Stay in an automated Sexton Stays Lola Hotel New Orleans

Hello and welcome to Protocol Enterprise! Today: what it’s like to stay and work in a hotel occupied by people thousands of miles away, why an open data sharing format introduced last week might actually last, and as far as possible Cisco calms business expense worries for another week.

programmed to receive

When I booked a room at a Sextant Stays hotel in New Orleans in June, little did I know that my stay would involve automated check-in and an array of interactions with emerging technologies – liquor vending machines and noise sensors to offshore janitors on video monitors.

Take-out? While automation sometimes adds novelty and convenience, it opens the door to new technical issues and unique work dynamics that go beyond the usual tensions when robots replace humans. Here’s a look at my story about the emerging world of hotel automation.

Before arriving I was asked to upload a selfie and a photo of my ID using the Superhog software.

  • Would it be used to match my real face when I arrive at the hotel? I was wondering. No. For now, it’s just for credit card validation.
  • Guests of The Lola hotel can purchase aspirin or forgotten condoms from CVS-branded kiosks.
  • In-room digital touchscreens use guest reservation data to enable personalized welcome messages and allow guests to order $100 mid-stay cleaning services.
  • Noise sensors monitor loud parties or loud, sustained noises that can cause a bad night for other guests.
  • Or do you want to relax after a stressful flight? A shot of Maker’s Mark bourbon from the lobby’s automated liquor dispenser is $5 – but if someone isn’t there in person to verify your identity to get a special cash card for the machine, you won’t have no luck.

I was surprised when I arrived to see what at first glance looked like a disembodied head. It was actually a woman smiling at me from a tablet-sized screen in the lobby.

  • She was one of Sextant’s 10 full-time virtual concierges, all based more than 8,000 miles away in the Philippines. She told me she could host properties in New Orleans one day and in Miami the next.
  • It’s a question of savings. The company can afford a lean concierge staff of 10 instead of the 30 it would need in a traditional in-person setup.
  • “Our concept was, let’s make sure we’re as productive as possible in rethinking the traditional hotel cost structure,” Andreas King-Geovanis, CEO of Sextant Stays, told me.
  • Employing foreign workers for virtual concierge is “really quite rare,” said John D. Burns, president of Hospitality Technology Consulting.

It was sometimes a bit sorry to walk around the hotel. And automated technology replacing people could mean more work for the people who are still there.

  • When my room door code didn’t work during an early check-in, a housekeeping supervisor helped communicate with the virtual concierge – a task that someone in a guest-facing role s would generally occupy.
  • “One of the challenges of these labor saving efforts through these technologies [systems] ironically, they often create more manpower to manage them than they otherwise would,” said Lisa Kresge, senior researcher at UC Berkeley’s Labor Center.

What will the future of hospitality look like if automation takes over? Check out the full story.

-Kate Kaye (E-mail | Twitter)

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Open standards have a moment of safety

The Open Cybersecurity Scheme Framework — announcement a week ago by AWS, Splunk and many other industry heavyweights – has a good chance of becoming the de facto data format in cybersecurity. If this is achieved, it would be extremely helpful to customers, because today it is very annoying that most of the security tools do not work well with each other.

But what happens next? Our Braintrust article on the subject this week provided some great insights, and I also got some additional thoughts from Mark Ryland, Director of the CISO Office at AWS. He told me that the first 17 participating vendors should soon begin announcing updated products and services related to the OCSF standard.

“I think you’ll see some feature and function releases from vendors signing up pretty quickly in the next few months, saying, ‘We now support sending or consuming data, in or out of our product, using this format,'” he said. This means that “within a few months, we will see a significant decrease in the amount of custom code or special connectors that need to be created”.

Some vendors have found “great success” in building custom connectors, Ryland noted.

“They have the commercial advantage today [in] that they can issue or consume more formats than maybe some of their competitors,” he told me. “But rather than competing on this point, I think [OCSF] is a recognition that ‘Hey, as a community, we have a serious challenge, which is to help people be safer. So let’s focus on adding analytical business value, rather than just the amount of connectors we have. And that, I think, is a pretty big change.”

—Kyle Alspach (E-mail | Twitter)

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Thanks for reading – see you tomorrow!

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