Robots, Artificial Intelligence, and Service Automation in Travel, Tourism and Hospitality

Cover of Robots, Artificial Intelligence, and Service Automation in Travel, Tourism and Hospitality


Table of contents

(16 chapters)

Section 1: Theoretical Issues of Robots, Artificial Intelligence, and Service Automation in Travel, Tourism, and Hospitality


Purpose: The purpose of this chapter is to elaborate on the major conceptual and practical considerations of the use of robots, artificial intelligence and service automation (RAISA) in travel, tourism, and hospitality companies (TTH).

Design/methodology/approach: The chapter develops a conceptual framework of the major issues related to the use of RAISA in the travel, tourism and hospitality context.

Findings: The findings indicate that while there is a creeping incursion of RAISA into TTH, there are major concerns that the TTH industry has to consider in regard to automating TTH services.

Practical implications: In a practical sense, the chapter identifies the decisions that TTH industry professionals need to take when dealing with RAISA technologies. Furthermore, the chapter elaborates on the impacts RAISA have on business operations, marketing management, human resources and financial management of TTH companies. The TTH industry has to adjust its practices and communicate with its workforce in ways as not to increase Luddite tendencies and resistance among employees.

Social implications: The analysis shows that there is an upcoming era in which automation of services will be so advanced that wealthy countries may not need to import labour to make up with its own aging workforce, suggesting that RAISA and its further development has the potential for disrupting society and international relations.

Originality/value: This chapter provides a comprehensive review of the issues related to the use of RAISA in the TTH industry, including the drivers of RAISA adoption in tourism, advantages and disadvantages of RAISA technologies compared to human employees, decisions that managers need to take, and the impacts of RAISA on business processes. It shows how macroenvironmental pressures shape the microeconomic decisions to use RAISA in a TTH context.


Purpose: The purpose is to introduce the fundamental economic concepts that must be wrestled with the incorporation of robots, artificial intelligence and service automation (RAISA) into the travel, tourism and hospitality industries.

Design/methodology/approach: This chapter uses cost-benefit analytical framework of the incorporation of RAISA technologies into travel, tourism and hospitality industries.

Findings: The chapter elaborates on the economic fundamentals of RAISA adoption into the travel, tourism and hospitality industries. The analysis reveals that many financial and non-financial costs and benefits need to be considered when taking a decision to use RAISA technologies. Automation of tasks leads to simultaneous substitution and enhancement of human employees. Introduction of RAISA technologies results on inevitable deskilling of some and upskilling of other tourism and hospitality jobs.

Research limitations/implications: The chapter is conceptual and conclusions are limited by the views and interpretations of the authors.

Practical implications: RAISA technologies will become increasingly omnipresent in the travel, tourism and hospitality industries. That is why an understanding of the costs and benefits and many of the practical impediments to the incursion of RAISA into the workplace should be understood to make a transition from human-performed tasks to technology-performed tasks.

Social implications: Replacement of human labour will have significant social implications for the workforce and employers.

Originality/value: This is one of the few publications that discuss the economic aspects of the incorporation of RAISA technologies into travel, tourism and hospitality industries.


Purpose: The development of service automation continues to underpin the travel, tourism and hospitality sectors providing benefits for both customers and service companies. The purpose of this chapter is to showcase the practice of self-service technology (SST) usage in the contemporary tourism and hospitality sectors and present a conceptual framework of customer SST adoption.

Design/Methodology/Approach: This chapter offers an examination of theory, research and practice in relation to SST usage in tourism, highlighting the benefits and drawbacks arising for both customers and service providers. Since the benefits are achieved only if SSTs gain effective adoption with customers, this chapter focuses on concepts underpinning the study of customer SST adoption. Drawing on SST adoption factors and SST customer roles, a conceptual framework of SST adoption is discussed.

Findings/Practical Implications: This chapter examines the principles and practice underpinning the usage of self-service technologies in the travel, tourism and hospitality sectors, with specific reference to customer SST roles in co-creation. The customer SST roles provide a more detailed and nuanced picture of the customer perspective on SST usage. These nuanced roles are captured in a conceptual framework which seeks to further refine the understanding of customer SST adoption.

Research Implications & Originality/Value: The framework provides a useful foundation for further research with a focus on customer empowerment in SSTs. The future development of service automation will require a balance between the delivery of a personalised and smarter customer experience and technology applications that are unobtrusive and which do not pose any ethical or privacy concerns.


Purpose: The goal of the chapter is to define customer attitudes towards robots in travel, tourism and hospitality (TTH) and to analyse their most significant characteristics.

