GIT201 Automation in Tourism and Hospitality Industry Assessment 1 Answer
GIT201: GLOBAL INNOVATIONS AND TRENDS
Topic Chosen: AUTOMATION
In order to cope with the advancements in technology, it is essential for businesses operating in the hospitality and tourism industry to be able to incorporate the modern and upcoming trends that are becoming popular with the customers. Automation refers to the actions involved in technology, which requires minimal assistance from humans. Automation has been vehemently implemented in the tourism and hospitality sector in terms of almost everything. From reservation of hotel rooms for trips and tours, to reserve tables at restaurants, automation is integrated into this industry. This study would discuss the brief history of automation in the tourism and hospitality industry, along with the major factors influencing the same. Furthermore, the predictions for the future impact of the trend of automation on the tourism and hospitality industry have been established in this paper, along with the concerns and criticisms related to automation in this specific industry.
A brief history of Automation
Automation can be defined as the utilisation of the automatic instrument to speed up the regular work in various industries. There are three types of automation are there such as fixed automation, programmed automation and flexible automation. The aspects of technology, especially the role of IoT, is to be strongly emphasised in this regard. The linking of bank accounts, reservation of hotels, are all performed through customer-oriented software. If the history of the automation is analysed then it could be found that it started in the time of Aristotle and Socrates. In the recent era the automation is entirely captured by the artificial intelligence and robotics. Concept of the AI has been emerged in the ancient greek and the journey of the automation begins in that time. In seventeenth century industrial revolution contributed a lot in the history of the automation. In 1837 the history changing innovation made by the Charles Babbage called as Analytical Engine. It can be said that the actual journey begins in the time of industrial revolution where the demand of cotton, paper increases drastically and revolution in the production was needed. In order to meet the demand the introduction of the automation happened. According to Intelity (2019), the beginning of technology can be cited to 1894, where telephones were introduced in Netherland Hotel, NYC, followed by another significant achievement was the introduction of electricity in hotel rooms in 1910. Revolution in the automation begins in 1948 when William Grey Walter created robot which can work without human involvement. The Westin in 1969 had implemented a 24-hour room service, while in 1973, Sheraton-Anaheim stated in-room movie facility (Intelity, 2019). Hotels like Hyatt and Promus Hotel Corporation had launched websites on the internet in 1994; while back in 1983, the Westin had introduced the facility of payment through major credit cards (Intelity, 2019). The first mobile app for hotels was introduced in 2009, while the recent opening of the Henn-hotel in Japan in 2016, is considered as the first robot hotel in the world (Intelity, 2019).
Key factors driving global automation in the hospitality and tourism industry
The major factors which are thoroughly involved in facilitating the global automation within the tourism and hospitality industry have been established as:
- Technological advancements and growth in GDP and FDI in developed and developing countries
- Gaining competitive advantage
- The increasing cost of labour
- Providing customer satisfaction through the provision of convenience
The technological developments and innovation intrigue the clients and also provide convenience to the consumers. In addition to that, the increasing cost of labour and gaining profitability can be simultaneously managed through cost cut down, which is further aided by process automation in the tourism and hospitality industry (Buhalis& Leung, 2018). Furthermore, the implementation of newer technology adds to the competitive edge or advantage for the hotel.
Automation being used within the hospitality and tourism industries
The implementation of IoT for check-ins and online reservation or booking facilities had been initiated several years ago. These automated processes were followed by online booking management and on-site kiosks for convenient check-outs by consumers (Ivanov, 2019). Additionally, airlines and airports, which are major components of the tourism industry, have also online booking facilities as well as self-service kiosks. This may further be justified by a survey conducted by Travel Leaders Group, regarding the massive availability preference of self-service and check-in kiosks for tourists, in which about 78% of the participants answered positively (Hotelnewsnow, 2019).
