The perfect concierge is a genius, a magician and an artiste, as anyone knows who has ever stayed in one of the leading hotels around the globe. His or her job is to make sure guests are happy – possibly the most satisfying job there is.
Now, enter the robo-concierge. “Connie” is the world’s first robot concierge in the hospitality industry, and time will tell if he (despite the feminine-sounding name Connie is definitely masculine, having been named after Conrad Hilton, the founder of the worldwide hotel chain) can keep up with the best human concierges in the hospitality business. If not, it won’t be for lack of trying.
The first Watson-enabled robot concierge in the world, Connie draws on domain knowledge from IBM’s Watson supercomputer and WayBlazer, a cognitive service that uses natural-language information to answer difficult questions like, “I’d like to go to a four-star beach resort in January with my wife and two kids, and I’d like activities for two kids plus recommendations for good restaurants.”
Based on the NAO humanoid robot infrastructure created by SoftBank Robotics, Connie will work side-by-side with Hilton’s Team Members to assist with visitor requests, personalize the guest experience and empower travelers with more information to help them plan their trips.
Currently stationed near reception at the Hilton McLean in Virginia, Connie is learning to interact with guests and respond to their questions in a friendly and informative manner. Connie uses a combination of Watson APIs, including Dialog, Speech to Text, Text to Speech and Natural Language Classifier, to enable it to greet guests upon arrival and to answer questions about hotel amenities, services and hours of operation. By tapping into WayBlazer’s extensive travel domain knowledge powered by Watson, Connie can also suggest local attractions outside the hotel.
The more guests interact with Connie, the more it learns, adapts and improves its recommendations. The hotel will also have access to a log of the questions asked and Connie’s answers, which can enable improvements to guests’ experiences before, during and after their stays.
„This project with Hilton and WayBlazer represents an important shift in human-machine interaction, enabled by the embodiment of Watson’s cognitive computing,“ said Rob High, IBM fellow and vice president and chief technology officer of IBM Watson. „Watson helps Connie understand and respond naturally to the needs and interests of Hilton’s guests – which is an experience that’s particularly powerful in a hospitality setting, where it can lead to deeper engagement and happier guests.“