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Tech Finds its Voice, Not THAT Voice

With all the buzz that is being generated by voice-enabled devices of late, the cacophony of hype in hospitality has been deafening. There is potential, to be sure, but many executives I spoke to preparing for this month’s cover story on the “Hotel of the Future,” voiced the sentiment that it still has a way to go before we’re looking at total voice-controlled existences.

My dad was an early adopter of primitive “voice technology,” installing a Clapper light on our back porch when I was a kid. Rather than utilizing it how it was intended by clapping*, the entire family got in the habit of yelling towards the back of the room, “Light!” as a command. It didn’t take long before instinctively I would yell “light” upon entering a dark room.  

That technology had a “way to go,” but the length of “a way to go” in technology today has drastically shortened. We are in a  “techceleration” quagmire, where technology is ahead of adoption rates only because companies cannot — or will not — act fast enough to deploy them all. This pace will not slow down as consumers invest in home innovation more rapidly than hotels and restaurants. 

In tandem to the August issue, HT releases its 2018 Customer Engagement Technology Study, mapping adoption rates of customer-facing technologies in hotels and restaurants and tracking guests’ behavior and sentiment. Customers’ desires for innovation continue to outpace hotel and restaurant adoption, and in many cases they will in fact pay more for technology they want. Some companies say that too much innovation will strip away the hospitality that must be inherent in the service industry. This is not without validity, but the real issue is that technology should not be rolled out for technology’s sake. The “voice” that technology must find is its operational one. Serve a purpose, serve it well, serve it seamlessly. 

*Clap on, clap off…the Clapper. 

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