Hilton, IBM Pilot First Watson-Enabled Robot Concierge
PHOTO: Visitors to the Hilton Hotel in McLean, Va. meet "Connie," a robot concierge named after Conrad Hilton and powered by IBM Watson and WayBlazer. (Photo courtesy of Hilton Worldwide)
One of the hotel industry's most innovative companies, Hilton Worldwide is at it again, partnering with IBM to develop the world's first Watson-enabled robot concierge.
Named after the company's founder Conrad Hilton, "Connie" was developed specifically for the hospitality market.
By accessing domain knowledge from Watson and WayBlazer, Connie will be able to assist guests like a human would, informing them on the hotel where they're staying as well as surrounding attractions, for example.
What's more, Connie actually improves with every interaction.
"Watson helps Connie understand and respond naturally to the needs and interests of Hilton's guests — which is an experience that's particularly powerful in a hospitality setting, where it can lead to deeper guest engagement," Vice President and Chief Technology Officer of IBM Watson Rob High said in a statement.
Resembling a toy action figure, Connie is currently being piloted at the Hilton McLean near the company's Virginia headquarters, where its working alongside human Hilton team members.
While a recent survey conducted by Travelzoo shows that a majority of travelers around the world are ready and excited to interact with robots while traveling, guests will have to stay patient.
Hilton said that pilot testing typically takes anywhere from three to six months, during which ideas are tweaked based on feedback from guests and the hotel operator. And when the pilot period comes to an end, the company said it will "weigh its value against its performance goals."
"Our best tests become pilots at a diverse sampling of hotels across our portfolio," said Hilton. "Our best pilots become beta tests, and only the very best scale globally."
Nonetheless the pressure is on. According to Travelzoo's survey of 6,000 travellers in Asia, Europe, North America and South America, eight in 10 anticipate robots will play a significant role in their lives by 2020, while approximately two-thirds of travelers are comfortable with the idea of robots being utilized in the travel industry.
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