RAISA in hotels before, during and after the stay of the guest. AI search platforms and virtual
reality stimulate the purchase by making the hotel as visible as possible to potential customers.
Virtual reality can be used to "test" the service, which is otherwise not possible (Dabeva, 2000;
Lukanova, 2017). The application of AI to consumer research has unlimited opportunities and
at the same time is cost effective (Li, 2007; Wierenga, 2010). This allows hotel companies to
design customized products and services by offering their customers services that best meet
their requirements and expectations. Self-service technologies save the guests time and give
them the opportunity to consume the service when it is comfortable for them. This helps to
increase the efficiency and effectiveness of operations and services (Lukanova, 2017;
Tussyadiah & Park, 2018; Ivanov & Webster, 2018).
Innovative technologies such as interactive social hubs, chatbots, in-room smart
technologies and robots that can be applied during the stay create a unique customer experience
by providing the guests opportunity to receive a variety of useful information and entertainment,
saving them time and being at their disposal 24/7. Furthermore, the application of AI in the
service process allows the elimination of the language barrier, which facilitates the service. For
hotel guests, innovative technology solutions are not only useful but also entertaining. Often,
guests can use a service that includes a robot only because they are interested in seeing how it
works (Ivanov & Webster, 2018). For the hotel company, innovative technologies are a source
of advertising, growth in sales, and cost savings.
Pedagogical implications
Nowadays, the development of theory and practice in the field of new technologies and
their application in tourism and hospitality is extremely dynamic. This claim is confirmed both
by the described practical examples and by the survey of the researches in this field that have
greatly increased in number and scope over the last five years. This objectively requires the
necessity for specialized modules for hotel technology to be included in the curricula of
undergraduate and graduate programmes in tourism and hospitality. tourism specialties at
colleges and universities
Research implications
The academic research on the application of RAISA in hotels is still rather limited which
provides various opportunities for future research, such as how different generations (guests
and employees) perceive RAISA in the hotel industry and what is the attitude of guests in
different categories of hotels (luxury and economy) towards the use of RAISA. It also helps to
reveal the attitude of different types of tourists (holiday, business, health, cultural, etc.) and
what kinds of robots (androids or machines) are more appropriate for different types of hotel
In closing, the development of innovative technologies is an inconvertible process. With
regard to future development we consider that their implementation in the hospitality industry
will continue and will find its place in all stages of the guest cycle, as long as it does not
contradict morality and law. Service robots that work in housekeeping provide guests and staff
with a variety of information and recommendations, deliver to the guests various items,
entertain children and adults, would be found at the hotels more and more often. In some
departments of the hotel such as housekeeping, maintenance and security, extensive use of
robots and artificial intelligence can lead to a significant increase in productivity, efficiency and
reduce operational costs. In other departments, such as front desk, where contact with guests is
intensive, robots and artificial intelligence will be combined with human staff to enhance
customer satisfaction and guest experience.
We also believe that the different technologies will enter the hospitality industry at
different rates based on whether they are really necessary and not how attractive they are.
Perhaps in the hotel industry mobile technologies, virtual reality, artificial intelligence, voice
enabled technologies and 3-D printing will be applied more intensively. At this stage of
development, robots in hospitality are perceived by customers and employees as an attraction
rather than as a necessity, so they may have a slower application.
Innovative technologies add value and personalize the stay, but overtaking them can
destroy the human relationships that guests are looking for and appreciate (Kazandzhieva,
2016). Ultimately, the human touch can never be replaced by RAISA and this is very important
in order for the hospitality sector to remain “hospitable”.
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This paper explores the current state and the potential adoption of service automation and robots by tourist, travel and hospitality companies. Despite the huge advancements in social robotics, the research on robots in tourism has been extremely limited-a gap that is partially filled by this paper. Specifically the paper looks at service automation in hotels, restaurants, events, theme and amusement parks, airports, car rental companies, travel agencies and tourist information centres, museums and art galleries. The paper elaborates on the challenges that companies will face when adopting service automation and robots to serve tourists.
Conference Paper
In recent decades, the robotic technology has been widely applied in various industries, including the tourism and hospitality industries. However, it is unclear how people with individualist culture and collectivist cultural backgrounds perceive robots in the service encounter. Hence, the present study compared the perceptual differences of individualist participants (n=117) and collectivist participants (n=116) toward robots and humans during the service encounters. The stimuli are the smiling appearances of the robot and human staff with different degrees of head tilt. Head tilts were controlled in -20°, -10°, 0°, 10°, and 20°. The findings showed that there were relationships between the degrees of head tilt and cultural backgrounds towards the overall perceived service quality, specifically reliability, assurance, and empathy of the service quality. Additionally, cultural backgrounds also correlated with perceived customer satisfaction. Nonetheless, no factor in the study had any significant effect on interpersonal warmth and visiting intention. Finally, this study discussed implications for the development and marketing of humanlike robots.
