Technology or Service: Which Is More Important?

Hotels have added car chargers for eRental cars, SMART TVs, and alarm clocks with docking stations. But do guests take advantage of these amenities like they do the free soap and shampoo?

Today, it’s all about the newest software, latest iPhone, and fastest connection. But how is that affecting our customer service? I can remember a time when there was a kiosk in the lobby of a hotel where I was working and guests could swipe their credit card, select a bed type, and it would spit out room keys. What, no warm welcome from the front desk? No “How was your trip?” There was no way to take it a step further and ask about upgrading a frequent traveler or selling more to a guest who was willing to pay for additional amenities. Needless to say, that kiosk was rolled into the very back of the bellman’s closet. I wanted my guests at the hotel to speak to a “live” person and make a connection during their first few minutes at the property.

So what are the new trends at hotels to keep up with the demands of the technologically savvy traveler? We’ve added car chargers in our parking garages for eRental cars. We have the latest alarm clocks with docking stations in guest rooms. There are SMART TVs in the room—which means you need to be smarter than the TV to work the remote. But how does all this benefit the guests? Is it really their home away from home? Do they take advantage of these amenities like they do the free soap and shampoo? Or are they just features we can say we offer to drive rates?

Here is my prediction (or wish list) on what’s next in the industry that will impact customer service:

  • Let’s get out from behind the front desk. Envision this: A front desk representative is anticipating the guest’s arrival, waiting for her in the beautiful lobby. The front desk representative greats the guest, checks her in on her iPad or tablet while walking her to the elevator. The representative then points out the restaurant, the lounge, the fitness room, and the breakfast area, and informs the guest of their hours. That would take checking into a hotel to an entirely new level. Creating that customer experience and making that connection with the guest is priceless.
  • Connecting before they are even a guest. What if reservationists weren’t on the phone or on their headset, but actually could see the potential guest? FaceTime reservations? Experts say you can hear a smile in someone’s tone of voice over the phone, but what if you could see it? The technology is there, but are we using it to provide exceptional customer service to our customers?

What do you think is the next big thing in customer service that technology can enhance? If we are going to make the “investment” in these latest and greatest gadgets, let’s make sure that it’s making an impact on the guest experience and not just interrupting it.

Michael Civita is a National Account manager at Signature Worldwide, a Dublin, OH-based company offering sales and customer service training, marketing, and mystery shopping services for a variety of service-based industries. For more information, call 800.398.0518 or visit You also can connect with Signature on Twitter @SignatureWorld and on Facebook.



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