Robotics in the Tourism Industry Could Be the New Normal

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A new study done by GlobalData indicates that more companies could invest in robotics to cut long-term costs and meet changes in consumer demands.

The poll, conducted in April 2021, found that 31 percent of its 476 respondents’ companies will invest in robotics within the next twelve months. Robotics itself was the third most popular answer in the poll that asked the question, “Which of the following areas will you/your company invest in over the next 12 months?”

So why the push to invest in robotics?

Robotics reduces the need for human-to-human contact, reducing touchpoints and other situations where COVID-19 could spread; hotels, airports, and other places began using germ-killing robots and even AI-powered concierges to enhance sanitization and personalization.

With so many travelers concerned for their safety while traveling (GlobalData found that 74 percent of consumers are still majorly concerned), robotics can help ease travelers’ fears while also reducing the overall costs of labor for companies. It could be said, at least within the travel industry, that the age of robotics was born out of the global pandemic.

However, reliance on robotics over human labor can also create problems. While germ-killing robots that use UV light to reduce bacteria in the air and on surfaces, like the ones deployed in Key West International and Pittsburgh International Airports, offer important actions that reduce the risk of injury to humans (UV light is harmful to humans’ eyes, as well as to germs), relying too heavily on robots to do tasks that humans can do could be detrimental to the local communities that rely on the tourism industry. {Key West International Airport’s new COVID-19 killing robot (photo via Key West International Airport)}

“Through increasing operational efficiency and improving traveler confidence, robotics in tourism will continue to grow,” said Ralph Hollister, Travel & Tourism Analyst at GlobalData. “However, companies need to ensure that they are not seen to be shunning their social commitments. It must be emphasized that the robots are deployed to work alongside humans, not instead of them.”

From AI-powered digital assistants to robot disinfectors, robotics can help increase safety and offer personalized care during hotel stays, in airports, and even in popular tourism attractions. Hotels are already investing in these, branding them as contactless amenities that enhance guest safety and confidence.

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