Design/methodology/approach: The book chapter develops a conceptual framework of attitudes towards robots in travel, tourism and hospitality, based on critical analysis of relevant publications.

Findings: The chapter provides a definition and discussion of the characteristics of customer attitudes towards robots in TTH. It elaborates the structural elements of attitudes towards robots, and the links and interactions between the elements.

Research limitations: Research limitations stem from the small number of studies on customer attitudes towards robots in TTH.

Practical implications: The theoretical analysis can be used as a starting point for empirical studies of customer attitudes towards robots in travel, tourism and hospitality.

Social implication: Combined services, based on human employee-service robot collaboration, are the optimal decision for forming favourable customer attitudes towards robotisation and automation in tourism and hospitality. In that way clients’ needs of high technological convenience, interpersonal communication and socialisation are met simultaneously.

Originality/value: This research is among the few publications that study customer attitudes towards robots in travel, tourism and hospitality. The authors develop a matrix of users’ attitudes and behaviours when using robots in travel, tourism and hospitality.


Purpose: The research investigates the presence of technology ideologies in consumer discourse on tourism and hospitality robots.

Design/methodology/approach: Using a netnographic approach, the research involved immersion in online discourses and collection of consumer posts from a variety of social media platforms. Data was subjected to a thematic analysis informed by the technology ideology framework described in the literature review.

Findings: Online consumer narratives about tourism and hospitality robots are dynamic and varied and reveal a multitude of technology ideology-related positions. The research confirms the applicability of the technology ideology framework to online discourses on service robots and finds that anthropomorphism triggers additional concerns.

Research implications: The findings suggest that future research on the acceptance and use of service robots should go beyond psychological concepts.

Practical implications: Without uncovering and understanding technology sensemaking processes with respect to service robots, the introduction of service robots in hospitality and tourism might trigger consumer resistance or lead to inferior service experiences.

Social implications: The research suggests that sensemaking of technology, specifically service robots, is complex and colored by pertinent ideologies. Policies and regulations regarding service robot adoption and implementation should consider these various positions.

Originality/value: The paper introduces technology sensemaking and technology ideology as important theoretical frameworks to understand consumer perceptions, attitudes, uses and relationships in regard to service robots in hospitality and tourism contexts.


Purpose: The information-intensive nature of the tourism and hospitality industry requires regular communication between firms and customers. Yet, customer service personnel’s high contact levels with customers often lead to customer dissatisfaction arising from embarrassment in emotion-inducing service encounters. Accordingly, such companies have been seeking a cost-effective means of maintaining consistency in customer contact. Thus, it seems that the future of chatbots is here.

Design/methodology/approach: This chapter examines chatbots in two ways: the technical composition and its adoption by tourism firms. The technical perspective is represented by a diagram which espouses the functioning of chatbots from inputs query to output reply. On its adoption by tourism firms, two main organizational theories were proposed.

Findings: While chatbots are diffusing rapidly in other areas, their use in the tourism and hospitality industry remains low. We have examined the role of chatbots in various areas of the tourism and hospitality industry and highlighted the barriers to their successful adoption. By applying a conceptual and theoretical approach, our study used a hybrid of institutional theory and organizational learning theory and diagrammatically espouses how the integration of these theories can aid subsequent studies to understand the environmental and organization-specific factors influencing chatbots adoption.

Research limitations/implications: This study is conceptual, consequently, we recommend future studies to empirical test and validate our proposed conceptual framework.

Originality/value: This study is one of the earliest studies that advances firm-level adoption of chatbots by integrating two key organizational theories.


Purpose: The purpose of this chapter is to critically evaluate the implementation of technologies from the perspective of guest services, innovation and visitor experiences. The paper focuses on the value of robots, service automation and artificial intelligence in hospitality and examines their influence on service quality

Design/methodology/approach: The chapter is a critical and conceptual overview of the emergence and implementation of robots, service automation and artificial intelligence in the hospitality with an emphasis on service, service quality and guest experience. A comprehensive overview of the academic literature of customer service and guest experience is combined with industry examples from various service operations in hospitality in order to examine the implementation of RAISA in the hospitality industry from a range of academic and practical viewpoints.

Findings: The chapter argues that despite the global acceptance of technologies in service industries in general and hospitality in particular, it remains difficult to find the right balance between digital and human interactions. In the context of service quality, the implementation of robots and service automation is increasingly important for gaining a competitive advantage, but the provision of more personalized guest experiences remains controversial.

