With much of the nation in the thick of winter and experiencing colder temperatures, it’s officially “season” here in the Sunshine State. What can snowbirds and tourists expect to see this year? More technology in Florida hotels, restaurants and attractions.
Like many other industries across the state and nation, hospitality faces significant workforce shortages. The 2023 Deloitte Automation and Labor in Travel Survey found that just 5% of hotels will return staffing to 100% of 2019 levels by the end of this year. Many lodging businesses in the Sunshine State have turned to technology to help bridge the gap.
In one example reported by The Washington Post, Hawks Cay Resort in the Florida Keys has enlisted a crew of six robots.
“Two of them run food and assist staff at the hotel’s restaurant, Angler and Ale. Two others vacuum common spaces such as hallways and ballrooms, while another pair clean flooring.”
But technology does more than fill the workforce gap. In another example, technology is promoting sleep for travelers. At the Lake Nona Wave Hotel in Orlando, recently featured in Travel + Leisure, guests can rest easy on a smart bed that adjusts to meet each individual’s optimal sleep conditions. The bed controls the temperature and rebalances to eliminate pressure points.
Interactions between businesses and customers are timelier than ever with the help of artificial intelligence (AI). Many hospitality businesses use AI to respond quickly to frequently asked questions from guests. AI also schedules reservations or makes personalized suggestions for guests based on their preferences and past experiences.
Florida even uses technology to keep beaches free of small pieces of plastic and litter. BeBot is a 900-pound robot that can be seen roaming various Florida beaches while filtering litter from the sand.
As businesses adopt new technologies and innovations to ensure Florida remains a global destination for exceptional service and world-class attractions, there is concern that the heavy hand of the government could slow or halt progress.
Earlier this month, Europe passed the world’s first comprehensive AI regulations. Conservatives predict the EU’s AI Act will stifle innovation and drive away tech startups.
In the Sunshine State, a handful of bills that contemplate the regulation of AI are filed. NetChoice, a national trade association that advocates for technology, free enterprise and free expression, urges Florida lawmakers to continue supporting innovation.
“Technology offers unique solutions for industries struggling from labor shortages and looking to improve customer experience,” says NetChoice Director of Public Affairs Rob Winterton. “With more than 130 million visitors to the Sunshine State each year, it’s no surprise that Florida’s hospitality industry relies on technology to keep up with demand and provide travelers with the high-quality service that’s expected. It’s critical for decision-makers to protect and promote innovation so that Florida’s tourism industry continues to attract visitors from around the world.”