Hotel EMC2 opens with robots, Alexa and other tech amenities

Hotel EMC2 features everything from in-room acoustic amplifiers to functional robots and live-streaming monitors in the kitchen of the hotel’s restaurant.

Robots are becoming common helpers in hospitality, showing up in hotels around the world. From Japan’s all-robot hotel to Hilton’s robot concierge, Connie, to Aloft Hotels' delivery robots, robots that serve hotel staff and guests are a growing trend. Now another hotel in downtown Chicago is partaking in the tech trend.

Hotel EMC2, an Autograph Collection hotel, the brainchild of local real estate developer Scott Greenberg, president and CEO of SMASHotels, is providing guests with a one-of-a-kind experience in Chicago’s Streeterville neighborhood. The property has unveiled a series of tech-centric elements, featuring everything from in-room acoustic amplifiers to functional robots and live-streaming monitors in the kitchen of the hotel’s restaurant.

“I wanted to tackle the challenge of elevating the more menial aspects of a typical guest experience by creating more interactive elements that spark curiosity,” Greenberg said in a statement. “This cutting-edge technology amplified throughout the property exemplifies our passion for creativity and education, and further illustrates the art and science intersection philosophy.”
 
Tech amenity highlights include:
 
Featuring the latest in technology from Savioke, Hotel EMC2 has introduced two 3-foot tall Relay robots to help with day-to-day hotel operations. Cleo and Leo can independently roam the property via the destination elevators to deliver guests everything from towels and toothbrushes to personalized cards.
 
Each guestroom in the hotel is equipped with Amazon Alexa, a voice-activated device programed by Volara to answer specific questions and relay tailored information related to the hotel. Guests can also use Alexa to request specific amenities from Cleo and Leo.
 
To create tailored experiences for guests before they even walk through the front door, Hotel EMC2 is using Zingle, a messaging platform that enables the front office to customize text messages before arrival. The software will also be used by the hotel staff to communicate with groups, promote special offerings, and share meeting locations and itineraries.
 
Designed by Rockwell Group, acoustic amplifiers embellish each guest room with the ability to magnify music volume from a smartphone or small media player. The amplifiers are another example of how art and science are connected and showcased throughout the hotel.
 
Situated on each floor of the hotel, “The Study” captivates guests with a vast series of live animated drawings illustrated on high-end monitors. Created by local artist and self-proclaimed Spontoonist, Jonathan Plotkin, the drawings can be customized by guests for special events or specific groups.

When the Aloft Dallas Love Field officially opened in March, it opened with its own robot delivery service for guests. HOTEL MANAGEMENT first reported on Relay the robot in 2015, but now the bot can be found deployed in a number of hotel properties throughout the world, including the Aloft Miami Doral and Aloft Cupertino (Calif.).

When in action at the Alofts, the Relay robot provides low-level deliveries to guestrooms.

"We think roomservice in such a high-tech fashion is interesting, and we want all of our guests to be able to experience it if they choose," said Perry Molubhoy, CEO of Atlantic Hotels Group, the management company behind the Aloft Dallas. "We feel like it's the right fit for our guests' age group and demographic. And guests are amazed, it's a novelty and a niche necessity at the same time."

Hilton’s offering, which was piloted at the Hilton McLean in Virginia, takes robots in a different direction. Hilton's hospitality machine stayed behind the concierge desk. Named "Connie" in a nod to Hilton founder Conrad Hilton, Yahoo Tech reported that the miniature robot will greet guests and answer questions about the hotel, local attractions and recommend dining options.