HANOI, 16 January 2017: Is disruptive technology to blame for another victory in tourism? After the decline of the traditional travel agent, there are now signs of robots beginning to replace traditional guides.
It begins to look inevitable when news surfaces that the Centre for Scientific and Cultural Activities of Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam (Temple of Literature – National University) in Hanoi is now testing automatic multi-language guide system to serve foreign tourists.
The system provides service in eight languages; Vietnamese, English, French, Spanish, Korean, Japanese, Thai, and Chinese.
The centre’s director Le Xuan Kieu told local media the centre supervises guide services in foreign languages, but it can only serve a limited number of foreign guests using traditional guides proficient in major languages. Hence the idea of the automatic interpretation system was researched to extend the reach to other languages and tackle the guide shortage.
At present the system is stationary and basic located at each exhibit station in the centre, but it is only a matter of time before attractions across the Mekong Region realise the worth of digital guiding that will ultimately replace the traditional on-site guide.
The system narrates the history of Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam, helping visitors learn about the establishment and development of the historical site as well as its heritage and cultural values. The information is reliable and consistent and professionally narrated in the language of the listener.
Van Mieu – Quoc Tu Giam is one of the most important Confucian symbols in Vietnam, which was established in 1070-1076 under the Ly Dynasty (1010-1225).
The next step in digital guiding will arrive as robotic technology makes advances beyond stationary robots shaking cocktails behind a bar or welcoming guests at a hotel reception and communicating in the guest’s language.
Already there are systems that fit in your pocket and do a guided tour of a historical site, museum or attraction. The next step will see robots that walk you through an attraction explaining the exhibits and even suggest a snack and cup of coffee to round off the visit. They will ultimately sit down at the cafe’s table and while you sip a coffee and snack on a cake they will explain details of the next tour stop, perfectly in your native language. No complaints, gripes or hints about tips. Honest to goodness service and a perfect flow of information. Hurry the day?