Travel agency H.I.S. is on its way to open at least two robot hotels in Japan this year, after some 80,000 guests passed through the doors of its debut property, Henn na Hotel, which opened in Nagasaki's Huis Ten Bosch theme park in July 2015.
Hideo Sawada, president of Huis Ten Bosch, aims to have 100 robot hotels within the next five years. This will be achieved through franchising and M&As, according to Kana Usami of H.I.S’s corporate planning department.
Hen na Hotel
The second hotel of the brand is scheduled to open in Maihama, Tokyo, on March 15, and a third in Nagoya in summer, followed by an overseas launch likely in an East Asian destination, according to H.I.S. spokesperson Koto Takebe.
Where the first robot hotel experimented with 186 multilingual receptionist and porter robots servicing 144 rooms, H.I.S. will introduce robots in only the reception area and rooms for the upcoming 100-key Maihama hotel, with the option to add more following customer feedback.
The company estimates what it considers to be a modest outlay of two to three billion yen (US$17.6-26.4 million) in robot investment per hotel.
Moreover, the model offers a possible solution to hospitality staff shortages and language barriers, and hopes to incorporate energy-efficient solutions.
Takebe said “the robot-staff and eco-technology have received high evaluations from guests” who are mostly Japanese at present, but interest from overseas continues to grow.
H.I.S plans to increase inbound guests by using its network of some 230 overseas stores to promote the hotels.