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Reblogged:Innovation in the Hospitality Industry

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If you haven't already read Marc Andreesen's celebration of the role of technology in sparing us from the twin ravages of a pandemic and bad government, it is worth a read. Andreesen doesn't attempt to distinguish poor pandemic responses from the bad consequences a pandemic would have caused anyway. But he is right to point out the many ways technological innovation shortened the durations of many of these hardships or blunted their effects. (Fellow fans of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged will note that insofar as we were saved from bad policy, it will be more challenging to argue against it in part for that very reason.)

I came across Andreesen's essay after first reading an exploration of the many creative ways hotels found to reassure their guests and find new markets during that very tough time. Among many such examples, we have one that I hope continues well after the pandemic is off our minds:
Image by Francesca Saraco, via Unsplash, license.
Open the door at the Sonesta San Jose to see a three-foot-tall robot wearing a bow-tie sticker. Under its lid: a preordered meal or slippers, delivered within 10 minutes of ordering. Steve Cousins, founder and CEO of Savioke, which makes the "Relay" bots, says they're not meant to replace staff but rather to help make late-night deliveries or during rush hours.

"The robots are doing three times as many deliveries as they did before the pandemic," said Cousins. "Guests who have experienced robot delivery usually ask for it the next time they need something. It is fast, it doesn't seem to inconvenience the staff, and they do not have to tip it." [links in original]
That said, the article also remarks on the demise of the breakfast buffet, something I miss enough to hope for a revival.

For the most part, though, I can see many of the changes having legs, because they cut costs or increase market size. Notably, some hotels will be devoting entire floors to local business customers in "work from hotel" arrangements that remind me strongly of some of Cal Newport's advice for people for whom working from home has ended up meaning hitting a wall.

-- CAV

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