Autonomous Driving Technology and New Forms of Hospitality

By Steve Lee Founder & Design Principal, Aprilli Design Studio | January 13, 2019

The emergence of new technologies such as Autonomous Driving Technology, Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, and Internet of Things marks the advent of a new era. Despite the recent accidents and criticisms concerning safety issues, Autonomous Driving Technology is rapidly developing with some projections anticipating the first release of commercialized self-driving vehicles in 2021.

The progress in Autonomous Driving Technology appears promising with the accumulation of more test drive results and the development of more advanced systems. Considering the attention focused on the safety and logistics of these new technologies, there is a growing interest in how these new technologies will influence our lifestyles and how industries will change in the future. Among many of the futuristic scenarios including smart cities, drone deliveries, and futuristic lifestyles, this article focuses on how Autonomous Driving Technology may reshape the future of the Hospitality industry.

One of the greatest advantages of self-driving vehicles is that they can provide door-to-door transportation for long distance travels. With level-5 autonomy being achieved, these vehicles will be able to automatically transport passengers to multiple destinations without requiring the passengers to control the vehicle. Owing to the advantages of artificial intelligence, self-driving vehicles will be able to come to your front door and pick up and drop off passengers at multiple destinations while taking care of parking and charging automatically.

Whether a shuttle service between destinations or a fully furnished mobile hotel room, self-driving vehicles can be the perfect platforms to cater to the mobile hospitality services operated by hotel businesses and chains. Compared to domestic flights or train travels that require multiple steps of transfers and check-ins, these new mobile hotel rooms can be operated as the traveler's personal rental car and hotel room providing unlimited flexibility and mobility.

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Guest Service: A Culture of YES

In a recent global consumers report, 97% of the participants said that customer service is a major factor in their loyalty to a brand, and 76% said they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them. And since there is no industry more reliant on customer satisfaction than the hotel industry, managers must be unrelenting in their determination to hire, train and empower the very best people, and to create a culture of exceptional customer service within their organization. Of course, this begins with hiring the right people. There are people who are naturally service-oriented; people who are warm, empathetic, enthusiastic, pleasant, thoughtful and optimistic; people who take pride in their ability to solve problems for the hotel guests they are serving. Then, those same employees must be empowered to solve problems using their own judgment, without having to track down a manager to do it. This is how seamless problem solving and conflict resolution are achieved in guest service. This willingness to empower employees is part of creating a Culture of Yes within an organization.  The goal is to create an environment in which everyone is striving to say “Yes”, rather than figuring out ways to say, “No”. It is essential that this attitude be instilled in all frontline, customer-facing, employees. Finally, in order to ensure that the hotel can generate a consistent level of performance across a wide variety of situations, management must also put in place well-defined systems and standards, and then educate their employees about them. Every employee must be aware of and responsible for every standard that applies in their department. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.