Four years have passed since the first hotel managed entirely by robots opened its doors in Nagasaki (Japan). Many questioned it already then and doubted the ability of the machines to meet the needs of customers without any human intervention. But it has not been until now when the owners of the hotel chain Henn-na have decided to rectify: they have dispensed with more than half of the robots and have hired humans, according to pick up The Wall Street Journal.
The story of the hotel went viral immediately and the image of two speeding robots as receptionists became a claim for curious tourists. Together with them, almost 250 robots performed customer service, cleaning, luggage transport and assistance in the rooms. But most of them have turned out to be a disaster: they have a hard time understanding many of the questions that customers ask them, they make room for their luggage, and even the voice assistant in each room awakens travelers who snore telling them They have not been able to understand your request. A way of working very far from what is expected of a five-star hotel.
With this situation extending over time, there came a time when the use of robots gave more work than it took. Another reason that has led the company to make this decision is the obsolescence of many of them. Customers arriving at the hotel were accustomed to dealing with more advanced voice assistants, such as Alexa and Siri, and those found in the establishment seemed to fall short.
Originally, Hideo Sawada, CEO of Henn-na, thought about including the robots to counteract the performance problems that the establishment was going through. Its objective was to create the most productive and efficient hotel in the world, as explained in an interview with Vodafone ONE three years ago. "The rate for three- and four-star hotels is constantly rising and that increase in price is a problem for many tourists," he said then. "A situation like this can be solved by the robots, which would make the costs decrease and also make it more efficient in many ways." But it seems that not at all desired. His initiative earned him the recognition of Guinness World Records for being the first hotel managed entirely by machines but it has given him more problems than solutions.
- Automation is not enough yet
Having to rehire human beings so that the hotel remains viable Highlights the current limits of automation. It also makes clear how far we are still that robots take away our work, even in customer service positions, which fill the lists of the most automated jobs in most studies on the subject.
But this is not enough reason to surrender. According The Wall Street Journal, Sawada says he maintains the idea of having a hotel without human workers one day. But the Henn-na has taught him that there are many jobs that humans continue to perform better. "When you start using a robot you realize that there are places where, simply, they are not necessary," he says.