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Hotel Group puts Africa on the Global stage in terms of hospitality technology and trends
16 February 2021

With the vision of veteran hotelier Paul Kelley, Hotel Sky aims to offer a hotel experience like no other, incorporating the best available technology to support each hotel’s staff, and ensure a unique and enjoyable stay for all guests.


We had a vision to become a hotel that put South Africa’s hospitality industry on par with global trends and demands. The technology being implemented is in-line with global hospitality trends and best practice, with a core focus on utilising technological solutions to streamline operations and deliver a more efficient experience for employees and guests alike.
 
The hotels, based in Johannesburg and Cape Town, utilise leading edge technology to support the hotel staff as they service guests. This technology includes app-based check-in and room access, a self-playing grand piano, and most excitingly, AI-powered robots who will assist with guest relations, room service delivery, and luggage.
 
App-based check-in and room access is particularly important with the advent of COVID-19 in adhering with health protocols. During this COVID-19 period, it adds additional protection to the guests when they using their own device no need to touch a card given by another person.


The app not only offers room access, but guests are able to order food via the app, make reservations, make calls to other rooms in the hotel or to reception. The benefit and great thing about the mobile it allows the tech savvy guests to feel good and in control that their mobile phone can now open their room door.
 
The 3 AI-powered robots are an enticing and functional drawcard. People have heard of them but now we actually have them in Hotel Sky doing room service and answering questions about the hotel itself, nearby attractions as well as some general knowledge. Their names are Micah, Lexi, and Ariel and each robot comes with its own style. The robots are not there to replace anyone and merely supplement the guest experience.


The robotics hardware that is used in the hotel was supplied by a company based overseas, but the technology operating the robots has been developed by a South African business called CTRL Robotics. The CTRL Robotics platform serves as the robots’ cloud-based brain, and all requests and information are stored on the cloud planner and relayed down to each robot as required. This cloud platform has been developed in such a way that it enables multiple robots to work together in fleets, or independently, to assist the hotel with increasing guest engagement and efficiencies.
 
One of the elements that the robots assist with is room service delivery, supplementing and assisting the Hotel Sky staff with this function while also enhancing guests' experience. While the robots don’t impact jobs or replace humans, the option of robotic room service delivery is an important factor in minimising human contact in the hotel given the current concerns around COVID-19. Looking further, the robots themselves are creating job opportunities within the hotel as we work towards employing hotel staff that will fulfil robot fleet manager roles. 
 
A guest using the Hotel Sky mobile app will be able to order room service from any of the food outlets within Hotel Sky and the hotel staff will be able to deliver the food using the robots. During this process, the robot will be in communication with guest via live messaging at all times and updating the guest of its progress until its standing outside the guests room door where it will send a message to the guest saying its arrived and the guest may come collect their food.
 
Hotel Sky opened in at 150 West Street in Sandton in November 2020 and will be opening at Convention Square near the V&A Waterfront in April 2021.
 


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