Technology versus the human touch

The hospitality industry is increasingly relying on technology, but will this advancement render the human touch unnecessary? We find out from eminent spokespersons on the prominence of human touch in today’s times and why it will never take a back seat.

As the hotel industry continues to increasingly survive on technology to give better experiences to guests, is the value of customer service that lies at the heart of true hospitality, coming under threat? The Indian hotel industry, specifically, relies a great deal on the ‘human touch’, which is accompanied by personalised services.

Pawan Gupta
Executive Director
Hotel Trinity Grand

A phenomenon to be undone
In times to come, the fading human touch phenomenon will be reversed. The hospitality industry cannot breathe without the human touch. It is a very basic need for the industry. That said, the hospitality industry is a volatile one and the retention of humans is a challenge. We need to explore multiple ways from time to time to overcome this challenge.

No replacement for humans
F&B production and F&B service are two such departments of a hotel where humans play and will continue to play a crucial role. Whatever may be the technological advancements in these departments, they cannot survive without the human touch. It’s humans that make cuisines delicious and presentable; it’s humans that serve food to guests the way they prefer; it’s humans that ensure guest experiences are delightful; and lastly, it’s humans that can make guests want to visit again.

Technology is no match
Any number of technological innovations, no matter how advanced they are, can replace the human touch in the hospitality industry for thousands of years to come.

Sulabh Suri
Director Human Resources
Hyatt Regency Mumbai

Observation is key for delivery
At Hyatt, we feel that both technology and product are merely table stakes. What really makes a difference is the emotional connection we have with each other and with our guests. The key thing that we do for our guests is deliver experiences that really resonate with them and matter to them. This practice entails recognising what their desires are and ensuring that we fulfil those desires. All of it ultimately revolves around serving and activating our purpose as a company, so it’s really about caring for those people and making sure we help them be their best.

Technology can only go so far
The stay and dine options available at hotels is what determines guest preferences. Over the last decade, technology has played a major role in how we are able to create faster and smoother guest experiences. However, the emotional connect we have with guests is irreplaceable. Hence, while technology can help scale up those experiences, it will be difficult to create those experiences without the human touch.

For instance, we can use modern technology in the way a meal is prepared but technology will not be able to replace how that meal becomes a great meal without the love and experience put in by chefs. Similarly, guests always rate the need for a comfortable bed high on their priority list while choosing a hotel stay; the aesthetic sense of crafting that guest room cannot be replaced with technology.

Technology not a complete answer
In a hotel like ours, 50 per cent of the guests are Indian nationals. It is therefore imperative for us to use technology prudently. The world is changing, and we must too. We cannot do away with the advancements of technology in everyday working.

While technology is important in creating a seamless guest experience, application of human touch is also extremely vital. Instant messaging, for example, has helped us serve our guests better and faster without the need to reach out to associates. The art of creating that superior experience is visible in the way in which the associate engages with the guest for that request.

Aashima Sharma
General Manager
Park Hyatt Chennai

Human touch at every step
We care for people so they can be their best and no technology can ever replace the human interface. Technological advancement is a need and it’s there to make our life simpler, allowing us more time for making a difference in the lives of those we touch everyday with empathy and humility. Human touch is present at every step, right from arrival at a hotel to departure from it. Human interactions are necessary to ensure a guest’s stay is not just comfortable but also a memorable experience with a sense of family and home that the guest can associate the hotel with.

People – The essence of hospitality
Each department of a hotel needs people. The hospitality industry is essentially about people. Departments that focus heavily on humans are culinary and housekeeping, where technology cannot rule.

Indian hospitality tops all
Whilst technology has become a significant part of the industry, hospitality, as the word suggests, cannot purely be dependent on machines. The human interface still remains at the heart of our business in the country and technology is being embraced to enhance the experience rather than replace the human interface. We still don’t have vending machines in most hotels in India to dispense a meal. The one thing that people expect as soon as they arrive in the country is our hospitality, where a gracious welcome by a doorman remembering their name is what makes their stay memorable; an automated door cannot replace this experience, but only enhances it, their luggage to be taken by an associate and someone checking them in with the pleasant smile, instead of a kiosk and so on.