What does the future of travel look like?

Find out why advances in technology mean that robots could play a big role in your next holiday!

A man's hand rings a service bell being held by a robot hand, set against a turquoise background

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Digital technology is constantly changing so it’s no surprise that technology in the travel industry is evolving as well.

One of the major advancements in travel industry technology is collaborative robots, or cobots, which are now being used much more often throughout the hospitality and travel industries. 

A 2016 study found that nearly 66% of travellers would be comfortable with robots playing a greater role in travel. And three quarters of respondents said that they believe that they will make their lives better.

Rather than replacing humans in the workforce, cobots are meant to operate alongside humans in a shared workspace. They can help to improve customer service and guest experiences, from booking your tickets through to your actual holiday.

But what are cobots and how might they feature in your next holiday?

What are Cobots?

Sci-fi films paint a picture of the 21st century where robots that look like humans wait on our every need. Some robots do resemble humans, and we call those androids, but most robots are not actually like that. 

Cobots are robots which use Artificial Intelligence to carry out tasks that humans would normally do. AI lets them carry out problem solving or understand human speech so that they can handle questions and requests. 

This means that cobots are very useful for automated tasks and self-service areas in the travel industry. Cobots can work with greater speed and accuracy than humans and they’ll never get tired or bored with repetitive tasks. They can carry on working 24/7 even when humans aren’t working, which offers cost savings for the company and travellers. Cobots can also free up human staff to provide a wider range of in-person services and improve the guest experience.

So here are just a few of the ways that you may encounter cobots on your next holiday:

Middle aged man and woman booking a holiday on their tablet

Chatbots for travel booking

You’ve probably already encountered cobots whenever you’ve used a website to book hotels or flights. Chatbots are one of the most common uses of robots in the travel and hospitality sectors. They are often used to help deal with basic customer service queries or to guide customers through their booking.

A Cobot-staffed hotel

The Henn-na Hotel in Nagasaki, Japan, is the first hotel in the world where all the staff are cobots. Robots help at the front desk and speed up check-in and check-out services. They can provide information for guests using technology such as voice and face recognition.

There’s also a robot porter who carries your suitcase to one of the hotel’s 100 rooms, which use facial recognition software instead of keys.

Robot Concierge

Even if most of the staff at your next hotel stay are human, you may well come across a cobot concierge. Chatbots can provide 24/7 service ensuring a quick response to guest queries even when staff are generally unavailable.

Thanks to speech recognition technology, the cobot will also be able to answer guests’ queries in a variety of different languages, and Artificial Intelligence allows the cobot to learn from each interaction so that it can make constant improvements to its service. 

Travel Agency Robots

You may even deal with a cobot when you book your holiday, as travel agencies are starting to use them to ease congestion during busy periods.

Instead of making you wait until a human is free to start the booking process, the cobot will be able to get to work right away, taking note of your requirements and passing the information onto a human when one is available.

Empty chairs in the departure lounge of an airport. The plane can be seen through the large glass windows of the airport

Cobot technology at Airports

New technology is increasingly in use at airport security to help improve safety for passengers. Cobots can detect concealed weapons with more accuracy than human eyes.

Other airports use baggage robots to help customers check in, print bag tags and transport suitcases or to clean public areas with unattended automation.

A Robot Suitcase

Yes, you could even take a cobot suitcase along with you on holiday. The Travelmate suitcase uses robotics including anti-collision technology to follow you along without you needing to lift a finger!

Who knows, maybe your next holiday will see cobot baristas pouring a latte or a cobot bartender mixing a mojito. We’ll probably always want humans around us when we travel but as travel providers increase their use of cobots, it’s likely that travellers will grow more used to trusting machines to handle their various needs.