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Guest Service: Health and Safety First

 

There is No Hospitality in Contactless Service

Covid-19 Has Provided an Ideal Opportunity for a Hospitality Industry Reset

By Peter McAlpine Senior Consultant, Renaissance Consulting Ltd. | April 18, 2021

The current trend for contactless service because of Covid-19 may be wonderful news for shareholders, but it will lead to further decline in the spirit of hospitality. Heaven forbid that the trend will become mainstream and grow!

The SOP-Customer Satisfaction concept used by the hotel industry has already drastically diluted the spirit of hospitality and removed its essence of unconditional love, but now we have some of the largest hotel group corporate offices leading an enthusiastic, Braveheart-like charge for contactless service.

Instead of killing off the spiritual life of hotel hospitality, the hotel industry should be using the current, unique opportunity provided by the pandemic to reset itself and move on from this old-style concept.

The Spirit of True Hospitality

But first, what do I mean by "hospitality"? My understanding of hospitality is radically different to the weak hotel industry norm:

True hospitality is an energetic and spiritual experience, which is rooted in and infused with unconditional love, loving-kindness, compassion, and heart-warming care. In its pure form hospitality is about showing unconditional love to fellow human beings, and this is shown especially by means of loving-kindness, compassion, and heart-warming care.

Every guest interaction creates the feelings in the quotation above. (Meditate to fathom the deep meanings and feelings in every word and clause.) Even before Covid-19 and the advent of contactless service, the standards-oriented SOP-Customer Satisfaction norm was a world apart from this. The gap will become wider still with contactless service.

The Nature of Contactless Service

What kind of contactless service are we starting to see? It resembles hotel virus quarantine service in some ways. Room Service is ordered by an app and delivered outside the door and the guests take the trolley or tray into the room themselves. Housekeeping items are asked for and provided in the same way. Room cleaning is carried out when the guests are not in the room. The room door is opened with an app. Check-in and check-out are done by an app. If a restaurant is open, food and drink orders will probably be carried out by using a QR Code or an app to eliminate the use of printed menus.

If you do not use a check-in app a masked Receptionist will greet you from behind a plexi-screen and hand you an A4 sheet of paper outlining the hotel's Covid-19 protocols and priorities. Your key cards will be presented on a tray so there is a contactless exchange. Nobody will show you to your room. Around the hotel the staff will keep their distance from the guests. This is just part of what contactless service entails.

The Further Decline of Hospitality

This is not hospitality. It is SOP-Customer Satisfaction sinking to even lower spiritual depths. What has happened to the grand promises of hotel groups that they will provide guests "hospitality from the heart"? "But we must protect the guests from the staff.", they cry. "They might have the virus! And we must protect the staff from the guests. They might have the virus!" I understand the fear. But what happens to hospitality in such a fear-filled environment? Yes, it dies. The energy in such a hotel and the energy radiated by the staff must have a terribly low vibration. This is not hospitality anymore.

"Ah, but it's only for a short time. Once Covid-19 has gone, we'll get back to providing caring service!" Do you really think so? I don't because the contactless service procedures and technology will stay largely in place, just in case.

Also, the staff will have got so used to contactless service and to just doing their job with as little contact with guests as possible that it will be very difficult to raise them up from the unemotional depths of contactless service. Simply rolling out the corporate 7 Steps to Memorable Service training after the virus has gone will not remedy the situation.

If the trend for contactless service gains traction, hotel groups and hotels that have implemented it should delete the word "hospitality" from their websites because there is no hospitality in contactless service. I hear screams of "Nonsense!" You don't believe me? Try providing your mother with contactless service and ask her to evaluate your spirit of hospitality. If she gives you one out of one hundred, it's only because she doesn't want you to feel bad.

With the digitalization of service in mind, Etihad Airways' Vice-President of Guest Experience and Delivery, Linda Celestino, has pointed out that there are many things that can be replaced by automation in this digital age. However, one of the few things that cannot be replaced is how another person makes you feel. The personal touch is what creates a connection, warms the heart, and nurtures loyalty.