Conference Paper
At the heart of the discussions about artificial intelligence (AI) and the robots’ presence in the economy and the job market (van der Zande et al., 2018) lie the anthropomorphized robots, used especially in service industries. Service robots are already being used for elderly care (Kalogianni, 2015), café and restaurant services (Frey & Osborn, 2017) and even for sexual pleasure (Krumins, 2017). Anthropomorphism is defined as imbuing the imagined or real behavior of nonhuman agents with humanlike characteristics, motivations, intentions, and emotions (Epley et al. 2007). In time, the marketplace emotions towards robots turned from excitement and empathy towards anger and fear, due to warnings of several entrepreneurs against uncontrolled AI and increased use of robots for the defense industries (Mattel, 2015). Coinciding with these findings, people are exposed to crash-tests with dummies or defense robots tested against human violence to prove real-time balance (Darrow, 2016). Mende et al. (2017) mention that the rise of service robots is a double-edged sword with increased consumer buzz and engagement on the one hand but uncomfortable feelings on the other. We argue that the level of anthropomorphism, the type of violence towards the anthropomorphic robot and the level of personal characteristics such as power and status play a role in how consumers form and report attitudes towards robots or marketing communication material that depicts such entities. One-hundred and five undergraduates (54 women, mean age = 22.73) took part in our study. Participants first responded to the scales measuring their loneliness, power and status. Participants then reported their mood and moved on to the robotic violence manipulation. Participants were randomly assigned to one of the three photographs depicting a falling robot because of direct human violence, indirect human violence or an accident. Then we measured their evaluation of the material, of the robot, WOMM intentions, their familiarity with the material and their involvement in robotics for control purposes, anthropomorphism level, pre- and post- mood, and demographics. There was a significant effect of the photograph type on attitudes towards the visual (F(2,96) = 3.274; p = 0.043), that is the indirect violence condition evoked more favorable attitudes (M = 4.34; SD = 0.19) than the accident condition (M = 3.65; SD = 0.20, p = 0.013) but not compared to the direct violence condition (M = 3.96; SD = 0.21, p = 0.180). Moreover, there was a marginally significant two-way interaction between power and photograph type on the attitudes (F(1,95) = 3.0021; p = 0.086). The photograph caused a difference in attitudes only if the individual possessed low sense of power (-1SD, 3.97 / 7.00) and not if the viewer had average (M = 4.75 / 7.00) or high sense of power (+1SD, 5.54 / 7.00). People low in power demonstrate variability across contexts (Kraus et al., 2011), which is replicated in our study using anthropomorphized robotic images. Our results are expected to have many implications and pave the way for future work looking at the interaction between the service recipient and the service provider.
Over recent years, the number of studies, books and publications regarding the use of ICT (Information Communication technologies) or artificial intelligence in the organization of travels as well as supporting the decision-making process of consumers was notably increased. However, no less true is that little attention was paid to how automated robots help or interrogate in the nature of tourism. Originally understood as a rite of passage, tourism interrogates the alterity by introducing a stranger into an unfamiliar territory. Tourism signifies the encounters of guest and hosts but equally important, these liminoid spaces of hospitality, which facilitates tourism, needs not only from the recognition of the otherness but building its ontology as human-being. Here a more than interesting question arises, what does happen if these others who assist tourists are impersonal machines, robots or cyborgs. This chapter centres philosophically on the dilemmas and challenges of robot-tourism in understanding the other, precisely in a World where robots lack of legal capacity. Paradoxically, some critical voices alerted that the expansion of Western economies introduces further automated agents for production debarring humans to precaritization and subordination. Is tourism part of this reality? Quite aside from this, we discuss critically to what extent the adoption of robots to meet with guests and their needs prompts what some scholars dubbed as "the death or the end of hospitality". Though this essay review gives not an ideological opinion, we explore through the lens of many sociological waves which thematized on the leaps and bounds of technology and its effects on human existence. While some scholars lament the introduction of robots as hosts is a token of the end of hospitality, others understand that the trends in leisure and consumption -as well as the organization of travelsare substantially changing daily towards interesting but intriguing forms.
Conversational systems have come a long way after decades of research and development, from Eliza and Parry in the 60's and 70's, to task-completion systems as in the ATIS project, to intelligent personal assistants such as Siri, and to today's social chatbots like XiaoIce. Social chatbots' appeal lies in not only their ability to respond to users' diverse requests, but also in being able to establish an emotional connection with users. The latter is done by satisfying the users' essential needs for communication, affection, and social belonging. The design of social chatbots must focus on user engagement and take both intellectual quotient (IQ) and emotional quotient (EQ) into account. Users should want to engage with the social chatbot; as such, we define the success metric for social chatbots as conversation-turns per session (CPS). Using XiaoIce as an illustrative example, we discuss key technologies in building social chatbots from core chat to visual sense to skills. We also show how XiaoIce can dynamically recognize emotion and engage the user throughout long conversations with appropriate interpersonal responses. As we become the first generation of humans ever living with AI, social chatbots that are well-designed to be both useful and empathic will soon be ubiquitous.