Your in-room dining delivered by drone? No idea is off-limits in UNLV’s new hospitality lab.
Cyber service may become all the rage inside UNLV’s new Hospitality Lab, where students explore robotics, drone technology, and artificial intelligence.
Put 25 college students in a room and charge them with solving problems in the hospitality industry, and it’s anyone’s guess what you’ll get. “We’ll startle everyone,” says the director of UNLV’s new Hospitality Lab, Robert Rippee, a veteran hospitality innovator himself and former SVP of marketing for Venetian and Palazzo. “Innovating could involve robotics, drone technology, advanced computing, “ he says. “We may be looking at AI, the room of the future, who knows?” In fact, the new lab is part of the university’s International Gaming Institute, and not just a product of academic midnight musings. It came into existence when Governor Brian Sandoval’s Office of Economic Development gave money to expand UNLV’s hospitality program in the same tradition as its gaming initiative. “In turn, we’d market the intellectual property or spin it off to the private sector,” Rippee explains. With cooperation from the engineering, architecture, and data science departments, the lab—which will be guided by Rippee and an impressive roster of visiting experts—culminates in a Shark Tank-like judging panel. The top idea will become someone’s pet project. A guest room that can correct for your jet lag? In the lab, anything could be possible.