AsiaMag | Henn-na Hotel : Robots Employees

Henn-na Hotel : Robots Employees

As we know, Japan is at the forefront of technology, especially robotics. The chain hotem “Henn Na” has made the bet to replace the majority of its employees with robots …

Henn-na Hotel (which means ‘strange’) opened in 2015 in Sasebo, Nagasaki Prefecture, was the first in the world to be “almost” entirely run by robots. There are currently 9 hotels of this type, which have opened in Japan.

Humanoid robots or robots-dinosaurs at the reception, automated luggage trolleys, voice assistants in the room, dog-dancer robots in the lobby, fish-robots in the aquarium, a facial recognition system to access the bedrooms…etc..

Initially, the project was intended to reduce costs and fill the local labor shortage by allowing robots to perform relatively simple tasks, such as baggage and waste management. Subsequently, the robots quickly saw their numbers increase to replace as much as possible the human presence. Practical, since they do not claim any salary or leave, and can work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Moreover, it initially attracted the curious clientele to see what could be a hotel run by robots. Some of these hotels being placed in amusement parks, it added a “fantastic” touch to the stay.

Unfortunately, not everything went as planned. Most of these robot gadgets have proved ineffective or even annoying. To the point that the hotel had to get rid of half of its machines and hire humans.

Upon registration, the humanoid receptionists simply redirected customers to a touch screen, and struggled to answer simple questions about flight schedules or places to visit. It was not unusual either that they needed human assistance to scan the documents of the travelers.

The baggage carriers were slow, noisy, and did not reach all the rooms. Some began to bug when they took the rain, and burrowed in crossing the corridors. In the rooms, the assistant robot, in charge of answering simple questions, and regulating brightness and temperature, sometimes started up at night “awake” by the snoring of customers.

Despite this, the director of the hotel chain Henn Na, did not give up his dream of a hotel 100% automated … but this is not for tomorrow!