Industry Update
Opinion Article27 February 2018

Convenience does not equal service

By Todd M. Noftall, Hotelier

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We are in the early stages of the technological age of hotels. The industry has changed more in the last five years then it had in any other period in its history. But there is one thing that remains constant and this one thing is the corner-stone of our industry.


Innovative tools like Mobile Key and Mobile Check-in have revolutionized the industry and have given our guests a sense of freedom and flexibility unlike any other innovation. Self check-in kiosks provide our guests with a far more streamlined check-in experience than any person could offer. As the influence of AI continues to grow and Chabot's become more and more intuitive, not to mention Alexa or any other voice activated device that makes your room a connected one, your guests will have almost everything they need in the palm of their hands.

These, and other yet unknown and undiscovered technologies, offer our guests with a level of convenience unmatched at any time in our industry's history.

But it is so important to make this one distinction.

Convenience does not equal service.

These new innovations do not provide service; they are amenities and tools for our guests to use. They are a convenience. Great customer service is fundamentally about personal interaction and one-on-one connections. Does convenience impact your guests' perception of their stay? Without question it does, but not the entirety of it.

Right now only a few brands have benefited from these new tools. But common sense, as well as an understanding and acknowledgment of technological trends, would certainly suggest that all Hotel companies are working hard to improve on their own technology. Within a few years this will be the norm.

So let's not rage against the machine but rather let's embrace it while staying true to who we are and what we do. In ten years we will look back and wonder how we did without them like we do now with email, smart phones and social media. But by the same token, as it relates to email, smart phones, social media and other conveniences that we are surrounded by, we now realize the importance of, and actively seek, personal connections and we truly value one on one interactions.

Technology is not the magic cure for all of your service issues. While it is convenient for your guests to be able to request additional towels or a later check-out through an SMS message with the Front Desk, basic customer service traits like empathy, caring and understanding cannot be shared in a text message. It is and will always be the extra effort and commitment to providing your guests with a memorable stay that will make the difference.

Convenience is something your guests want, but great service is something your guests truly appreciate and value most.

Todd M. Noftall

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