The human touch and personalized service have long been a luxury at department stores, airlines, restaurants and any number of other avenues where consumers pay for a thing or an experience.
The hospitality industry has been an exception though.
But, writes Matthew Kronsberg in the WSJ, that may be changing:
At the Aloft hotel in Cupertino, Calif., guests who request a toothbrush or razor from the front desk will find Botlr, a short, poker-faced servant-on-wheels, delivering it to their door. Neither Botlr nor Connie care if you stiff them on a tip.
So if the staff is robotic, but is efficient and gets the job done, will guests care?
At low-to-mid-market hotels that cater to varying degrees of price-sensitive clients, I don’t think they would or should, since what they’re after is generally a somewhat clean hotel with a bunch of amenities that just work.
Not so, at the other end of the spectrum
Maria Razumich-Zec, regional vice president and general manager of the Peninsula Chicago, among the most technologically innovative hotels in the U.S., thinks it’s unlikely that automated desk agents and concierges will become as ubiquitous in hotels as TVs, especially not in luxury hotels. “Technology is part of Peninsula’s DNA,” said Ms. Razumich-Zec, “but it doesn’t take the place of human interaction. We believe there’s no substitute for the personal touch.”
So in the next 2 decades, with AI becoming ever-more powerful, robots becoming ever-more versatile and interactive bots becoming a fixture in our everyday lives, its easy to see why just the rich will expect and want the human touch – and pay a premium for it.