Hilton Worldwide (NYSE: HLT) and IBM (NYSE: IBM) today 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.
Visitors to the Hilton Hotel in McLean, Va. meet “Connie,” a robot concierge named after Conrad Hilton and powered by IBM Watson and WayBlazer. 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 — while learning with each interaction. (Photo: Business Wire)
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.
Currently stationed near reception at the Hilton McLean in Virginia, Connie is learning to interact with guests and respond to their questions in a friendly and informative manner. Connie uses a combination of Watson APIs, including Dialog, Speech to Text, Text to Speech and Natural Language Classifier, to enable it to greet guests upon arrival and to answer questions about hotel amenities, services and hours of operation. By tapping into WayBlazer’s extensive travel domain knowledge powered by Watson, Connie can also suggest local attractions outside the hotel.
The more guests interact with Connie, the more it learns, adapts and improves its recommendations. The hotel will also have access to a log of the questions asked and Connie’s answers, which can enable improvements to guests’ experiences before, during and after their stays.
Connie is powered by Watson, a cognitive computing technology platform that represents a new era in computing where systems understand the world in the way that humans do – through senses, learning and experience.
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
Connie is the latest example of Hilton’s long history of innovation to enhance guest stays, as far back as 1947 as the first hotel company to introduce televisions into guest rooms. Recent innovations include digital check-in with Room Selection, which recently surpassed 10 million users; Digital Key; and 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.