Hotels are becoming smarter, more sustainable and inundated with technology. This era of modernization has brought several benefits to guests and proprietors. Smart technology implemented in HVAC and lighting have dramatically cut operating costs while shrinking carbon footprints. On the customer-facing side, guests are treated to an enhanced, more personalized experience with artificial intelligence platforms that help make every getaway tailored specifically for each hotel stay.

Just like any other industry going through a technological transition, however, without the proper training for staff members, the technology is practically rendered useless—especially when that technology is far from perfect.

Using Technology Properly

The Henn Na Hotel in Nagasaki, Japan has been one of the most prolific examples of the new age of hospitality since opening its doors in 2015. The Henn Na, which translates to the Strange Hotel, made international headlines as the first hotel to be heavily-staffed with full-service, multi-purpose robots.

The hotel announced in January that it would lay off more than half of its 240-plus robotic staff amid increasing complaints from guests and human staff of dissatisfaction with the robotic workforce.

The world’s first robot-run hotel was meant to be the foundation for service industries interested in adopting robotic technology. The goal? To make the most efficiently-run hotel in the world by reducing manpower and replacing it with a majority robotic staff. Beginning right at check-in, guests were greeted with the option of a robot for Japanese speakers or a velociraptor-droid easily mistaken as an extra from the set of a Jurassic Park movie for English speakers.

Beyond the check-in, guests were treated to robotic concierges, robotic luggage-storing arms, and in-room assistants to help guests with a variety of simple requests, similar in theory to a ‘Siri’ or ‘Alexa’. The problem, as time would soon show, was the technology was still not consistently responsive.

According to The Mirror, guests complained that the in-room assistants would mistake snoring for commands and awaken understandably disgruntled guests in the middle of the night. The robotic-dinosaur-desk clerks were not as responsive as originally thought to be. In the end, the remaining human staff would be forced to work overtime to constantly maintain the machines and tend to the guests first-hand.

While throughout this process, Henn Na operators found several important ways robots could be utilized in hospitality, there were still plenty of adjustments to the implementation.

Simulating Real Scenarios

This is where hospitality staff training becomes imperative as more hotels and large chains begin adopting more complex technology. This may not just help when a hotel employs a majority-robotic workforce, it also can be used to help train better hospitality workers in general.

One of the more exciting technologies that is just around the corner is virtual reality (VR). VR can replicate a busy front office or hectic hotel restaurant, and test an employee’s ability to handle complaints, deal with two or more requests at any one time (even in multiple languages), all while assisting colleagues with their tasks. This method of training may revolutionize the way hotel and restaurant staffs prepare prospective workers for any situation with an immersive technology.

Augmented reality also holds potential for training hospitality workers. Although the technology is still in its early implementational stages, it could potentially help guide employees in their work.

Hotels and the hospitality industry overall are constantly going through phases of technological upgrades, advancement, and innovations. With over 100 million people throughout the world employed in the industry, the proper training will be the key-factor in the successes of those transitioning into this new modern era of hospitality.

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