Often, technology makes traveling smoother (thank you, GPS, for allowing us to never pullover—or refold that impossible map—ever again). But it can also turn a minor setback into a panic-inducing, pull-out-your-hair stress-hole that could have been avoided had things been left the way they were. (Ever tried getting a human on the phone when, say, your airline has lost your luggage or made you miss your flight?). Today, technology is starting to replace one of the most traditional pieces of travel industry infrastructure—the hotel front desk and with it, the check-in ritual. Already hotels like New York‘s Public and London‘s Pilgrm have said adieu to that faithful piece of travel infrastructure in exchange for roaming attendants and tablets. Some feel it introduces a whole new realm of issues. Here, the editors duke it out.
Give Me a Human Any Day
“When I show up at a hotel after a long flight, the last thing I want to do is attempt to operate another piece of technology. I already had to do that at the airport self-check in; and again in departures, when I was attempting to order a $15 sandwich and everything had to be inexplicably done via an iPad (I’m looking at you, Newark); and then again, when I landed and had to scan my passport at immigration, which then refused to be read and I had to find a human to help me anyway. By the time I finally reach the hotel lobby, I want to roll my bag (and myself) up to real-life front desk—not deal with another dreaded touchscreen. After all, isn’t the whole point of staying at a great hotel to be looked after? Hopefully, this fad will eventually join the likes of universal light switches, pillow menus, and doorless showers in the big hotel in the sky. —Lale Arikoglu
A good front desk is like the beating heart of a hotel: a physical command center—A control tower! A headquarters!—from which you can speak to someone, face-to-face, and get a room change or directions to the best hot pot restaurant within walking distance equally quickly. And sure, sometimes there are Read more…