GlobalData predicts that the service robotics industry will reach US$216 billion in 2030, transforming the travel and tourism industry, but human staff will not be replaced. Jenny Southan reports

The service robotics industry is set to register a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 21.5 per cent to reach US$216 billion in 2030, driven by investments across consumer facing industries, including travel and tourism, says data and analytics company GlobalData.

The overall robotics industry is set to grow from US$70 billion in 2022 to US$568 billion in 2030.

GlobalData’s latest report “Robotics in Travel and Tourism,” reveals that consumer robots, logistics robots, drones, and inspection, cleaning and maintenance robots will receive the most investment from companies across the travel and tourism value chain.

Sarah Coop, an analyst at GlobalData, says: “Robotics in travel and tourism was considered as a gimmick in the past, used as early as 2015 for guest experiences without improving efficiency for staff.

“But, as the technology improved, investment has started increasing, resulting in robots for room service deliveries, cleaning services using UV light, inspection services using drones, translation services, and customer service to improve operational efficiency.”Robot and childConsumer robots and logistics robots are predicted to grow at a CAGR of 29 per cent and 21 per cent between 2020 and 2030, respectively, as robotic intelligence and cloud robotics develop, coordinated cleaning fleets and language translation check-in assistants will become more common and useful.

Coop adds: “The Covid-19 pandemic has made hygiene a priority for travellers. Robots can ensure that high risk areas are kept constantly clean, freeing up staff time, at a time where the hospitality industry is experiencing global staff shortages.

“In cheaper hotels, robots can provide operational efficiency and improve margins, keeping room prices low. In luxury hotels, robots can provide a unique guest experience.”

Some hotels have already started investing in cloud robotics. Huazhu Hotels Group and BTG Homeinns Hotels Group, which hold 7.04 per cent and 5.49 per cent of the global market share, respectively, (as measured in GlobalData’s database by the number of properties), have invested in Shenzhen ExcelLand Technology, a robotics mobile platform provider.

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Coop continues: “Robotics is increasingly becoming a strategic priority for travel and tourism companies and company filings show an increase in mentions of robotics year on year.”

For example, Thomas Cook India is using robotics and AI to automate several manual processes, which it says, “increased productivity while lowering expenses.”

Huazhu Group in China has deployed AI-powered smart robots, which it claims, “can travel the entire hotel to make deliveries of snacks, toiletries [as well as] greet guests and lead them to their rooms.”

Coop concludes: “Robotic intelligence and cloud robotics are the future and will drive investment in robotics from big market players. Robots will be able to collaborate and access huge amounts of data, creating intelligent fleets of robots performing collectively. Advances in AI will also improve robotic intelligence, such as improving translation capabilities and facial recognition.”