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Hilton and IBM pilot “Connie,” The world’s first Watson-enabled hotel concierge robot

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Travel can be stressful and requires countless decisions. Increasingly travelers are expecting relevant guidance during their journeys, and the hospitality industry is beginning to pilot technology that can help address these needs at each step of the way.

Today Hilton Worldwide and IBM announced a collaboration to pilot “Connie” – the first Watson-enabled robot concierge in the hospitality industry. Connie draws on domain knowledge from Watson and WayBlazer to inform guests on local tourist attractions, dining recommendations and hotel features and amenities.

Imagine if you could bypass the line at the front desk and ask Connie about your checkout time, how to get to the gym or even the top sushi recommendations in the area? Using cognitive technology for hospitality not only builds the customer experience, but also expands the brand journey and enables staff to have more time to serve each guest.

Connie, named for Hilton’s founder Conrad Hilton, marks the first time IBM has developed a Watson-enabled robot for the hospitality market. Connie will work side-by-side with Hilton’s team members to assist with visitor requests, personalize the guest experience and empower travelers with more information to help them plan their trips. Connie learns from each guest interaction and continually builds his knowledge.

“We’re focused on reimagining the entire travel experience to make it smarter, easier and more enjoyable for guests,” said Jonathan Wilson, vice president, product innovation and brand services, Hilton Worldwide. “By tapping into innovative partners like IBM Watson, we’re wowing our guests in the most unpredictable ways.”

Connie the robot greeting guests

Connie, in pilot testing at the hotel, uses cognitive computing and machine learning to answer questions posed in natural language about the hotel, local tourist attractions and restaurants.

“This project with Hilton and WayBlazer represents an important shift in human-machine interaction, enabled by the embodiment of Watson’s cognitive computing,” said Rob High, IBM fellow and vice president and chief technology officer of IBM Watson. “Watson helps Connie understand and respond naturally to the needs and interests of Hilton’s guests — which is an experience that’s particularly powerful in a hospitality setting, where it can lead to deeper guest engagement.”

This is not the first time the Hilton has turned to technology and innovation to enhance its guest stays. Visitors can use digital check-in with Room Selection,
as well as partnerships with Uber to deliver ‘Local Scene’ and ‘Ride Reminders’ and with Tesla and Current, powered by GE, to rapidly expand the electric vehicle charging program.

“WayBlazer is excited to bring Watson’s cognitive computing capabilities directly to the traveler as a way to improve the in-destination experience,” said Felix Laboy, CEO of WayBlazer. “We believe providing personalized and relevant insights and recommendations, specifically through a new form factor such as a robot, can transform brand engagement and loyalty at the Hilton.”

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