“Stay in the present” my wife calls out to me as I leave for work each day. By this, she means that if I take care of what needs to be handled in the moment the next moment, the future, will take care of itself. She understands that my position is a demanding one where I have an unending stream of requests placed on me from the minute I clock-in until the last parting good night of the day. She also knows I love my work, and put my heart and soul into serving our guests.
So, what’s to become of concierge services in the future? What will your hotel Concierge be in 50 years – a human or an android? The concept isn’t hard to imagine if a digital marketing company takes the profession by the lapels and shoots it right into the dimension of AI. I can’t help but wonder if the profession will be even remotely similar to what we know it to be now. Mimicking human intelligence isn’t necessarily going to give the patron the warm interaction that naturally comes with a human being. Isn’t the human touch a major aspect of getting our needs met when we are traveling on business or just for fun? I can’t imagine it otherwise, but guests may feel otherwise.
There are already hotels utilizing robots within their concierge departments. The Aloft Cupertino hotel in Cupertino, California is becoming well-known for its little android, Botlr, who delivers fresh coffee in the morning to newly awakened guest. Apparently, this robotic concierge is learning to take on other duties that bit by bit may someday even include garnering sought after theater tickets to the hottest show in town.
One of the most endearing and sellable features of a hotel is the way they make their guest feel personally welcomed. This is done by collecting data on each guest and knowing ahead of time what he or she prefers in order to make their stay as enjoyable as possible. For example, the Concierge makes it a practice to know what activities are requested before a guest arrives – like dinner reservations at a favorite dining spot or setting up a tee or court time in advance.
There is an art to taking good care of our customers. Admittedly, since the aid of advanced computer software, the care and feeding of our most valued clients has allowed us to offer up a few more ‘WoWs’. Bartenders can be alerted to what a patron likes to drink, maids can supply extra toiletries and towels, and particular types of fresh flowers, the in-house chef can be sure to have a special cut of meat on the menu if the patron is a frequent visitor.
Everyone who is dedicated in the service industry loves to see their work appreciated, therefore when a concierge is able to come up with a preemptive surprise the feeling is indescribably satisfying.
The future may hold more artificial intelligence in some areas, but I’m betting on the human touch keeping the lead on this one. I believe humans don’t necessarily want to live in a sterile automated world void of other human interaction. I can’t accept that a day will come when someone won’t want to fill a job in hospitality. There are just too many rewards to the give and take of making someone happy – even a stranger.
What do you think? Am I deluding myself because I love what I do and can’t imagine it being taken over by an android? Leave a comment below and chime in with your opinion.