Could technology infringe on personal guest relationships?

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With the constant evolution of technology, hotels not keeping up could be in danger of slowly slipping down the popularity ladder. However, the flipside is too many tech gadgets and innovations and you risk compromising on that first-class service. So is there a danger of the growth of technology infringing on the personal relationship between guest and staff member?

NO
Dan Visser
Marketing director, Langdale Estate
The growth of technology is an opportunity not a danger and any business that doesn’t not embrace this is at risk of alienating and loosing valuable tech savvy customers. If a guest tweets a restaurant at 6pm to find out what’s on the specials menu that evening, a response within minutes will probably make that customer book and potentially many others who see the tweet. Guests should be able to engage with hospitality (or any) business in the way that suits them, their lifestyle and their technology best. For many it will be a face to face conversation, for others it will be a tweet, email, call, instant message all are valuable interactions and should be treated with the same response in terms of timing, content and validity.

YES & NO
Mike Morgan

Director, Welsh Rarebits
Social media and online booking functionality has increased access and awareness for many smaller and independent establishments and the whole online review system has meant that ‘word of mouth’ recommendations are now easily shared and visible to everyone. So ensuring guests have a good experience when they do stay is crucial, not just for their relationship with you, but the potential multitude who might read their review.

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NO
Tim Seward

General manager, Cliff House Hotel
Technology has a huge impact on our daily lives whether in business, education or social environments. 93% of UK adults own or use a mobile phone and with 61% owning a smartphone we are never far away from a world of emails, messages, data and social media. At Cliff House Hotel we are committed to providing the very highest standard of customer service; from a warm welcome to making recommendations for day trips. We encourage our team to WOW (Adam Hamadache WOW Guest principle) and GLUE (Give Little Unexpected Extras) which can be from a welcome at your car with an umbrella, if it is raining, to remembering how a guest likes to take their morning coffee. I believe that these little extras and attention to customer service ensure that technology will never replace the satisfaction of receiving good customer service.

NO
Aditya Sanghi

Co-founder and CEO of Hotelogix.com
Technology can help build the relationship between guest and staff member. There are multiple technologies that involve guest history and feedback, to help the staff know their guests better. For example, technology can enable the housekeeping staff to enter a room and address a child present there by his first name, as there is complete information about the guest available in the hotel’s system. Technology is known to have fuelled ‘customerisation’ even in the large online world, by personalising the guest experience. Apart from these reasons, technology enables automation, thus freeing up staff time, to then spend it with the guest. Technology also eliminates operational errors, which keeps guests in a good mood.

YES
Stephen Hargreaves

Owner, The Cranleigh Boutique
Yes there is. However, there are certain customers who do not want to interact with staff; they want to be alone with their partner and enjoy the peace and luxury that the hotel affords. However, having said that, through the use of social media, guest information packs and welcome messages on the TVs and iPads in the bedrooms, a member of staff can still be personable even if it’s via a digital process.

YES
Ashley Ely

General manager, The Zetter
Absolutely, even between guest and hotel! from online booking, automated check-in, ordering room service via a tablet, ordering food and drink via a tablet in the restaurant, ordering a taxi via an app, theatre tickets via a discount website, airline check-in via PDA and express remote check out; we are in danger of not knowing our guest! Technology is cool but interaction is the point of difference – my iPad is knowledgeable and resourceful, but it is yet to be funny, charming, cheeky, charismatic and spontaneous. However, my team are!

 

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