The New Normal

Later this year the international hotel conferences will no doubt start again, and the usual hotel group CEOs will give their vision for the future of the hotel industry. I expect that they will talk about what they consider to be the sensible New Normal in the hotel industry, which will probably include the need for long-term contactless service and even more technology. I hope that they will be wiser than to propose this direction because they are supposed to be the leaders of the hospitality industry.

What effect will this vision of the New Normal have on guests? Certainly, it will keep the guests reasonably safe from getting infected by the virus. But the guests are human beings and it is ironic that the leaders of the hospitality industry are forgetting the basic human need for unconditional love, and the very essence of what the industry should be standing for, which is unconditional love, loving-kindness, compassion, and heart-warming care.

People Need Unconditional Love

We are experiencing a pandemic, which has dramatically changed our everyday lives. Millions of people have lost loved ones. We are also experiencing an epidemic of fear, anxiety, and suspicion because we are worried about meeting someone with the virus. Many people have experienced the isolation and loneliness of a lockdown, which creates its own range of mental health issues. People are worried about the future. Will they lose their job in these difficult, economic times? Will they find a job if they lose their job? Will they or a family member get infected by the virus or by one of the many emerging mutations? How will they pay for the hospital bill?

What is it that people need most, especially nowadays? If hoteliers listen to their heart, they will hear the answer, namely that people need unconditional love. They need loving-kindness. They need heart-warming care. They also need compassion. How intensely should staff show these spiritual qualities? Regarding compassion, the Dalai Lama has said: "True compassion has the intensity and spontaneity of a loving mother caring for her suffering baby. Throughout the day, such a mother's concern for her child affects all her thoughts and actions. This is the attitude we are working to cultivate toward each and every being." The hospitality industry should also. Does contactless service provide this? Does SOP-Customer Satisfaction? Need I answer for you?

Unconditional love, loving-kindness, compassion, and heart-warming care are not even the core values of the hospitality industry. You can see this is in every mission and vision statement. Hotel groups like to say that they provide "true" or "authentic" hospitality, but then why do they remove the essence of unconditional love from hospitality? The nearest you get is "care", but that is corporate-style SOP-care, not energetic, spiritual, heart-warming care based in unconditional love. What has the hospitality industry got against love anyway? Why can't the industry understand that unconditional love is the essence of hospitality?

Show Unconditional Love During the Pandemic

Can hotel staff create the feelings in the quotation above about care during the Covid-19 pandemic? Can they be so caring as to make guests feel like they are smelling a most beautiful perfume? Of course, they can! But it is difficult to do this when the hotel is using the loveless, quality standards-oriented, and unemotional concept of SOP-Customer Satisfaction.

I hear corporate hoteliers protest that the concept isn't loveless. Then why don't you make unconditional love, loving-kindness, compassion, and heart-warming care the central core values of your hotels and hotel groups? The first action of the new Marriott CEO should be to remedy the group's pitiful list of core values by giving unconditional love the seat of honour.

I don't mean that the staff should hug the guests during the pandemic. The staff pass the guests in public areas, don't they? Can't they show these core values in words and body language, especially through the eyes? Of course, they can. Can staff call the guests in their rooms, ask them how they are, and show compassion and kindness in words? Of course, they can. Can staff leave handwritten notes in the guest rooms that show compassion and unconditional love? Of course, they can. Can the staff at Reception and in the food & beverage outlets show unconditional love and kindness to the guests even from behind their plexi-screens? Of course, they can.

My point here is that guests need unconditional love, but I cannot see how the hotel industry can be providing it. Indeed, with the advent of contactless service and the inclusion of more technology it is watering down hospitality even more than SOP-Customer Satisfaction does at the best of times. I feel sure that the industry's New Normal will be a disaster for the spirit of hospitality.

What are the consequences of contactless service for guest loyalty? Hotel groups have spent a fortune developing loyalty programmes, but why should a guest be loyal to a particular brand when hotel groups generally are providing contactless, unauthentic hospitality with QR codes, apps, and plexi-screens? The loyalty playing field has been flattened, so guests have no need to be loyal to any brand.

