Hilton Hotels and IBM Watson have partnered to introduce and test an artificial intelligence robot named Connie who assists guests with all questions pertaining to the hotel and the local area. The test robot currently resides next to the reception desk of the Hilton McLean, adjacent to Hilton’s corporate headquarters. How will this new technological amenity improve the family experience at hotels? How will these robots handle to crazy questions that kids will ask them?
Hilton in conjunction with IBM Watson is testing an intriguing artificial intelligence project in the form of a small blue and white robot named Connie (named after Hilton founder Conrad). Connie will be the robotic concierge, assisting guests in the lobby of the Hilton McLean, near Hilton’s corporate headquarters in Virginia.
Connie’s location next to the reception desk is meant to give guests easy access to answers for basic question about the hotel and locations of its amenities. This will free up staff, leaving them to focus on efficient check-in and check-out assistance.
I know I am not the only mom who hears her preschooler giggle into an iPad, “Siri, show me a picture of dog poop.” As an artificial intelligence project, the robot learns from each question a guest asks. Yikes.
A great perk is that Connie is multilingual. Connie will be able to answer questions for international hotel guests who are attending meetings like, “Where is the main ballroom?” in several different languages.
Connie will also be able to answer basic concierge questions, too, like about nearby shopping and dining recommendations. This is possible through a partnership with WayBlazer.
I think the entertainment value for families is obvious. Children will enjoy asking Connie questions, but we can only hope they are of the appropriate and relevant kind. Hotel staff are able to read through a log of questions asked from guests and Connie’s answers at the end of each day.
Hilton was one of the first brands to allow guests to choose their room at check-in at reception kiosks and, like Starwood, has been rolling out digital keys where smartphones can work as room keys.
The Walt Disney World Resort has adapted new technology with great success with the Magic Band, and the online check-in piece from My Disney Experience online enables a guest to go directly to a room without stopping at the front desk, typically a huge convenience for families who simply want to get settled as quickly as possible.
The use of robots in hotels isn’t new. A hotel in Japan that is staffed mostly by robots opened recently, and Carnival Cruise has robots on two of their ships. Travelers have indicated it is a trend they are comfortable with in many industry surveys.
Although Hilton seems to be using Connie now to assist meeting and convention guests, it would be clever for the brand to explore a family entertainment piece for Connie. Hotel trivia games or other ways to engage young guests would be a smart and efficient use of technology for the leisure market of travelers.
Our children only know a world that has always had artificial intelligence, and their openness to integrating it into every day life should make them one of Connie’s priorities.