Hotels Roll Out Smart Service Robots to Help with Staffing Shortage

Relay+®, an intelligent robot designed by Savioke for the hospitality industry, can deliver room service and essential items such as food, snacks, and towels to guests. By adding rapid install capabilities, Savioke aims to lower the cost of robot deployment for hotels and foodservice operations and supplement staff in the current labor shortage. 


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Image credit: Savioke Relay+

The global hospitality industry labor shortage from the pandemic is widespread, as hotels, restaurants, and food service operations are struggling to find qualified service workers. Estimates range as high as 1.4 million unfilled job openings in the restaurant and hotel sector compared to pre-pandemic levels, according to Associated Press reports. 

In response, Silicon Valley-based robot maker Savioke has rolled out Relay+®. The company designed this autonomous service robot for organizations needing delivery help, including hotels and office properties, foodservice operators, and hospitals and healthcare organizations.

For hotels, Savioke Relay+® aims to fill the workforce shortage by off-loading room service and housekeeping delivery tasks from staff, enabling them to focus fully on guest service and satisfaction. Using intelligent sensors, the robots are self-driving and can operate safely in crowded public environments, avoiding objects and people in lobbies and hallways as they complete their delivery tasks.The robot’s payload can include anything from towels, toiletries, room service, to-go snacks, coffee, or food delivered from a hotel’s Starbucks or in-house restaurant.

According to Savioke, the benefits of having the Relay+® robot include:

  • Supplements staff, enabling employees to focus on helping guests and customers;
  • Increases revenue by meeting the customer experience desire for personalized, instant delivery; 
  • Eliminates barriers to robot deployment; with rapid install capability, the staff can set up the robot and have it working in a few days;
  • Saves budget in staffing and operations with consistent 24x7x365 availability;
  • Provides contact-free delivery, which remains important with ongoing concerns over COVID-19.

Delivering on Revenue Goals

Savioke reports that the ROI on room service robots is high. It states that Relay® customers have seen room and deskside delivery service revenues doubling–and in some cases tripling– because of heightened demand and how easily Relay+® can deliver food and merchandise. 

Savioke is a proponent of the robots-as-a-service (RaaS) business model, and CEO and co-founder Steve Cousins is an advocate of the RaaS business model. With RaaS, hotel operators can purchase and deploy Relay and pay a basic monthly subscription fee, without the need to go through a complicated capital asset buying process.

“Relay+® is a game-changer in service automation", says Bill Booth, VP of sales and marketing at Savioke. “With its configurable payloads and quick-install capabilities, these robots can be integrated quickly into property operations and put to work, generating top and bottom line benefits to customers.”

Going Up: Elevator Skills

Relay+® has the capability to ride elevators completely autonomously, without the need for expensive elevator integration. Savioke states that the rapid install capabilities enable the robots to be operational–and generating revenue–for a hotel in a matter of days vs. months.

Relay+® can be manufactured with a choice of three payload configurations: a single, lockable bin for carrying packages, food delivery bags, and larger items; four individually addressable drawers for to-go food; or open shelves, configurable to a customer’s payload needs. 

Robot rolls down hotel hallway

Image credit: Savioke Robots/Wally at the Residence Inn by Marriott LAX

Of these configurations, the first two feature bins that are lockable and accessible by PIN code or badge scan, which maintains payload security and chain-of-custody. 

Savioke Relay robots are in approximately 100 hotels, including Dream Hollywood, the Radisson in Sunnyvale, CA, Aloft Silicon Valley, and the Residence Inn by Marriott LAX. The feedback to date has been positive. “Our Relay® service robot (Botlr) is not just a novelty.” says Jason Ransom, General Manager, Aloft Silicon Valley, Newark, CA. “He cuts room service time by up to 80 percent, makes it easier to do our jobs, and does not accept tips.”


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