When Winnie the robot first started working at LAX’s Embassy Suites hotel she was more of a novelty than anything else.
“It was a way to get guests engaged,” said Embassy Suites VP of operations Michael D’amodio.
Back in 2016, one out of three guests would utilize her services, delivering towels, water or food, right to the room.
D’amodio said it allowed for quicker service and would give staff more time at the front desk.
But after the kids got a selfie with her, and the snacks were eaten, she’d fade into the background at her charging station downstairs, and guests would just forget she was there.
Everything changed after the coronavirus pandemic hit.
“We kind of knew, probably within the first week of COVID,” D’amodio said.
D’amodio and other executives suddenly realized that seven of their eight California lobbies had robots like Winnie already working — a built-in way to avoid human contact.
She doesn’t even touch the door — and she doesn’t need a tip.
She’s sanitized from top to bottom after each delivery, too.
D’amodio says hotel marketing used to be all about location and value. But that’s changed, as travelers take baby steps to get out of the house in the midst of a pandemic.
“One of the most important things that customers are telling us about, right now, is their safety,” D’amodio said.
Winnie’s now used by more than 60% of the guests.
She can’t clean your room, carry your luggage, or take your reservation. But she can give you more than just fresh towels. She offers a little peace of mind.