By Louise Goldsmith, Head of Marketing, Softbank Robotics EMEA
The challenges faced by the hospitality industry in providing exceptional customer service in a challenging post Covid world.
According to the World Tourism Organization, International tourism continued to recover from the COVID-19 crisis at a strong pace in January-March 2022, with destinations welcoming almost three times as many international tourist arrivals as in the same period of 2021, (and Europe leading the rebound!). This comes as a welcome relief for hospitality businesses, who saw a devastating £115bn worth of damage to the industry since the start of the COVID pandemic.
However, many hotels and restaurants are still facing the prospect of a difficult summer season. Staffing shortages (coupled with stricter cleaning and hygiene processes) are forcing them to reassess their priority levels and compromise on agendas such as guest and customer service.
It will not come as a surprise that 96% of hotel and hospitality brands worldwide say TripAdvisor reviews are influential in generating bookings. And with the reality being that guest satisfaction may have to take a back seat for many hotels and restaurants this year, this could be a worrying prospect for these businesses when they need the return of their customers more than ever. Not only that but research has shown that guests are likely to spend 31% more with businesses with “excellent” reviews. So at a time when margins are tight, it is important to increase sales where possible.
Robotics solutions have long been used in industry to provide assistance for tasks that cannot be achieved by humans alone. But there is increasing evidence to suggest that partnering with a robot can help businesses with efficiency, leading to better customer service levels and overall guest satisfaction.
For the hospitality industry, that has major problems currently with recruiting staff for example, this can be instrumental in finding a solution.
Take the Keenbot T5 tray delivery system, which can improve service efficiency by nearly 200% by working with kitchen and front of house staff to deliver food and beverages from the kitchen to the dining area. This leaves the waiters and waitresses to concentrate on providing optimal customer service and being attentive servers, to enhance guest experience. It also can increase sales by providing faster service times and table turnaround, or allowing servers to spend more time in the dining room taking food and drinks orders.
Similarly, the Whiz autonomous vacuum cleaner is a cobotic solution that helps create cleaner, happier and healthier spaces. Whiz takes care of monotonous vacuuming tasks so that cleaners and housekeepers can concentrate on other areas. Used in conjunction with hotel cleaning teams, this can help to reduce harmful particles on average by 53%, improving occupant wellbeing and, in turn, guest satisfaction.
It is clear there is a long way to go until the hospitality industry is back to pre-pandemic staffing and customer levels, but with cobotics, there is a way to help bridge that gap between demand and customer service, and also create healthier, happier vacation and customer experiences.