Originality/value: The study provides a comprehensive and systematic review of RAISA in a hospitality context and examine their impacts on service quality. The chapter is a critical examination of the potential of RAISA to transform the service experience and raises some fundamental questions regarding the need for RAISA, its practical implications and impact over the understanding and measurement of service quality.


Purpose: This chapter describes the design and implementation, at the computer hardware and software level, of the Greggg robot. Greggg is a scalable high performance, low cost hospitality robot constructed from off-the-shelf parts. Greggg has a robust architecture and acts as a tour guide on-campus, both indoors or outdoors. This research allows one to build a customized robot at a low cost, under U.S. $2,000, for accomplishing the desired hospitality tasks, and scale, and expand the capability of the robot as required.

Practical Implications: The practical implication of the research is the capability to build and program a robot for hospitality tasks. Greggg is a customizable robot capable of giving on-campus tours both indoors and outdoors. In its current architecture, Greggg can be trained to be a museum docent and give directions to visitors on-campus or at an airport and scaled up for other hospitality tasks using off-the-shelf components. Enhancing the robot by scaling it up and expanding it, in addition to testing it with a range of increasingly more difficult tasks using machine learning algorithms, is highly beneficial to advancing research on the use of robots in the hospitality sector. Greggg can also be used for Robot-as-a-service (Rass) applications.

Societal Implications: The economic implication of Greggg is the ease and low cost with which one, with minimal technology know-how, can construct an autonomous hospitality industry robot. This chapter details the hardware and software needed to build a low cost scalable and customizable autonomous robot for the hospitality industry without having to pay an exorbitant price.

Research/Limitations/Implications: This research allows one to build their own customized hospitality robot under U.S. $2,000. Given the cost of building the robot, it has limitations on the hospitality tasks it can perform. It can navigate on flat surfaces, has limited vision and speech processing capabilities and has a battery life not exceeding an hour. Furthermore, it does not have any robotic manipulators or tactile processing capabilities.

Section 2: Application of Robots, Artificial Intelligence, and Service Automation in Travel, Tourism, and Hospitality


Purpose: This paper presents a review of the current state and potential capabilities for application of robots, artificial intelligence and automated services (RAISA) in hotel companies.

Design/methodology/approach: A two-step approach was applied in this study. First, the authors make a theoretical overview of the robots, artificial intelligence and service automation (RAISA) in hotels. Second, the authors make a detailed overview of various case studies from global hotel practice.

Findings: The application of RAISA in hotel companies is examined in connection with the impact that technology has on guest experience during each of the five stages of the guest cycle: pre-arrival, arrival, stay, departure, assessment.

Research implications: Its implications can be searched with respect to future research. It deals with topics such as how different generations (guests and employees) perceive RAISA in the hotel industry and what is the attitude of guests in different categories of hotels (luxury and economy) towards the use of RAISA. It also shows what is the attitude of different types of tourists (holiday, business, health, cultural, etc.) and what kinds of robots (androids or machines) are more appropriate for different types of hotel operations.

Practical implications: The implications are related to the improvement of operations and operational management, marketing and sales, enhancement of customer experience and service innovation, training and management.

Originality/value: This book chapter complements and expands research on the role of RAISA in the hotel industry and makes some projections about the use of technologies in the future.


Purpose: The purpose of this chapter is to review and critically evaluate robots, artificial intelligence and service automation (RAISA) applications in the restaurant industry to educate professors, graduate students, and industry professionals.

Design/methodology/approach: This chapter is a survey of applications of RAISA in restaurants. The chapter is based on the review of professional and peer-reviewed academic literature, and the industry insight section was prepared based on a 50-minute interview with Mr. Juan Higueros, Chief Operations Officer of Bear Robotics.

Findings: Various case studies presented in this chapter illustrate numerous possibilities for automation: from automating a specific function to complete automation of the front of the house (e.g., Eatsa) or back of the house (e.g., Spyce robotic kitchen). The restaurant industry has already adopted chatbots; voice-activated and biometric technologies; robots as hosts, food runners, chefs, and bartenders; tableside ordering; conveyors; and robotic food delivery.

Practical implications: The chapter presents professors and students with a detailed overview of RAISA in the restaurant industry that will be useful for educational and research purposes. Restaurant owners and managers may also benefit from reading this chapter as they will learn about the current state of technology and opportunities for RAISA implementation.

Originality/value: To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this chapter presents the first systematic and in-depth review of RAISA technologies in the restaurant industry.


