(NewsNation Now) — Meet Alfred, the Dream Hollywood Hotel’s robot concierge.
Alfred was introduced as a way for guests to limit interactions during the pandemic. But room service by a robot could also be the answer to the problem of labor shortages plaguing the hotel industry.
Alfred performs a variety of duties, such as greeting guests and delivering toiletries, but he doesn’t accept tips.
Alfred is a dream employee, according to Vaughn Davis, the hotel’s general manager, and is quite an attraction at the hotel.
“He never calls in sick, he never complains and he’s always on time,” Davis added.
Robots are key staff members since guests these days have a preference for less contact. So much so, there are plans for Alfred to be joined by a bigger bot friend later this month.
“So you have the contactless safety portion of the guest journey and then the experience of it,” Davis said of his automated workers. “For us, it’s a no-brainer, so that’s why we added another robot.”
Davis said that Alfred supplements his staff “a tremendous amount,” which in turn “allows our team to deliver an exceptional guest experience.”
And guests are impressed.
“We called the front desk and they said, ‘Hey we’ll send Alfred.’ My fiancé and I look at each other. Alfred? As soon as we opened our door, there’s this robot greeting us with our food. It was amazing,” hotel guest Edward Delarosa said.
As CEO of Savioke Service Robots, Steve Cousins runs the company that runs the robots rented out to over a hundred businesses nationwide. To him, the bots are improving, not replacing jobs.
“Everybody understands that we need more automation to help with the labor shortage,” Cousins said. “It makes the worker more valuable to the organization, allows them to earn a higher wage because they’re not wasting their time doing tasks that are frankly beneath them.”
The Savioke company is set to double its deployment of hotel robots across the country this year. Its newest model is advertised as being bigger and better at handling elevators.
Beyond hotels, bots are also picking up the slack in all kinds of industries.
A bunch of bots are already in action in the short-staffed restaurant industry. The U.S. Postal service just added bots for sorting. Companies including Kroger and Amazon rely on bots at fulfillment centers. And camera bots have been rolling around TV studios for years.
With more service robots now able to handle elevators and navigate multiple floors, expect more machines to join the workforce soon at hospitals, schools, construction sites, and beyond.
But at hotels, there are still many jobs that remain protected from automation.
“We’re not even close to robots that can change the linens,” Cousins said. “So housekeeping … still going to be a lot of people involved.”
Watch Alfred in action in the video player at the top of the page.