An increasing number of hotels are making enquiries to Savioke about its room service robots, according to the company.
As the hospitality industry struggles to adapt to changing consumer behavior during the coronavirus pandemic, many hotels are turning to room service robots to help wary travelers feel more at ease.
David Wang, director of sales and marketing at the Crowne Plaza San Jose – Silicon Valley hotel, in Milpitas, says: “Guests now think of it as a perk to not have a person come to their room.
“So the less human interaction we have, the better.”
Such service bots have been around for years, helping hotels slim down on room service delivery time. But with the pandemic twisting norms across the spectrum of human interaction, more businesses have expressed interest in leasing them.
In the last six months, inquiries have quadrupled at Savioke, the San Jose company that manufactures the bots, according to Bill Booth, the company’s head of sales and marketing.
“The robots don’t sneeze, as we say,” Booth says.
Savioke leases out about 100 bots to more than 80 hotels, several of which are in the Bay Area, and has clocked upwards of 700,000 deliveries across its fleet since it launched seven years ago.
Hotels in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and elsewhere have recently put in robot orders, Booth says. Hospitals, high-rise office and apartment building managers have also been calling.
The company is the brainchild of Steve Cousins, former CEO of the Willow Garage robotics incubator in Menlo Park, which closed in 2014. Savioke starting shipping bots to hotels the same year.
“We had a sense that the service industry broadly was not well served by robotics and automation,” says Cousins, founder and CEO of Savioke. “One thing that’s cool about putting robots in hotels is lots of people see them.”
The 304-room Crowne Plaza ordered its first room service bot, which it calls Dash, in 2015. Standing about three feet tall and outfitted with a bow-tie sticker, the bot comes with a touchscreen face and locking compartment at its head, and scoots around like an autonomous vacuum.
The robot is integrated into the hotel’s elevator system, greets guests with beeps and boops, and knows to steer clear of open stairwells.
Main picture: Manager Jeremy Kueffner shows Astro, a room service drone, at the library of the Hotel Axiom in San Francisco, California.