The Henn na Hotel (roughly translating to "Weird Hotel" - and boy is it!) has recently reopened in Urayasu (a suburb of Tokyo) with a staff of robot dinosaurs manning the front desk. In what may just be the weirdest check-in experience ever, a pair of velociraptors greet hotel guests with tiny bellboy hats perched on their heads.
The Henn na chain bills itself as operating the world's first hotels staffed by robots (even the fish in the lobby pond run on batteries). Its robo-raptors check-in clerks process guests via a tablet system that operates in Japanese, English, Chinese and Korean. Luggage can then portered to guest rooms by an automated trolley droid, and room service delivered via flying drone.
Hotel manager Yukio Nagai says the move to automation was done to cut costs and to survive Japan's shrinking labour market. The gambit seems to be working, because a night at Henn na Hotel starts at 9,000 yen (CAD $150) -- a real bargain for Tokyo, where hotels can easily cost twice as much.
The Urayasu hotel is the company's 8th "robo-tel" and won't be its last. The first Henn na Hotel opened in Nagasaki in 2015 and was certified by Guinness World Records as the world's first hotel with robots on its staff.
Whether they come for the novelty or its charm, guests aren't shying away from this low-cost, robo-revolution. As technology gets increasingly cheaper, it's only (un)natural that this trend will soon spread to other aspects of the travel service industry.
They seem innocent enough, but if the dinos of Henn na Hotel are the future - we may just be facing an extinction of our own.