Business Traveller

Introducing AURA, the room service robot

Francesca Street, CNNPublished 15th August 2017
(CNN) — What's your favorite hotel perk: Is it the swanky gym, the fluffy pillows, the opulent spa? Or maybe it's the simple but luxurious treat that is room service. After all, once you've ordered an indulgent breakfast in bed, it's hard to go back to making it yourself.
One hotel in Singapore is taking room service to a new level thanks to AURA, the room service robot.
AURA works in the M Social Hotel in Singapore -- a lifestyle hotel designed with the business-traveling millennial in mind.
"The inspiration behind AURA the Relay Robot is to bring convenience and delight to guests and to help staff focus on improving guest experiences," Lee Richards, Millennium Hotels and Resorts' vice president of operations, tells CNN Travel.
The room service robot: Meet AURA, who works at the M Social Hotel in Singapore. She can fetch you towels and bottled water and knows how to operate an elevator.

First in Asia

The brainchild of robot-builders Savioke, AURA is designed to deliver room amenities to guests.
She's the first of her kind outside the United States, so her role at M Social marks a turning point in the Southeast Asian hospitality industry.
"Savioke [...] is committed to measurably improve the lives of people by creating and deploying friendly service robots that work safely, securely and reliably in human environments," says Richards.
AURA is compact, stylish and skilled. She can operate an elevator, navigate her way to guests' doors and let them know when she has arrived outside.

Robot takeover?

Lee Richards and AURA, his room service robot.
AURA's deployment at M Social has been successful, but Richards is quick to stress that this doesn't mean the future will be hotels with all-robot staff.
"The heart of hospitality is really about people," he says. "We are not simply replacing people with robots or technology. Instead, we want to use technology to further enhance our services."
The idea is that if AURA is handling the task of taking room deliveries of bottled water and towels, the human staff can focus on other jobs.
"[We can] focus on providing personalized touches and surprises to delight guests who stay with us on special occasions or have special requests," Richards adds.
Nevertheless, more robots are in the works for Millennium hotels -- including AURA's brother, who has the ability to cook different types of eggs and should be in service by 2018.

Technology and hospitality

AURA is M Social's first robot, but more are on the way.
Richards says these advancements are integral to the future of the hotel industry -- technology and hospitality go hand in hand.
"Innovation is extremely important for sustainable growth in any industry," he says. "Especially in the hospitality industry where we often face the challenges of labor shortage, technology can assist the team in delivering the best for our guests, efficiently and effectively."
As millennials become a key business travel demographic, their drive for unusual experiences will continue to influence brand decisions.
"There is definitely a huge role that technology could play in the hospitality industry to create fresh and memorable experiences to meet the expectations and demands of modern travelers," says Richards.
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