Hilton And IBM Pilot “Connie” – The World’s First Watson-Enabled Hotel Concierge – Strategy With RS

Hilton’s, the multinational hotel chains is on a hiring new spree to recruit staff for interacting with hotel guests.

Hold your breadth – they are not hiring humans but robots.

Yes, Hilton has teamed up with IBM to develop a robot concierge to greet guests, interact with them & answer their queries. The brain of the robot is powered by AI software of IBM – Watson.

The robot is named Connie, as a tribute to the founder of this legendary hotel chain founder, Conrad Hilton.

Connie (referenced in the video below), unlike other machines, not only understands machine language but also natural language – language spoken by humans, but also responds intelligently to them.

Connie is powered by IBM’s AI software Watson. Watson is a self-learning software. The more, guests interact with Connie the smarter it gets with each interaction.

Connie is stationed next to the reception. A guest wishing to know how to navigate the hotel or find the myriad types of restaurant in the hotel can seek guidance from Connie. But Connie’s expertise is not merely restricted to facilities available in the hotel premise. It is powered by local travel site so that it can guide guest about local tourist attractions & places of interest to visit.

Why has Hilton gone in for Connie? To stand out in a crowded market by offering a creative solution.

What is a creative solution? Those solutions which violate guest expectation!

When a guest visits Hilton they expect to be greeted & guided by humans. But at Hilton, it is robots who are interacting & guiding them. This violates guests expectation & in the process Hilton stands out in guest mind as being innovative!

Result – Any brand / company which is perceived as being innovative commands a price premium.

Have robots invaded only hospitality industry? Of course not. Financial industries have hired Robots as financial advisors; Supermarkets in Japan have hired robots & stained them at the entrance of the store to greet guests in local language.

Business lessons for us: 1. Opt for a strategic alliance to power your business. In Hilton’s case, they have formed an alliance with IBM! 2. Automate jobs using technology. This will reduce cost and concomitantly deepen customers’ engagement with your brand 3. Embed technology into your business – it will help your brand appear more ‘modern & contemporary’ as compared to your competitor. Result – a brand whose Brand Image is more ‘modern & contemporary’ will be in a position to command a price premium.


About the Author



In this series, Rajesh Srivastava, Business Strategist and Visiting Faculty at IIM Indore gives you a regular dose of strategy case studies to help you think and keep you one step ahead as a professional as compared to your peers. Rajesh is an alumnus of IIM Bangalore and IIT Kanpur and has over 2 decades of experience in the FMCG industry. All previous Strategy with RS posts can be found here.




Sir, could you also please explain the logic behind Google recently rolling out TVCs for its search app when it has a virtual monopoly in the search engine segment? Sorry I do not know how else to reach out to you.

Rajesh Srivastava

Gopal apologies for not responding earlier.

Which TVCs of Google are you referring to? I presume you are referring to the “cricket” ads recently released by Google.

Yes Google has a stranglehold over the search market. Whenever people needed information, they ‘google’.

Now Google wishes to add another feature to its search engine. Whenever people wish to buy anything, they should google for it. Once people get into this habit of buying products by googling, Google will then approach the Brand owners and get them to advertise on it.

Refer to the Google cricket jersey ad. When you key in “buy cricket jersey”, the search result (https://www.google.co.in/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=buy%20cricket%20jersey) shows you jerseys available at Amazon, Snapdeal, Shopclues etc… Also on the right hand side, the text “Sponsored” appears. If you click on it, Google informs you that it may be compensated by some of these providers.

Bottom-line: Till now, Google was the go-to destination for information. Now it wishes to become a destination for commerce also. These new advertisements are geared towards achieving this objective.


Great explanation Sir! Yes I was referring to the flurry of cricket based TVCs that were shown during T20 WC.