Meet Hilton’s Latest Hire, Connie, the Concierge Robot

(Author : Rob Kleimam)
Social robots could change the customer experience for hotel visitors. At the reception desk of a Hilton hotel in McLean, Virginia, a robot named Connie could help you get around town, find a museum or recommend what to do during your visit.

It stands nearly two feet tall, working side-by-side with hotel staff to greet guests upon arrival, assist with visitor requests and answer questions about the hotel. Connie, named after Hilton’s founder Conrad Hilton, marks the first time IBM has developed a Watson-enabled robot for the hospitality industry.

Though already a fast learner, Connie is getting on-the-job training. The friendly concierge is powered by Watson, IBM’s cognitive computing technology platform that allows systems to understand the world in the way humans do: through senses, learning and experience. The robot is the NAO from Aldebaran. Over time, it will learn, adapt and improve its recommendations after interactions with guests, and provide data on interactions that were previously impossible to capture, enabling continual improvement of the customer experience.

The more guests that interact with Connie, the more it learns, adapts and improves its recommendations. The hotel will also have access to a log of the questions asked and Connie’s answers. The robot uses a combination of Watson APIs, including Dialog, Speech to Text, Text to Speech and Natural Language Classifier to interact with guests and respond to their questions in a friendly and informative manner.

Watson helps Connie understand and respond naturally to the needs and interests of Hilton’s guests—an experience that’s particularly powerful in a hospitality setting, where it can lead to deeper guest engagement. Watson’s cognitive computing capabilities directly improves the in-destination experience for travelers by providing personalized and relevant insights and recommendations. Delivering this value through a new form factor such as a robot could transform brand engagement and loyalty at the Hilton and potentially set new industry standards.

This concierge robot is not the first of its kind. For example, aloft has its botlrunit that helps pick up and deliver guest amenities, carry linens and towels from the laundry room to guest rooms, fitness centers, and more. A Japanese hotel run by robots reportedly helps customers check in at the front desk, provides porter service, and offers room cleaning services via bots.

Connie is the latest example of Hilton’s turning to innovation to enhance guest stays. This project gives Watson’s cognitive computing a physical form, and helps to embody the potential. This helps also benefits Aldebran, maker of thePepper robots, because by using Watson—the robots it get smarter and the company adds to its robots’ cognitive capabilities.

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