Futuristic hotels for business travelers in China and Japan

Multilingual robots, AI dinosaurs, holographs, mood lighting and more are some of the features found in hotels in China and Japan.

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After a stay at a Henn Na or the FlyZoo hotels, your regular accommodation only seems usable. Here is a look at the Japanese Henn Na and the futuristic hotels FlyZoo in China.

The Japanese Henn Na Hoteru or Henn Na Hotels, owned by H.I.S., are known for their high-tech functions. In English, the name of the hotel roughly means “Strange” or “Weird” Hotel.

At the Henn Na near the Kansai Airport in Osaka, guests will find a hot springs facility and a submerged lobby. But the coolest? The reception is manned by robot dinosaurs.

“The dinosaurs are somewhat gimmicky,” admitted Jay Allen of the Unseen Japan website, but “Henn Na has used the concept to stimulate other technology and innovations that benefit travelers by offering a” futuristic “stay experience.”

Allen points out that Henn Na hotels have state-of-the-art equipment in rooms, including a steam cabinet (for steaming clothes and killing bacteria), a smartphone with local internet connection for roaming the city, and an AI-powered, in Remote control for guests, to call home, stream videos, control room lighting and serve as a TV remote control.

A new Henn Na Hotel in Tokyo Ginza was specially built for business travelers and guests are greeted by humanoid “female” robots at the reception. The
robot staff
not only greet guests, but also check them in their room. The robot speaks English, Chinese, Korean and Japanese and can smile, blink and move her arms.

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For the hotel located in Ginza, each room also has a 4K television, as can be seen in the promotional video of the hotel. Robots are assigned tasks such as cleaning the windows and floors, but people make the beds and ensure communication.

In August, a new Henn Na Hotel in Tokyo Tawaramachi opened a holographic staff, a holographic ninja, a dinosaur and an anime character in the Suginami City area.

A tablet-like device adjusts the lights, and not only dark to light, but offers a “mood preset” with choices such as “relax”, “focus”, “sunset”, “spring” and set the temperature and stream movies. Guests can also order an interactive menu.

“Japan is facing a rapidly aging and dwindling population and is constantly looking for technology to enable companies to do more, with fewer staff,” Allen said.

“Japan is facing a huge influx of tourists, including an anticipated rush for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics,” he added. “This means that staff need to speak several languages; not only English, but also Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese, Russian and other languages. This staff crisis, combined with an increasing need for support of foreign languages, may in some cases require more be met quickly and cheaply with AI and robotics. “

Language diversity is a problem in Japan and current dinosaur robot staff is limited to Japanese, English, Chinese, and Korean, but “is likely to change as AI technology evolves,” Allen said.

“One of the new gifts of the year in Japan is a robotic bear named Koupen-chan, which responds contextually to owner’s expressions and offers expressions of support and compassion. I see this technology evolve to the point where the robots are no longer a gimmick, as with Henn Na, but offer full interactive assistance in different spoken languages, “he said.

China’s FlyZoo, the futuristic hotel of Alibaba.

Image: Alibaba

China is at the forefront of automation, with unmanned stores and restaurants. The FlyZoo hotel with 291 rooms in China, owned by Alibaba (yes, the same popular e-commerce company), is keyless and cashless. It opened in Hangzhou at the end of 2018. Wheeled robots greet and serve guests. There is no reception, nor are there soft sofas or chairs in the hotel lobby.

Chinese go to one of the different kiosks to check in. Foreigners are approached by a staff member (in a uniform that is more reminiscent of that of a retro stewardess). They are called “ambassadors,” coined by Alibaba CEO Andy Wang. “Ambassadors” help guests and take their picture. Guests can choose the floor and the way their room is facing. Lifts work and hotel room doors open through face recognition.

In a CNBC profile, Wang said that photos of guests are only used for the duration of the guest’s stay and then disappear when checking out.

FlyZoo’s promotional video shows ‘Tmall Genie’, a voice-controlled, Alexa-like and medium-sized technical tool on the bedside tables in every room; guests can talk and order water, ice, room service, open the curtains, turn on the TV and dim the room lighting. Robot butlers, made by Alibaba, deliver most deliveries, with the exception of soups, irons and ironing boards.

In the hotel café, each table has its own QR code to scan for the app. The bar works in the same way, tables with individual QR codes, but with the latter you are served by a fast-moving robot bartender.

Cold distribution refrigerators for food and drinks (consider them super cool, tech, vending machines) are locked, but open with an app on a smartphone. Once you have chosen your item, the app will know exactly what you have collected and the costs will be charged through your app.

The floor of the fitness center is like a huge computer screen and images provide coaching for you. There is a Dance Dance Revolution-like exercise, and instead of standing on a path, the floor indicates which movements should be made.

The hotel has human service staff (who can access your room via the “old-school” key card). Alibaba has an association with Marriott (which also includes the Ritz -Carlton and the W Hotels), but Marriott’s in China are only in the “consideration” phase regarding the elimination of front desk personnel.

According to a press release, the hotel was developed by the company’s online travel platform, Fliggy, Alibaba, AI Labs and Alibaba Cloud technology with the aim of “using advanced technology to help transform the hospitality industry, a sector that keeps the industry up to date with the digital age in which we live. ”

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The Henn Na Hotel in Japan has a reception that is partly staffed by robot dinosaurs.

Image: Henn Na Hotel

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