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.