Industry Update
Opinion Article 8 November 2019

How to Find the Balance Between Technology and Human Interaction

By Prince A. Sanders, General Manager at Trump International Hotel & Tower

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Technology has fundamentally transformed how we communicate, whether it be with family, in the workplace, or at hotels. Tech has made almost everything faster and more efficient. Every industry has been transformed, and hospitality is no exception to this trend. Today, guests at hotels expect service that balances cutting-edge technology with a human touch - a balance that is difficult to achieve. Not putting enough effort into incorporating modern tech may make a hotel appear behind the times. Leaning too far the other direction, however, risks alienating guests who prefer more personal elements.

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In recent years, the hospitality industry has scrambled to keep up with their clients' demand for technology.

Create a More Personalized Experience

One way technology helps businesses is by gathering data about their customers. This resource of information about their habits, likes, and movements is a gold mine when it comes to tailoring guest experiences.

In larger hotels, we are required to help thousands of guests feel at home every day. Creating a personalized experience for each individual while running a successful hotel often seems like an impossible task. The answer, however, lies in how we utilize data. Some hotels have started using location data and smartphones to offer maps to customers, complete with suggestions based on their historic preferences.

Think About How Technology Can Help Your Human Team Members

I find it best to think about technology as an aid, and not the end all be all for hospitality services. Technology is a tool to help us better share our heart and vision with customers. Remember that technology is not a replacement for relationships. Instead, it helps us build strong relationships with our customers by helping us better meet their needs.

Danny Meyer, the founder of New York City's Union Square Hospitality Group, has incorporated Apple watches into his restaurants. These watches are synched to the restaurants' digital reservation systems. Restaurant employees use the watches to share and receive information, from food allergies to past dining preferences.

Give Guests Options

Implementing technology into hotels often seems like a battle we can't win. Guests simultaneously demand the ease and convenience of technology such as self-service kiosks, mobile check-in, and keyless entry while also wanting personal, human interactions.

The answer lies in providing guests with options. Some guests would rather interact with technology than staff, while others expect nothing less than every interaction happening face-to-face. Technology empowers guests to choose what suits them. It has the potential to eliminate traditional hospitality frustrations like long lines and unexpected delays. Resolving these issues frees up staff to spend more time interacting with customers who prefer human touchpoints.

Technology is a powerful tool that enables us to serve our guests through personalization and improved options. We can also empower our staff via technology to better care for guests who desire face-to-face interactions. The balance between incorporating technology while maintaining human interactions is undoubtedly possible. We can use technology as an aid to improve the guest experience and better meet associate needs.

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Prince A. Sanders

Prince A. Sanders is the General Manager for Trump Hotel & International Tower New York. He is the recipient of the 2010 Leader of the Year Award for his work at The Ritz Carlton, and has hands-on experience with the Edition Hotel brand - Marriott's lifestyle brand, which led him across the world to open three properties in Hawaii, Istanbul, and London.

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