Room service by robot

Forgot your toothbrush? Want room service? At Chicago’s Hotel EMC2, just text the “phone-cierge” and Leo or Cleo—a pair of four-foot-tall robots—will deliver what you need. The robot announces its arrival by calling the phone in your room, waits until you open your door and take the item, and then turns, rolls down the hallway, enters the elevator, and returns to the lobby. 

EMC2 isn’t the only hotel trying this sort of technology to improve efficiency. There are currently at least 50 hotel robot butlers in the world, including eight at the Sheraton Los Angeles San Gabriel, delivering luggage, towels, and room service, and offering directions. Since the Sheraton introduced robots, room-service sales have doubled, according to the hotel; plus, the robotic deliveries free up the staff to give guests more personalized attention.

For about $2,000 a month, the Fairfield Inn & Suites in San Diego leases a robot called Hubert that delivers anything that fits in its storage compartment. A robot called Alina, meanwhile, holds court at the Luma Hotel Times Square in New York, traveling at a human walking pace and independently moving between floors. Its 3D cameras and multiple sensors allow it to safely navigate hotel hallways.

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Robot Pepper, at the Mandarin Oriental in Las Vegas, provides personalized communication by detecting facial, body, and voice cues. Pepper gives directions, tell stories, dances, and poses for selfies.

This winter, Yotel Boston introduced a 36-inch robot called Y02D2 that greets guests with clever messages on its touchscreen interface, mingles with guests at the two lounges, and even shimmies to music. “Not all of our guests know that a robot butler will be delivering their items,” says general manager Trish Berry, “so we frequently receive requests asking us to send YO2D2 back for a second delivery. They want to video it for social media because they missed doing so the first time.”

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