Last month, I had the wonderful opportunity to sail on the inaugural launch of Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas out of Fort Lauderdale.
The Ship is magnificent, with beautiful open air parks, an excellent gym, and a myriad of restaurants and bars. It’s a floating city with up to 5400 passengers. The Bionic Bar was a major attraction. Liquor bottles hung from the ceiling of the bar and the 2 Robotic arms reached up to syphon the libations and create unique, separate drinks. Shaken or stirred? You can choose. Patrons place their order on a tablet at their tables and watch the progress of their drink on a digital screen by the bar. When there is down time, the bionic arms entertain by dancing to music. This was my first experience with Robotic Bartenders, but Royal Caribbean has placed them into several ships in their fleet.
The question is; where is Isaac? How many of you classic TV watchers, remember the show Love Boat with its empathetic bartender Isaac? (Don’t worry if you do. I promise not to tell.) He was the bartender patrons would laugh and joke with and tell their sorrows to. Well, you can try to converse with the mechanical arms, but what type of response will you get?
On my custom wine and beer tours, the one item I always get the most positive (or negative) feedback on is the interaction between the server or winery owner and my clients. They all repeatedly gravitate toward certain tasting rooms or vineyards that offer them the most personal, social, informative communication and service. The Human touch is what can make or break an experience in the wine and beer industry. Though the Bionic Bar was a delightful novelty, I hope that machines replacing humans is far, far off into the future.
After all, I’m not ready to be terminated.
I’ll Be Back...
Sue Schurgin is the manager of Sedona Wine and Beer Tours and is studying for her CSW and sommelier certificates.