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Could Technology Dehumanise the Hotel Experience?
By Yeoh Siew Hoon
Monday, 20th March 2017

A thin line between sweetness of efficiency and coolest new thing: Hotel chiefs speaking at the HICAP Update in Singapore last week expressed concern over whether 'too much attention to technology' could dehumanise the industry.

In his opening, Robert Hecker, managing director, Pacific Asia, Horwath HTL asked that with all the talk about the Internet of things, “are we focused on the right thing?”

Right: From left, Jonas Ogren, director, Howarth HTL, moderating; Nicholas Clayton, Capella, Thorstein Kirschke, Carlson Rezidor and Barry Robinson, Wyndham.

Asking for a show of hand as to who’s ever left an item behind in a hotel and if a hotel had ever called to say “you’ve left an item behind” before you’ve even realised it” – to which very few put up their hands – Hecker said, “I don’t think robots or AI will ever be able to do that.  Are we focusing on the right thing – the Internet of things or the hotel experience?”

Thorsten Kirschke, president Asia Pacific, Carlson Rezidor Hotel Group, when speaking about “the coolest new thing” and “keyless entry and automated check-in” and “robots delivering room service” were mentioned, said, “I wouldn’t pay so much attention to one feature. I am a romantic, I prefer my hotels to be more personal.”

Aura, the Savioke Relay Robot, deployed at M Social, Singapore, made an appearance at WIT 2016, serving coffee to delegates

He added, “We have to be very careful – between the sweetness of efficiency and the shining new thing on the block. It’s a dangerous path. Just because we can doesn’t mean we should. We have to find the right means of applying technology in a way that doesn’t dehumanise the industry.”

Read the full story here.

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