Watson-enabled robot concierge named Connie at Hilton McLean in Virginia

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal reported that while some people are fascinated by the possibilities that high-tech hotels promise, others feel alienated due to the lack of human interaction.

The article, which explores the controversial topic of computer-automated services in hotels, highlights how in some markets (most notably in Japan) many traditional services offered by hotel staff have been replaced by robots utilizing artificial intelligence to carry out voice and text-based conversations. For example, at the concierge desk at Henn-na Hotel in Nagasaki, Japan, guests are greeted by two staff members — one speaks Japanese and the other English — but both are robots.

The future of artificial intelligence use in hotels remains a mystery for now, but many hoteliers remain highly optimistic. The Hilton McLean Tysons in Virginia, for example, houses an R&D division currently running approximately 30 experiments — one of which involves guests interacting with Connie. Connie, named after the hotel chain’s founder Conrad Hilton, attends the reception desk, applying cognitive reasoning that is powered by IBM’s Watson technology to help guests with common questions about the hotel’s services. Guests receive relevant information parsed by the two-foot robot, but the questions need to be kept quite basic for now as Connie continues to evolve.


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