Has Hospitality Lost It's Way?
Hospitality means friendliness, welcome, warm reception, helpfulness, congeniality, sociability, conviviality, cordiality, amicability ... So, let us compare that with a vision for the future of hotels taken from an article: "8 Reasons Why Your Hotel Brand Needs a Mobile App to Succeed" - By Mike Murray of "Tripcraft":
“With a few finger taps, she requests an airport transfer and early check-in, receiving a confirmation notification within seconds. Upon entering the hotel, a welcome message pops up, complete with her booking information and room number. Skipping the front desk line, she heads directly to her room, unlocking it with the app’s mobile key technology on her smartphone.”
Great. Here, one has successfully managed to avoid all human interaction. The whole procedure has totally alienated the individual from the supplier and has managed to move as far as possible from the concept of "hospitality" as possible. This is not a good idea. The same applies to airlines in that as much actual human interaction has been and still is being removed from the process. Is it better? No. Is there this need for speed to the extant that a person cannot queue for a few moments?
Look at TESCO who championed a "one in front" policy. True, nearly all their supermarkets have a self service option. You can scan as you shop or you can simply shop and then perform the check-out process yourself. The major difference, here, is that TESCO (as do other supermarkets) also have manned check-outs and these are invariably busy. If the manned checkouts were bereft of anyone, travel tech would have a point. Fact of the matter is, travel tech, in this instance, has no point at all.
By all means offer a tech solution but do not remove or worse, do not forcibly restrict access to another human being. The default should be a human operator, with the option to use a tech solution - yet airlines and increasingly, hotels, seem to think that the purely cost driven alternative should be the default.
Further evidence for this now exists within the rise of the number of incidents that we are seeing on aircraft and to a lesser extent in hotels. As people, especially, perhaps, younger people become or are able to become more tech reliant, then the natural skills of inter-human communication will become lost. People get upset because we increasingly live in and are becoming an insular wold, void of all human contact, so we lose the skills of human interaction. To find the "Hospitality" industry at the front of this charge defies all logic.
Age is important and the ability of any given member of staff to provide a solution to any issues. It is nice to see young people fronting any supplier but a person of any age who is the front for any supplier, where that person has no power to resolve issues, is worse than useless. Maturity can breed respect. If an angered older person is fronted by a very young person with no real power to resolve an issue, then matters can get worse, not better.
The hospitality industry along with the rest of the travel industry, needs to remember that we are all in a very "human" industry; by all means use tech to speed up the process and the accuracy for and of the provision of information, though if we allow travel tech to make us forget the human side of our industry, as it is increasingly doing so in air travel, then we will not be doing ourselves any favors and certainly doing nothing for the future generations of our society.