Travel Convention 2016: ‘Robot revolution’ on way finds Travelzoo research

More than half of Abta Travel Convention delegates (54%) believe robots will be commonplace by the end of the decade.

Only 6% thought robotics to be a gimmick in a live poll taken at the end of a session on the ‘robot revolution’.

The response came after Travelzoo released the findings of research among 6,000 travellers worldwide which showed that 77% expect robots to be playing a part in their lives in five years time with 73% thinking robots will make it better.

China was seen to be the most receptive country to robots and Germany the least so with the UK in between.

Within travel robots are most likely to appear as hotel porters, providing room service or running information desks.

However, Travelzoo Europe president Richard Singer quoted academic data suggesting that half of UK jobs could be lost to creative robots in 20 years and 11% by 2021 – mostly repetitive manufacturing tasks – while robots are seen as adding value within the travel sector.

Singer cited the use of robots by KLM at Amsterdam Schiphol airport, by Costa Cruises and Royal Caribbean International’s robotic bar tenders.

Roger Langhout, general manager of the Ghent Marriott hotel, introduced a robot called Mario which is used on reception at the property.

However, he stressed that Mario had to be programmed what to do by humans, adding an “extra dimension” to the guest experience.

Dr Tom Chatfield, a visiting associate at the Oxford Internet Institute, suggested that robots could only become a danger to society if humans cut themselves out of the loop, adding: “We only have ourselves to fear.”

He called for a code of ethics to be created around artificial intelligence.

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