Human-Robotic Interactions in Hospitality and Tourism: Opportunities, Challenges, Advancements, and Beyond

Submissions open 2nd October 2023


Tourism and hospitality organizations such as hotels, restaurants, airlines, and destinations are the front runners of adopting technologies to transform service delivery and customer experiences. Recent decades have witnessed an irreversible impact of technological trends on the hospitality and tourism industry, evidenced by voluminous studies on technology-enabled services (e.g., self-service technologies, smart systems, and service robots), their influences on customer evaluation (Zhu & Chang, 2020), service experience and quality (Xiao & Kumar, 2021), cost-effectiveness (Buhalis & Leung, 2018), task performance (Tuomi et al.,2020), and more. Among many technology applications, the surge of service robots has begun to gain traction among scholars (e.g., Cain et al., 2019; Ivanov et al., 2019; Lu et al., 2019; Xiao & Kumar, 2021). Consumers have shown positive attitudes towards the human-likeness and intelligence of service robots (Lu et al., 2021; Qiu et al., 2020; van Pinxteren et al., 2019) while others raising concerns due to the perceived threat of human identity, negative emotions, and ethics of replacing human staff (Mende et al., 2019). Robots’ participation in the frontline has marked the fundamental shift in the nature of service (Xiao & Kumar, 2021). As such, the automated social presence necessitates a continuing investigation on whether and/or how robots can successfully play a role in service encounters, and how they can be integrated into conventional human-to-human interactions (e.g., employee-to-customer and employee-to-employee) to produce positive outcomes. This special issue encourages the submission of research papers that discuss issues around human-robotics interactions in various hospitality and tourism service settings.

In this special issue, service robots refer to robotics that are physically present in the service environment as artificially intelligent (AI) agents (Lu et al., 2021). Non-intelligent technologies (e.g., self-service technologies), virtual chatbots, or virtual AI systems are beyond the scope. Human-robotic interactions have challenged the conventional channels that the hospitality touch mostly sprouts from human-to-human interactions. Positive interactions (e.g., employee-to-customer and employee-to-employee) are critical to building trust, increasing satisfaction, developing guest relationships, loyalty as well as building rapport (Kim et al., 2001; Qiu et al., 2020). Besides advantages related to task efficiency and operational expenses, how interacting with robotics can be re-imagined as a new fashion of delivering hospitality touch, building trust, fostering relationships, and creating a new service landscape require scholars’ concerted effort. Such a reformation of conventional hospitality and tourism service interactions warrants a deep dive into all aspects related to human-robotics interactions to advance theory and industry practices.

List of topic areas

  • New theories and constructs that advance our understanding of Human-Robot Interactions Internal and external factors that determine the acceptance of social robots in human-dominated service interactions.
  • Service robots in multi-actor value co-creation of hospitality and tourism businesses.
  • The role of social and service settings in willingness to integrate robots in human interactions.
  • Characteristics or features that determine willingness to interact with service robots.
  • Service failures and recoveries of human-robot interactions Emotional intelligence: how smart should service and social robots be.
  • Human-robot interaction: issues, complexities, outcomes, and the dark side.
  • How robots can be integrated into consumer touchpoints to optimize the user experience.
  • Designing human-robot interactions to advance user experience and trust.

Submissions information

Submissions are made using ScholarOne Manuscripts. Author guidelines must be strictly followed.

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Author Guidelines

Authors should select (from the drop-down menu) the special issue title at the appropriate step in the submission process, i.e. in response to “Please select the issue you are submitting to”. Submitted articles must not have been previously published, nor should they be under consideration for publication anywhere else, while under review for this journal.

Key deadlines

Opening date for manuscripts submissions: 02/10/2023

Closing date for manuscripts submission: 01/01/2024

Email for submissions: [email protected]; [email protected]