Good Intentions, Bad Results: Is technology hurting your guest experience?

There is a lot of great technology on the market and more innovations rolling out every day. While the goal is to create efficiencies and enhance a customer’s experience at a hotel, that’s not always the case. As hoteliers, we are first and foremost in the business of making guests feel welcome and comfortable. When implementing new technologies, we need to make sure that we don’t lose site of that.

During a recent stay at a relatively new hotel in the Bay Area, I decided to valet park. The valet attendant was not wearing a name tag and did not offer his name. He took the keys, gave me a ticket and told me to text the number on the ticket when I was ready for my car.

Before heading out for dinner, I sent a text for my car and got no response. When I went downstairs, the car was waiting. That was nice. Not knowing if the valet received my request or if I was going to be late for dinner was not. It was just stressful.

When I was ready to check out the next day, I sent a text to the valet. Yet again, I got no response. This time, the car was not waiting when I went out front. I was told that they were “really busy” and that I should “come back in 15 - 20 minutes.” I asked if they could text me when the car arrived and they said that they “don’t do that.” So, I wandered around with my bag in tow for twenty minutes.

The use of technology in the valet service could have been extremely convenient and helpful as a guest. Instead, the clumsy way that it was being used, just felt convenient for the valet attendant and not at all for me. 

On a similar note, I was speaking with a woman who recently stayed at a new, very hip hotel in New York. After a long flight from San Francisco and an hour taxi ride in traffic with no air conditioning, she was looking forward to getting to her hotel room and relaxing. Upon arrival, the front desk attendant was looking at something on her desk, never bothered to look up and instead put her arm up to indicate that she shouldn’t be interrupted. The customer looked around for someone to help her, and finally another guest pointed her to a kiosk for check in.

She dragged her bags over to the kiosk, checked in and went to her room. Not one hotel employee had spoken to her. She shared with me that after looking forward to her vacation for weeks, instead she felt so frustrated and disappointed that she sat down on the bed and cried. 

As we embrace all of the wonderful technology that is available today, we have to make the guest experience our top priority. The convenience factor must apply to both the employee and the guest. When we implement new technology, we must also implement new best practices to ensure that we are enhancing a guest’s experience, not diminishing it.

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