Hey, technology, bring it on! Bring all of it on if it helps streamline operations and cuts the time that I need to spend on the mundane hotel things like check in and check out. That’s cool. But please, please, please do not cut off all humanoid contact with me, your guest, and leave me at the mercy of the robots.
I know you want to save on employees, eliminate as many positions as possible to lower your payroll. Your shareholders expect as much, and you need to keep them happy.
But please don’t forget me, your customer. I want a nice, warm, fuzzy, human feeling when I stay at your hotel.
Do I want to be greeted by a Doormanbot at the entrance? No, not really.
How about that perfect Blondbot receptionist checking me in? Again, nope. Even if she or it can answer questions!
What about the Bellboybot who rolls my bags to my room? Well, maybe. At least I do not have to tip it, but miss the corridor chats on the way!
The glorious Conciergbot can do it all. Answer your questions, check for reservations, offer you a choice of table at the restaurant, and book and print event tickets. But nope, I don’t want him/her/it either!
I want a nice, warm chat with a human being. I want personal recommendations, not some statistic harvested on line in actual time by the whirring, clicking thing in front of me with the permanent, sick smile. I want to take a sledgehammer to the damn thing but hold back. Perhaps there is a human brain in there somewhere! Have they gotten that far yet? Robocop style?
I hold off on the conversation with the bellboy-cartbot as we go to my room which it opens remotely, rolls in and places my bag on the rack. “Thank you Sir,” it says in a tinny voice as it rolls out of the room after waiting for me to step aside.
The door hardly closes and the Roombabot makes a beeline for me, leaving its’ base camp and glides forward. I grab the remote and press all buttons, looking frantically for the right button to silence the thing. It stops and makes its way back to base looking like it is in deep sulk mode. I guess that Roombabots save room cleaning allocated time and keep the rooms vacuumed permanently. But I wonder why Roombabot came out at me like she did….was it badly programmed, or maybe a timing glitch? Or on purpose?
I pressed so many buttons that I now look around me and take stock of the sorry situation. The curtains are closed, the coffee machine is brewing coffee (not a bad thing really), the lights have gone into ‘romantic’ mode. The TV has turned on and a voice somewhere is asking where my audio unit is as I have not plugged it into auxiliary.
I swear out loud, and the round, spherical Googlebot informs me that the weather is nice and sunny outside. Who in hell asked her….sorry, it?
In the corner of my room a static concierge looking machine comes to life. Noting automatically that I am awake and moving about the room, it suggests numerous activities for my wellbeing and then goes on to inform me of all my dining possibilities, complementing that with a color printout.
I venture a peek at my bed. Horror. It no longer resembles a bed; both sides are in the ‘sitting up and reading’ position. What damn button did I press to get that done?
Feeling like a genius, I override my button remote stick by direct command buttons on the actual bed. Feels like a pyrrhic victory.
Then a knock on the door. The Bellboybot is there again.
“What do you want?” I raise my voice now, and the thing looks distressed.
“I notice that you have arranged your bed for the night Sir. Are your pillows the right softness for a great night’s sleep at our wonderful establishment?”
I slam the door on it and then I hear it, the noise. I wheel around towards the bathroom, panicked.
The bathtub is filling up with warm water. Actually, not a bad idea to take a bath I thought, calming even. But who asked me if I wanted one in the first place?
I must have spoken out loud because the next thing you know Google girl announced, “You did Sir, you requested a bath be drawn on the remote.”
“Oh my God,” I said, “Where will this end?”
“When you complete your check out process Sir.” answered Googlebot.
She must have been programmed to read minds too, because as I approached the wondrous orb to slam my fist down in a search and total destroy angle, she added brightly, “And I cost $89 to replace Sir.”
That stopped me dead in my tracks. I mean, WOW. That definitely put the wow back in my stay.
1984 definitely here. Big brother hotel management is watching my every move. Are they already tallying the damage and adding it to my bill?
I sat down on the end of the bed, despondent and defeated.
What if I dared to complain? What if I gave a less than glamorous botrating after I left? Was I already a dead man walking? Was there an iTerminator robot prowling the corridors waiting for the kill command on me? Could someone hack into one of these and turn it into a Murdererbot?
Deep in thought I hardly noticed the knock on the door. I approached it warily and looked at the peephole screen.
OMG! A humanoid in a suit was standing there, or was it a human. Can’t tell these days.
I open the door a crack and he/it introduced himself.
“Mr. Jones, General Manager at your service.”
I gave him an almighty pinch and he screamed and jumped back in fright holding his injured side.
“Why on earth did you do that?” he asked.
“Wanted to make sure you’re human is all. Why are YOU here? ” I answered meekly.
“No other humanoids on duty Sir, so it fell to me. Imagine, the GM is serving you! They don’t yet produce GMbots. Just came to point out the file with instructions for all the robotics in your room. You obviously have not found them. I mean, take a look at this mess!”
He went over to the side stand number pad and pressed a few numbers. The panel opened and an iPad came sliding out. All the robotic services were listed on the screen.
“How was I supposed to know that was there?” I asked sarcastically.
“Well,” he answered snootily, “if you had read the instructions posted on the back of the door, we wouldn’t be in this mess, now would we?”
I must honestly admit that at that point I lost it. Completely. I became an enraged animal. I vented my anger as only I know how. Can’t rightly remember, but I might have even thrown a punch or two in his direction.
Out of nowhere two iSecuritybots appeared. One produced a sleek, modern looking straight jacket, Kevlar perhaps, which they proceeded to put on me. I was escorted to my car, the Bellboybot looked happy as it threw my bag in after me. That was the end of my stay.
I weakly gave my car the command to drive me home.
Needless to say I gave the hotel a huge, super glowing recommendation on all social media that I could find.
I then proceeded to have a steel door installed to my home.