Hands off the guest

Contributor/ The Vulture

The Youth, I am constantly being informed, will tell you just about anything. Unbidden. Any old fact, photo, fart that they’ve just come up with, they’re eager to ram it in your face. There’s no need to try bribe information out of them, here it all comes. On the one hand: not the internet of shared knowledge I’d envisaged. On the other: less need to rummage through their bins.

Yet, when it comes to the face-to-face, they don’t want to know. I sympathise. If I’d shared some of the photos I see online, I couldn’t look anyone in the eye either. Try checking them into their hotel room – they don’t like it. The chance to pick up a phone and order a Club Sandwich from room service? No thank you.

We’ve all had those days when we don’t want to talk to anyone. We’ve all had those weeks. But, as my grandmother would say, a smile can be contagious and also, don’t be a rude little prick. Happily for The Youth, there are an ever-increasing range of wearable technologies which mean you can be a rude little prick in the guise of being on the cutting edge.

Google Glass seems to have gone the way of the Sinclair C5 and, although I appreciate the effort of geeks to try and force EVERYONE to wear glasses, I won’t be missing it. The good folk at Apple, who have successfully got us all staring down at the ground while we walk/stepping out in front of cars while we listen to the Wu-Tang Clan, are having rather more success at claiming bits of our bodies.

In a mere matter of weeks the Apple Watch will be out and hoteliers are showing an interest. Apps, where you can order room service and complain about the pillows will be integrated and, for the recently-shamed-on-Facebook, there will be the chance to bypass check-in and use the watch as a room key.

Brands are already using early adoption of guest-hands-off technology as a USP and if that’s your bag, more power to your wrist. But where does this leave traditional hotels? Look, but don’t touch? Don’t look too much? Look, but use a virtual mirror like the Medusa? Once a hotel gives up service, isn’t it just Airbnb?

Service is whatever the guest wants, the mantra goes. Even if that’s not service that any of us recognise. The evolutionary challenge for hotels now is to truly know your guest. Their wants, needs and when not to recognise them.