SINGAPORE (Apr 6): CDL Hospitality Trusts (CDL HT) is embracing automation amid a general lull in its local operations. The profitability of its Singapore hotels has been on a downtrend for the last five years, in line with the broader sector.

With the rise of sharing economy players such as Airbnb, which is now targeting business travellers and introducing features meant to entice human resource and travel managers, the pressure on hoteliers is on.

In a bid to deal with one of the biggest challenges the industry faces – the lack of manpower – robots have been deployed in both back-office and customer-facing functions.

Take M Social Singapore for example, who recently welcomed AURA: An autonomous robot that brings bottles of water and towels to guests in their rooms, freeing its human colleagues for other roles. 

The managers of CDLHT estimate these robots can potentially save 3,000 to 4,000 man-hours annually, which works out to about 1.5 persons’ worth of working hours, or even more, given they can work round-the-clock.

M Social’s owner is London-listed Millennium & Copthorne Hotels, the sponsor of CDLHT, whose managers plan to deploy AURA at the trusts’ other hotels – Grand Copthorne Waterfront, M Hotel and Orchard Hotel – later this year.

With the entry of sharing economy players such as Airbnb, which is now targeting business travellers and introducing features meant to entice human resource and travel managers, the pressure on hoteliers is on.

Are these robots set to be permanent fixtures in hotels? Or are they novelties that will wear out? How are such innovations changing the industry?

Far more important than adopting new technology is accepting that the industry needs to transform, shares Vincent Yeo, manager of CDLHT, in a recent interview.

Read the full story in this week’s issue of The Edge Singapore (Issue 825, Week of April 9), which is available at selected newsstands now.

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