• Hotel Sky in Johannesburg is the first African hotel to deploy robot staff members.
  • Whilst this hotel is the first of its kind on the continent, robot concierges have been around for a while, with Tokyo’s Henn’na or ‘Strange’ hotel becoming the first to be fully staffed by machines in 2015.
  • The robots in Hotel sky will help to serve those with mild COVID-19 symptoms and reduce the risk of spreading the disease.

Staff at Hotel Sky in Johannesburg’s wealthy Sandton district adhere to strict COVID-19 protocols, wearing masks and physically distancing from guests as much as possible; all, that is, except Lexi, Micah and Ariel.

For the three concierges couldn’t breathe germs on you even if they wanted to: they’re robots.

Robot hospitality is not new – Japanese hotels have been deploying them for years and in 2015 Tokyo’s Henn’na, or ‘Strange’, hotel became the first to be fully staffed by machines.

Several robot-staffed Tokyo hotels are now using them to serve guests with mild COVID-19 symptoms.

But Hotel Sky, which launched this year, is the first in Africa to use automated attendants, a concept that could cause a stir in a country with one of the world’s worst jobless rates.