Room-Service Robots Deliver Hotel Meals During COVID-19

Contactless delivery is a hit at LAX-area properties

A robot named Hannah is making room-service deliveries at hotels during COVID-19.
Meet Winnie, a Social Distancing Robot Ambassador.

A hotel collection near the Los Angeles International Airport is using room-service robots to deliver meals to guests. This innovation comes as travelers tepidly return to properties that have implemented extensive safety precautions due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The hotels were already using these squat, metallic ‘bots to deliver amenities pre-COVID-19, says Chris Danison, area director of e-commerce for Seaview Investors.

“Obviously, this service has taken a new turn of importance as we respect social distancing and limit human contact,” Danison says.

The Social Distancing Robot Ambassadors are on call at the Embassy Suites by Hilton Los Angeles International Airport North, the Residence Inn by Marriott Los Angeles LAX and two co-branded hotels that share a building—H Hotel Los Angeles and Homewood Suites by Hilton Los Angeles International Airport.

The latter properties also share a lobby eatery. Waypoint Kitchen + Bar has been open for to-go business but closed to in-restaurant dining.

However, thanks to a robot named Hannah, guest can call down for a Southwest Scramble or a plate of buttermilk pancakes. Festive hotel guests can even order a “Make the Mimosa Of It” bottle of champagne with a side of orange juice.

How Room-Service Robots Work

Wally the robot delivers a pet treat.

To get food, amenities or even pet snacks delivered to a hotel room, a guest calls the front desk to request contactless delivery. Note: due to state, local and chain-mandated safety rules, most properties have temporarily banned as much human contact as possible. That includes room service and maid cleanup during stays.

When a request is made, a staff member loads the robot with the requested items. Danison says the compartments on the robots are roughly 15 inches wide and 2-to-3-feet deep. Food orders are sent in to-go containers.

When a robot leaves a lobby docking station a signal is sent to the elevator it will board. An interface with the telephone system directs the robot to the correct room. When Hannah—or Wally or Winnie—arrives, guests get a phone call that their order is outside the door.

The robots are thoroughly cleaned after each delivery.

Everybody Loves A Robot

Room-service robots are a hit with kids of all ages.

Danison says the delivery ’droids are a hit.

“Nearly everyone who turns a corner and sees a robot is surprised,” he reports. “Kids are usually amazed and find this to be a very cool thing. And I think parents see robots through the same amazed eyes as kids.”

Danison says Winnie, Wally and Hannah are usually the stars of hotel reviews. Selfies and videos of the robots are common. The properties have also seen kids’ drawings depicting themselves with the robots.

Hannah and company don’t have voice interface capability. They do offer noises—akin to the sounds that emit from everybody’s favorite Star Wars sidekick, R2D2. Punch in a 5-star review on Hannah and be rewarded with beeps, boops and an AI shimmy.

Danison says the idea to integrate the robots into mandated safety procedures arose organically.

“It was a tool we had at our disposal and it made sense,” he says.

For your next hotel stay, may The Force—and a room-service cheeseburger—be with you.  J&J

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