Another example can be cited that of the use of robotics, which is increasingly being implemented by hotels, in order to automate major processes that require human assistance. For instance, house-keeping activities are increasingly being automated in order to reduce human interference. Considering the instance of an in-room automation system, it may be stated that the occupancy sensors monitor and modulate the temperature control, light activation and more (Stringam&Gerdes, 2017). Furthermore, cloud computing had been formerly implemented for the documentation and the maintenance of the information of data related to the consumers of the hotels. Moreover, the use of AI can be attributed in providing quality services to the consumers through managing the requirements and preferences of the clients, through predictive analysis, and assist them in their venture in terms of F&B, spa and more (Cohen & Hopkins, 2019).
Predictions for the future impact of Automation on the hospitality and tourism industries
The future impact of automation in the tourism and hospitality industry can be ascertained and evaluated through the improvement of the existing automation processes and concurrent technology. Furthermore, it is to be noted that robotics is being aggressively adopted by several hotels around the world, which can further be improved through extensive research into the subject and the identification of key domains where the application of robotics may be fruitful. The current implementation of robotics is for the automation of housekeeping and other servicing processes. However, it may be stated that the current implementation of technology such as AI, cloud computing, robotics, as well as interactive walls and floors are passively in the developmental stage in the tourism and hospitality industry (Alexis, 2017). For instance, the Hilton Hotel uses Connie, a robot concierge, developed by IBM, for tending to their guests (Intelity, 2019). Furthermore, the use of robotics at airports for security reasons can be supported by Knightscope robots, which are expected to grow and evolve further in the future (Intelity.com, 2019). Regardless, it is to be noted that the drawbacks of robotics and technology in the tourism and hospitality industry can be established as the lack of the ability to adapt to situations instantaneously (Ivanov & Webster, 2017).
Criticism and concerns of Automation
The primary reasons for criticism of automation can be outlined as follows:
- Displacement of Jobs: The automation of the industries has displaced the employees mostly. The hardest hit is the daily wage laborers of the industry, which has led to widespread discontentment and criticism of the automation (Spencer, 2018). The machines are taking over the petty and repeatable jobs of the industry performed by low-level employees of the company which has made them out of jobs as the machines are much more accurate and efficient in repeatable work.
- Unpredictable Development Costs: It is highly unlikely that the companies are unable to estimate the cost required for the development of automated machines. This is a legitimate criticism as economists are sceptical of the investments made by the company would give a minimum return on the finance, which may make the company financially unstable. The cost of the automated machines is also very high initially and requires considerable financial and human resources to be dedicated.
- Disobedience of the data protection laws: The inclination of the companies to tweak and take advantage of non-existent data protection laws. Since this is a fairly new technological territory, the laws are still being formulated and considered (Endsley, 2018). The automating companies are taking advantage of it to store, collect and disseminate data in unethical ways. The automation must be safe and conform to the laws of the land.
The primary concern for automation is as follows:
- Loss of innovation: The use of automatic machines generally increases the production ratio due to accuracy, precision and speed of function, but the innovation and constant evolution are lost in the process of automation. The machines are not capable of innovative or independent thinking, which limits their abilities. The machines are displacing the people out of their jobs who are experts, and the machines are unable to handle a multitude of slightly different jobs.
- Ethical Reasons: The criticism of the automated industry is in the malpractices and ethical infringement, which has led to data breaches and privacy infringements. The automating companies must use the machines fairly obeying all the practices of the ethical considerations of the industry (Pagallo & Durante, 2016). The criticism is also on the applicability of the automation, which may harm the privacy of the user. The companies must be responsible for the data protection of the collected data in order to protect the privacy and identity of the users. The loss of data may have far-reaching consequences.
- The discontinuation of several work posts: As the machines are capable of multi-tasking, the companies adopting automation are discontinuing several posts and collectively creating fewer posts. Thus the individual loss of work specialties is disappearing fast. This requires automation in conjunction with the human element to properly adapt to the changing industrial scenario.
This study chiefly focuses on the automation trend that is a subsequent rage in the industry of tourism and hospitality. The major factors driving the rise in automation in this industry have been identified as the necessity to cut down costs and provide convenience to customers. Additionally, it has been evident that there are numerous concerns and criticisms related to automation prime among them are the inability of quick adaptation to situations. Furthermore, the growth of AI, cloud computing, robotics and more have been found to be effective components in automation in the hospitality industry.