Paula Kelsey of Cloud 9 Event Management, and current AIEA Chair looks at the use of Robots and AI at Events and in Hotels:

At a recent public sector client event which was focused on the food and drink sector, it wasn’t the wonderful displays of breads, cheeses and chocolates or even the amazing array of gins and wines that stole the show, but rather a 2ft robot call NAO. 

Used in libraries and in schools across the county as a learning device, the Cloud 9 team were busy calculating whether we should invest in one of these amazing machines to help out with registration at future events. 

This got us wondering where else advanced technology is being widely deployed and which of the leading hotels are already making significant investments in this area. 

We already know that you can check in using touch screens at many hotels and that by checking in using your phone in advance, you can avoid any human contact at all – but what about other forms of interaction? 

Marriott Hotel EMC2 which is in Chicago, has two robotic members of staff called Cleo and Leo. Dressed to impress with name tags, and coattails, they are the latest additions to Marriott’s robot takeover, and they are largely responsible for ensuring guests get deliveries of forgotten items like toothbrushes, or items such as extra towels or light room service orders.  

Back in March last year it was widely reported that Hilton, together with IBM, had announced a partnership to bring a robot called Connie to the hotel brands McLean, Virginia branch. 

Named after Hilton’s founder, Conrad, Connie is a concierge, able to tell guests about nearby places of interest, provide dining recommendations and information about the hotel. Powered by IBM’s Watson super-computer AI, Connie is about as personable as a robot can get and has a pretty extensive range for looking after guest enquiries.  

Before Connie was just an idea, there was an earlier test robot tech at the Crowne Plaza in, unsurprisingly, the Silicon Valley branch. Called Dash, it has the role of deliveries with the express emphasis to bring guests snacks, toiletries, and advice on hotel services. 

Dash makes its way through the hotel, and using a unique Wi-Fi connection it can call the lift and then to the surprise of many a guest, can phone to announce it has arrived.  

We don’t think we have the budget for any of these just yet here at Cloud 9 so we’ll stick to humans for now, but watch this space!