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Hotel Tech-in: The hologram concierges beaming up to hotel guest rooms

With the Proto M hologram device, guests at the Beverly Wilshire in California can speak to real-time holograms of hotel staff from the comfort of their suites.

Published April 30, 2024 Noelle Mateer Editor

A holographic concierge in a suite at the Beverly Wilshire. Courtesy of Proto

Hotel Tech-in is our regular feature that takes a closer look at emerging technology in the hospitality industry.

When motivational speaker Chris Gardner couldn’t travel to the Associated Luxury Hotels International’s executive meeting in September 2021, Proto had a solution. 

The Van Nuys, California-based hologram company used its device to beam him in. Gardner delivered his motivational speech as planned — only via real-time hologram. 

Proto’s holograms were “invented to make science fiction a reality,” said David Nussbaum, the technology’s inventor and CEO of the holographic technology company. And while ALHI got an early glimpse at that sci-fi reality, hologram tech is already being used in the hospitality industry. 

Although Proto isn’t the only company placing hologram tech in hotels, it is the first to use holograms in an intimate area: the guest room. The hologram company recently placed its Proto M Device in penthouse and presidential suites at the Beverly Wilshire, a Four Seasons Hotel in California. 

Nussbaum — video chatting with Hotel Dive as a pre-recorded hologram of Howie Mandel strutted behind him — spoke about how the technology could enhance the guest experience, while also making hotel staffers’ jobs easier. 

Beaming up

While holoboxes at hotels can be used for a variety of purposes — such as playing pre-recorded welcome messages, showcasing products for sale or beaming in lobby entertainment — guests in the Beverly Wilshire’s presidential and penthouse suites are using them primarily for one reason: to beam up the concierge. 

When making plans for the day, these guests no longer have to call the front desk or ride the elevator downstairs. They can simply ask the concierge to appear in the holobox — a transparent booth sitting in the suite’s living room that projects 3D holograms. The guest sees a 3D, real-time hologram of the concierge they’re speaking to; the concierge sees the interaction as a video call.

Serge Sturbois, the hotel’s director of guest experience, said the technology is “yet another way [for a guest] to communicate with us.”

“Based on the guest preference, we can communicate in person, through the Four Seasons Chat, text, a call and now by beaming via hologram into their room,” he added. 

According to Nussbaum, Proto has had the technology to do this for years. But when it came to placing it in hotel rooms, it was about finding the “right partner.” In the case of the Beverly Wilshire, it meant a hotel with a track record of implementing forward-thinking technology. 

“That’s why so many guests stay with us,” said Reed Kandalaft, Beverly Wilshire regional vice president and general manager, in a statement. “They know we provide our guests with the latest in technology, experiences and design.”

Beyond concierge services, hologram technology can be applied elsewhere in the hospitality industry. Four Seasons Chairman and Founder Isadore Sharp, for instance, has used holograms to beam across California into meetings with executives, Nussbaum said. 

Multiple applications

According to Nussbaum, with artificial intelligence, hologram technology could also provide real-time interpretation, meaning the tech could automatically translate what a hotel worker is saying into whatever language the guest prefers. 

And hotel staff could beam far beyond the rooms upstairs and into properties across the world, provided those properties have holoboxes installed. 

Beyond hotel staff, Nussbaum said guests themselves could use the technology to beam into meetings, or use it to get a 3D look at items they’re considering purchasing. And virtual concierges can also appear in lobbies — like at Hotel X Toronto in Canada

Accordingly, hospitality-focused hologram company Holoconnects is positioning its technology as a potential solution to the hotel labor shortage

In June, founder and CEO Andre Smith told Hotel Dive the tech could be used to place receptionists in multiple properties — something that’s already live at some Best Western hotels in Scandinavia. He said the holograms “can take off pressure from staff members.” 

Hospitality executives are increasingly turning to tech to alleviate the staffing pinch, according to a September report from Deloitte.

“The rapid ascension of automation and other emerging technologies presents an opportunity to address this disruption while still helping ensure the travel experience remains front-and-center,” said Danielle Hawkins, principal at Deloitte Consulting, in a statement.

Beyond hospitality, Proto has worked with Nike, H&M, Christie’s and more. And recently, the company beamed pop star Olivia Rodrigo into a fan event at Target. 

“Afterwards, people didn’t say they’d just met a hologram of Olivia Rodrigo,” Nussbaum said, with a smile. “They said they met Olivia Rodrigo.” 

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