J.MAK Hospitality founder Jon Makhmaltchi knows how to connect with agents -- even when he's not at their events in person.
Earlier this month, J.MAK officially unveiled its newest team member: The J.MAK 1000, a videoconferencing robot Makhmaltchi can send to meet with agents "in person," while he stays home.
J.MAK Hospitality represents a number of suppliers, especially hotels, and puts them in front of advisors. Advisors, in turn, get perks for clients (and, of course, commission).
The new robot -- a Double Robotics model D3 -- looks a bit like an iPad on a stick attached to a set of wheels. It's self-driving. In addition to videoconferencing, Makhmaltchi can also use it to make presentations.
Its wheels hit the ground for the first time at SmartFlyer CORE, the agency's annual conference, earlier this month.
While Makhmaltchi opted to stay home after two Covid-related family quarantines, he was able to appear at the conference for meetings and events thanks to the robot.
The J.MAK 1000 robot is self-driving and enables Jon Makhmaltchi to attend industry events from home. He can see attendees, and he, in turn, can be seen on its screen. Photo Credit: J.MAK Hospitality
This isn't the first time that Makhmaltchi has gotten creative with ways to meet advisors during the pandemic. In 2020, he purchased a custom Winnebago camper -- dubbed the MAK.mobile -- that he took around the country to various properties and meetings.
The J.MAK 1000 is sent to a conference location (SmartFlyer's was at the Rosewood Miramar Beach in Santa Barbara, Calif.) ahead of time.
SmartFlyer marketing coordinator Nicholas Leung acted as Makhmaltchi's "handler" during the robot's debut appearance.
Advisors should be on the lookout for the J.MAK 1000, as Makhmaltchi plans to deploy it at events throughout the year. Its next stop will be at Troutbeck in the Hudson Valley for a weekend apres-ski event in February.
"The robot isn't just fun," Makhmaltchi said. "It can help us continue meeting with travel advisors no matter where they are or what happens in the world. And we pride ourselves on constant activity for our partners, whether in person, on social media or, now, via robotics."