Castelló, (EFE).- Tokio and Nairobi are two social robots that have provided service for several days in two hotels in Castellón and Madrid within an ambitious research project, which seeks to verify whether or not guests feel comfortable with the help they are offered during their stay in those establishments.
Customers, prone to interact
The first conclusions indicate that customers have been quite prone to interacting with robots and that people “liked the experience”, which has been “very positive in most cases”, according to Luis Callarisa, a professor at the Jaume I University of Castellón (UJI), explained to EFE.
Developed from the UJI by researchers from the IMK-Innovation in Marketing group and directed by Professor Miguel Ángel Moliner and Professor Callarisa, both from the field of marketing and market research, the project reflects that these robots still need a person nearby, which helps to make the interaction more friendly and avoid rejection.
Analyze the perception of this service
This project is part of a series of experiments with social robots that seek to analyze the perception that Hospitality customers (hotels) have about this service, in order to find out the added value that these robots can bring to the tourism sector and what kind of characteristics they must have to satisfy the customer.
Specifically, the project studies the impact of functionality and warmth on service quality, perceived value and satisfaction, and is funded by the central government and in collaboration with the company ADD.
The researchers have already begun to evaluate the experience of these two robots, which were providing their services for fifteen days at the Intur Orange hotel in Benicàssim and at the Intur Palacio San Martín hotel in Madrid.
Tokyo can even call a taxi
Tokyo -which children especially liked- has up to twenty-four functions and can offer services as an information point; accompaniment to some place like the rooms or the dining room; he can explain the menu or even call a taxi.
It has, like Nairobi, an integrated tablet that allows interaction, although both communicate with humans by voice.
Nairobi also has ventriloquist function
Nairobi, with a humanoid female appearance, also has the ventriloquist function, which allows employees, through a mobile application, to communicate with customers through the robot; He gestures with his face and can send welcome messages, although he has a more limited schedule than Tokyo.
Both robots were serving clients not without some anecdotes, such as the case of some clients of Belgian origin who tried to take the robot to their room in Madrid or in Benicàssim, where some guests took Tokyo’s lips off.
Based on these experiences, the researchers have carried out 500 surveys and a control study in a week without robots, to see the perception of the hotel that was had with and without them and to find out, furthermore, if they help to improve the image of the hotel and the perception of quality, to find out what they are capable of contributing and if their services are perceived positively or not.
Callarisa indicates that the robots, depending on their price and their programming, have infinite possibilities, they can program routes and could even be waiters.
But during the experiment they have verified that the robot “does not behave the same in the morning as it does in the afternoon” and “it learns and takes practice when doing certain tasks”, as well as that they are “sensitive, believe it or not” and are affected by factors such as changes in temperature and humidity.
Now, immersed in these two projects that are in force, one until the end of this year and the other until the end of 2024, a follow-up analysis is being carried out through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, with the comments and interactions before the robots and another after the fact, to see “how the feeling towards robots has evolved on the part of society”.
At the same time, the researchers are seeing the reaction of the hotel employees, something that is “more complicated” because they need to be aware that “a robot is not going to take your job” because “they have the flexibility that the robot does not.”
But yes “it can help you with the most routine work”, even if it ends up needing human support in what needs an interpretation.
From the management of the hotels, explains the professor, the acceptance has also been good, because they grant “brand awareness, a lot of information traffic on social networks and a great media impact and repercussion”. By Rosabel Tavera