In a hospitality white paper released by SoftBank recently there was strong evidence supporting the integration of robots into the hospitality industry.
In recent years, there has been a huge staffing shortage in the hospitality industry which has shown no signs of improving. There are almost 1.2 million unfilled positions in the hospitality industry, and this is causing a £22 billion cost to the UK economy each year. This staffing shortage is forcing businesses to close on quieter days, reduce capacity of hotels and restaurants as well as limiting food services and amenities. How can the industry attempt to grow and develop when it is having to combat staff shortages?
The lack of available workers is meaning that hospitality businesses are having to employ individuals who don’t meet a previous standard; creating the need for more training to achieve previous levels of customer service. A combination of European workers leaving the UK because of the pandemic as well as Brexit and an increased social need for work life balance has meant the industry is constantly looking for individuals to fill hospitality roles. Also, an increased number of people have actively chosen to leave the demands of the hospitality industry.
One theory is through utilising technologies and robotics the industry can combat this labour dilemma. Robots are now able to complete cleaning, catering, front of house jobs and service line roles to levels which are in many cases better than humans. Utilising robots to complete the boring or strenuous tasks in businesses can create time and resources for staff to concentrate on critical thinking, problem solving and creativity. Cobotics is a form of technology whereby robots and humans can collaborate to complete tasks. Menial tasks like vacuuming, sterilising and cleaning can all easily be completed by robots to a precise and high standard. By freeing up the time that staff would normally spend on these menial tasks in hospitality energy can be redirected to more meaningful work, which will boost customer service.
Additionally, an increasing number of hotels are utilising technology to create ‘smart hotels.’ These hotels are focused on creating seamless and personalised experiences by utilising technologies which can make checking in and out of hotels seamless, as well as monitoring energy use and sustainability practises. These technologies are also allowing the tailoring of services to the individual guest and increasing the experiences they are receiving. Consumers now more than ever are placing emphasis on consistency, convenience and efficiency, so what better way to ensure this but through robots and technology?
The key point when discussing the use of robots and technology is integration. Whilst a daunting prospect in many aspects these technologies have the power to transform the industry for the better. Creating opportunity for specialised customer services, by the outsourcing of menial and strenuous tasks, can enhance the opportunity for further innovation in the hospitality industry.