Technology – an impediment to customer service?

Hotels will spend about $5 bln on upgrades in 2006 (PWC study). Making the list are better beds, high-quality furnishings and the torchbearers for techno-hospitality – WiFi, flat screen TVs and check-in kiosks.

There are 2 sides to the issue of customer service and technology. As hotels aggressively pursue automated check-ins and high-tech amenities, some believe that the end-result will be an impersonal and cold hotel experience – free WiFi, preloaded ipods and flat screen tvs are the big draws! Anyone care to greet the guest anymore?

Technology is only a scapegoat for overall poor service and lack of customer orientation at a company! Does the ATM equal poor customer service at banks!? Does anyone have a problem with automated ticket dispensing machines at airports and bus terminals? What about automated voice-systems at wireless carriers? Technology doesn’t hurt the cause of customer service in these industries.

Today’s gadget-happy traveler is looking for a home away from home – complete with the conveniences they left behind in their apartments. A friendly, courteous staff, special privileges for return customers and thank-you notes can coexist with the best of technologies. Successful hotels can pull off both without looking and feeling awkward about having replaced the human with a kiosk. Technology seldom needs an apology – good customer service either exists OR it doesn’t and that usually has little to do with technology.

Published by

Vijay Dandapani

Co-founder and president of a New York based hotel company for 24 years. Grew the firm to five hotels in Manhattan and also developed a greenfield project at MacArthur airport, New York. Speaker at numerous prestigious forums including Economy Hotels World Asia, Lodging Conference, NYU, Columbia University Real Estate Roundtable, Baruch College's Zicklin School and ALIS. President and ceo of New York City Hotel Association since January 2017.