Robots Take Over Room-Service in Some Hotels, No Tips Expected

Specialised robots are slowly taking over mundane tasks in the hospitality industry from the US to China.

2 min read
The Savioke Relay robot performs room-service functions in some US hotels.

Slowly, but surely robots are making an entry into everyday life. Recently, Sheroes founder Sairee Chahal, on a business trip to San Francisco, ordered room-service at a hotel and was pleasantly surprised when a robot showed up at her door with her cup of tea!

Meet the Savioke Relay, one of many robots that are being deployed across sectors from healthcare to hospitality, to help perform mundane functions. And these robots expect no tips. In fact, this particular hotel in San Francisco has only two human staff manning it, while all the running around is literally done by the Savioke Relay robots.

The Savioke Relay robots navigate the corridors of the hotel using Wi-Fi. They can pick up room-service orders from the kitchen or reception, call for the elevator (wirelessly), ride to the customer’s floor, wheel themselves up to the door, ring the doorbell (wirelessly) or call the customer and then have them pick up whatever items they’ve ordered from the bin.

The Savioke Relay robot at a hotel in San Francisco. 
The Savioke Relay robot at a hotel in San Francisco. 
Photo: Sairee Chahal

These robots can also have a short conversation of sorts with the customer (they do say thank you). Most other interactions are through the touch screen on the robot. And no, they don’t expect a tip. They navigate using sensors and can avoid obstacles and other humans in their path while wandering the hotels corridors.

Once it’s done with its task it automatically returns to its charging dock, until the next order is placed.


The Savioke robots have been around for nearly 2 years now. However, in China, at Alibaba group’s FlyZoo hotel, a fleet of metre-high service robots now glide through the corridors delivering towels or food orders to rooms.

The Flyzoo robot waiter serves food to a customer. 
The Flyzoo robot waiter serves food to a customer. 
Photo: Alibaba

Alibaba’s FlyZoo hotel takes automation to another level altogether. Guests can check-in using facial recognition. Even to ride the elevator, guests have to confirm their floor using facial recognition – making it quite a secure facility. Even to enter their rooms, guests don’t need keys, their faces are enough.

I’m just hoping my room door would still recognise me after an evening at the bar though! This tech is becoming increasingly common. While hotel staff are welcoming of it right now, it doesn’t bode well for the future of some jobs in the hospitality industry.

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