Purpose: The purpose of this chapter is to explore the current usage of robots, artificial intelligence and service automation in travel agencies (TA) and tourist information centres (TIC), and to provide insights about the future deployment of those technologies in the operations of travel agencies and tourist information centres

Design/methodology/approach: The chapter makes a review of travel agencies’ operations in the context of tourist consumer behaviour and then explores the current technologies utilized by TAs and TICs. There are forecasts about the future development of technologies in the TAs, discussing emerging issues and challenges, and final implications with concluding thoughts.

Findings: TA and TIC have incorporated a lot of automated technologies in their operations by numerous software applications; AI is still to proliferate and further excel, and the whole customer interaction tends to take place almost entirely in the digital space.

Research implications: TAs will continue to develop B2C or B2B software to increase their distribution efficiency and footprint through powerful computing capabilities, user-friendly systems, transparency, low fault rate, ease of search and real-time confirmation; virtual and augmented realities will become a standard. Back office tedious tasks and processes will be eliminated by the right software, which will further reduce the paper flow, increase cost-effectiveness and leverage the human involvement in the ordinary procedures of filing, reporting, administering, and analysing data

Social implications: The advance of technologies has certainly empowered the end customers, making them not only informed, but also more engaged. Consequently, the future technological development in TAs operation will focus on higher personalization, but at the expense of higher standardization of technologies.

Originality/value: TAs have certainly embraced technology integration as the only pathway to remain competitive and viable. The future development of RAISA in TAs seem to progress to full automation and AI integration where appropriate. The most challenging obstacles connected with technology introduction in TAs seem to be legal regulations, personal data protection, security issues and technical compatibility, but also moral issues like ethics and cultural understanding.


Purpose: In the experience economy, the main challenge for museums is not only to attract visitors but also to preserve artworks. Given this circumstance, this chapter aims to offer an overview of how these cultural organisations have emerged as labs of the future culture, where all kind of technological experiments are tested so as to fulfil their mission.

Design/methodology/approach: This chapter is based on extensive literature review on issues related to robots, artificial intelligence and service automation (RAISA) in the museum sector. Examples illustrate the role of technology in the experience design and preservation of cultural resources.

Findings: 1) A chronological framework of museums’ orientations is established to understand the evolution toward the technology-driven present period. 2) Robots, artificial intelligence and service automation have a meaningful contribution to make in guaranteeing visitor arrivals. 3) This technological phase requires a tourism workforce with new skills.

Research limitations/implications: Few academic studies concerning to the use of robots, artificial intelligence and service automation in the museum sector were found. Hence, more empirical studies are required to completely corroborate the chapter’s suggestions.

Practical implications: An enlightening path for the service design of multisensory and participatory is proposed, as a useful guide for heritage managers, marketing practitioners and tourism planners.

Originality/value: Museum management has been always receiving the attention of managers, policymakers, scholars, among others. Insights of how technology enhances heritage preservation and the improvement of museum services throughout numerous examples can direct them to increase knowledge and adopt these practices.


Purpose: An examination of the uptake and application of Robotic, Artificial Intelligence and Service Automation (RAISA) technologies by the events industry.

Design/methodology/approach: Academic and practitioner literature review and analysis pertaining to the relevance of RAISA in events.

Findings: The events industry has tended to rely on automation in staging and event production and the application of RAISA in events has been limited but holds great potential for the future. Whereas, in the hospitality and tourism industries RAISA has been applied across a range of service functions. For example, in such industries, artificial intelligence, machine learning and service robotics technologies have become commonplace. Nonetheless, the same level of adoption of RAISA in events is less evident particularly in front-of-house operation, due largely to the incompatibility with the raison d'être of event attendance – the purposive congregation of people seeking an event experience.

Research limitations/implications: The findings are the views of the authors and are therefore reliant upon existing events management literature on RAISA and their interpretation of this information and its application to the events industry.

Practical implications: RAISA has the capacity to play a crucial technical function in the events industry. However, it needs to be acknowledged that an event is essentially an experiential product which is simultaneously delivered and consumed in a particular setting/venue. RAISA applications and techniques avail event management immense sustainability and growth potential.

Social implications: Events are expressions of human social interactions and activities. Given the recent trend in sports media consumption as a substitute for live event attendance compounded by barriers to event attendance such as heightened terrorism threat and high expense/cost, there is a real risk of degradation of the social significance of the events industry. The prudent uptake of RAISA has the potential to emolliate the barriers to attendance while facilitating effective marketing and industry sustainability.

Originality/value: This chapter provides a new perspective in focusing on the potential applicability of RAISA in event management practice.

Cover of Robots, Artificial Intelligence, and Service Automation in Travel, Tourism and Hospitality
Publication date