Covid Innovation in Hospitality
n a year characterised by the challenges endured by the global pandemic, the hospitality industry has been forced to go through a substantial transformation with innovative technological solutions. The array of modern technologies that are currently used allow hospitality businesses differentiate from the competition, whilst complying with the new standards. Robotics, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), Visual Recognition and Virtual Reality (VR) all terms historically reserved for gadget TV shows and technology websites have now very quickly found their way into mainstream hotel descriptions, services and even guest reviews.
One of the latest technologies gaining ground in the hospitality sector is the visual recognition, a technology solution increasingly used for keyless entry into buildings and rooms and more recently to track the use of face masks, track users’ movements in buildings and supervise the distance between users.
CitizenM, the Dutch ‘affordable luxury’ hotel brand offers a minimal fuss contactless experience, effectively providing guests with extra confidence in their wellbeing during their stay. Using an app on a mobile device, guests can open their rooms or create a key card. Once a guest checks in, they can use their phone to open their room, order food and beverages, control the in-room experience, then check-out when they have finished their stay.
Robot butlers and concierge delivering towels, sterilizing rooms and answering simple hotel or neighbourhood related questions are a great tool, which can not only provide personalised service to customers when necessary but also help minimise contact with staff for reasons of social distancing. They are now increasingly commonplace components of the ever-growing innovation armoury used by the hospitality industry in the battle to make their premises COVID secure.
Rosé, Wally, Winnie, Hannah, Beverly, Jeno, Jena and Ace are examples of the robot concierge currently employed by Marriott, Hilton and Shangri-La facilitating guests who prefer piece-of-mind contactless delivery of small items. You may (like me) be wondering if robots substitute staff members who might otherwise be delivering items. Thankfully, we are assured that’s not the case - the robots can't carry luggage, make beds or take reservations. They can assist with hotels' intense cleaning regimes, using virus-zappers that emit broad-spectrum ultraviolet light to destroy viruses and bacteria within minutes. Enhancing, not replacing the hotel’s regular cleaning, they go in afterwards, providing a super-sterilizing second blast without added chemical risk. Direct exposure to general UV light is dangerous to human tissue, so, after set-up, the robots work alone, overnight in the public areas and in each guest room after checkout.
It might seem that the evolution of these technologies is potentially further detrimental to jobs, however the conundrum faced by hospitality providers require innovative solutions that can be facilitated by humans and technology working in tandem. Indeed, if the current safety risks are not properly addressed by hospitality establishments this can lead to serious consequences impacting the financial health of the businesses. The current context catalyses the need for more innovative solutions in the industry and while costly to implement can potentially save companies from permanently closing their doors to the customers.
Here at Studio 104 we’ve had to adapt our products, services and processes to meet the new demands compelled by the pandemic. Whilst not on the same level as some of our big clients like Marriott International (whom we are the only nominated bespoke uniform provider for in Europe) and we’ve certainly no plans yet to employ robot range designers, or indeed blast our central London studio with infra red rays each night - we have Marli our whirlwind real-person cleaner who more than sufficiently sterilises the socially distanced workspaces and makes everything Covid-compliant for the following day. Yet, we have introduced PPE to our ranges, supplying gorgeous bespoke face coverings to clients like Sotheby’s and Japan House. We limit face to face client meetings to a minimum and our automated online order and delivery service limits touch-points both in the clients premises and at source.
So we have only one question for Rosé - the social distancing robot ambassador. When would you like to be fitted for your first Studio 104 bespoke uniform?
Written by Ian (Chief Revenue Officer)