Some of you "Insiders" might have already read the article, "The Cold Comforts of High-Tech Hotels", in today's Off Duty section of the Wall Street Journal, publishing information about how many hotels - Hilton, Starwood and Marriott included - are adapting their facilities to cater to the growing high-tech marketplace (personal labor reduction in disguise - my opinion).
Specifically, the Hilton McLean Tysons Corner, Virginia (USA), hotel now "employs" a two-foot tall robot, "Connie", concierge at the reception desk to advise guests regarding the hotel's services (see "Connie" in white uniform from photo below); and at the Aloft hotel in Cupertino, California, a robotic butler, "Botlr", delivers items, such as missing toiletries (toothbrush, razor, etc.) to your room. Room key will soon be obsolete replaced by your Smartphone, coded for entry by the front desk, or perhaps via mobile check in from a distance. Some Marriott hotels already have this system in place.
Here's the irony: More than likely, you probably won't find these "services" at lower-costs Motel 6, Red Roof Inn, or Days Inn, or perhaps Marriott Fairfield Inns, the hotel chains that seemingly survive on lower operating costs margins. Most likely, they couldn't afford cost of a robot. So, when you pay $150-300+ per night for more luxury-oriented hotel rooms, would you feel welcomed, appreciated, comforted (other verbs welcomed) by non-personal, high-tech robots, or a programmed-humanoid, than a real, live, personable human being with an more extensive vocabulary, or is this going to be the "New Norm"? Marriott, along with other hotels, encourage guests' reporting outstanding service from their hotel personnel; should we offer the same to "Connie"? (erc posted a similar article in 2014)
It's one thing to check in at the airport kiosk via computer, but are hotels going too far with this "development", or might this just be another attempt to demonstrate how techno-savy the hotel is? Maybe the "Mattrix" is really true!
For those who don't read the WSJ, here is link to article to which I've referenced: Are High-Tech Hotels Alluring—or Alienating? - WSJ
fschumpert, Grand Hyatt New York and Hyatt Regency Chicago have some of these features in place and have had them for some time. At first I was really put off by them, but once I tried them they worked really well, and I began to appreciate the option and even prefer it. The key kiosk (not a cutesy pie robot, but just a few machines that look like ATMs) at Grand Hyatt NY is actually a huge timesaver as you don't have to wait in line or be pressured by an overly assertive bellhop about taking your tiny roller carryon up to the room for you in exchange for a tip you'd rather not have to give for a service you never wanted to receive. But I'm an experienced no-nonsense business traveler. My goal is to get in, get out, and get moving. I know how to navigate hotels without having my hand held. So I might have different needs that less frequent travelers or leisure travelers. By the way, the profit margins at the 5-star luxuries are usually lower than at the budget hotels. Some of the el cheapo properties are real cash cows, whereas the fancy schmancies are not. Those 5-star RCs are very, very expensive to build and maintain.
clebert - I've traveled for over 50 years and when alone I whole heartily agree with you about checking into/out of hotel rooms. However, when my wife is with me, my luggage inventory tends to be higher, and we sometimes require assistance. Also, we often utilize the concierge services in restaurant suggestions (if in strange town) and reservations. For these, I appreciate talking to a real, live human.