SOP-Customer Satisfaction Is the Wrong Direction in a Pandemic

But just supposing that a hotel group had decided before the pandemic to move on from SOP-Customer Satisfaction to energetic and spiritual hospitality. Would this have helped them now? Absolutely! Supposing that the staff showed intense unconditional love, loving-kindness, compassion, and heart-warming care, how would the guests feel? Would they be loyal to the hotel or brand both during and after the pandemic? It's a no-brainer question. If hotel groups had moved on in the direction of spiritual and energetic hospitality they would not be worried about where their guests will come from during and after the pandemic.

But if unconditional love, loving-kindness, compassion, and heart-warming care aren't included in a hotel group's or a hotel's core values, they won't be included in the corporate service training after the pandemic, will they? Besides, you develop the essential core values of hospitality by developing spiritual capacity, which hotels do not do. Can you imagine a hotel group Board member saying, "I think we should develop spiritual capacity throughout the group because I think we should transform our group's hospitality with energy and unconditional love."? There would be stunned silence followed by fits of laughter.

One day Covid-19 will no longer be a problem, and gradually hotels will rehire employees and carry out training for the new staff as well as refresher training for the other staff. Hotels in the chains will use the same old corporate SOP-Customer Satisfaction workshops while independent hotels will use their own SOP-Customer Satisfaction workshops. Soon afterwards, hospitality throughout the hotel industry will be back to what it was pre-Covid-19 except for all the hotels that have chosen to provide contactless service. Does nobody see anything wrong here?

SOP-Customer Satisfaction is already a deficient concept. It doesn't provide genuine hospitality because it is a quality standards-oriented concept. The concept is about correctness and efficiency, not about the essence of hospitality, which lies in unconditional love for fellow human beings, loving-kindness, compassion, and heart-warming care. Why on earth would the hotel industry want to recreate itself in that image? Worse still, why would the corporate leaders of the industry want to recreate it throughout their tens and hundreds of hotels?

Resetting the Hospitality Industry Concept Now

Covid-19 has provided an ideal opportunity for a complete reset of hospitality. What an opportunity the hotel industry has now to leave the obsolete concept of SOP-Customer Satisfaction behind and to move on to energetic and spiritual Heart-Based Hospitality! Hoteliers now have the time to recreate hospitality in its energetic and spiritual essence.

Yes, it will involve an awful lot of work. Hotel group and hotel mission and vision statements will have to be rewritten. The operational manuals will have to be adapted to include unconditional love, loving-kindness, compassion, and heart-warming care. The 7 Steps to Perfect Guest Satisfaction workshops will have to be thrown in the bin and rewritten. Policies, procedures, and job descriptions will have to be adapted, and hiring procedures will have to be changed. Of course, some corporate folks and hoteliers who do not like change will have to be … replaced.

Think of the Possibilities!

I should point out here that I am not talking about replacing a static and limiting hospitality concept with another one. There is no ceiling to energetic and spiritual hospitality. Once a hotel or hotel group is set up, the hospitality can become energetically and spiritually warmer and warmer and … Indeed, the energetic and spiritual nature of the hospitality that hotels provide will become the main area of competition between hotels. Hotels that become very good at creating it may be able to command a premium. People will pay to stay at a hotel that feels energetically special and which is strong in unconditional love, loving-kindness, compassion, and heart-warming care. This is where true loyalty will arise.

I think that hoteliers generally know that something is wrong with SOP-Customer Satisfaction, but nobody dares to say anything at a hotel conference. Contactless service will worsen the situation. Recreating the same old hospitality "normal" when you know that something is wrong with it is like moving back into your home when it is leaning over after an earthquake.

The hotel industry has to move on some day so why not now? Is the well-worn and barren Rut of Tradition really so beautiful? When the next pandemic comes you will have loyal guests because everyone needs unconditional love, loving-kindness, compassion, and heart-warming care and they will stay at hotels that provide it. I hope I am wrong in thinking that mankind will have to wait another generation for the inevitable change to come, but I honestly believe that this is the case.

Dare to Change!

I am realistic. Energy and unconditional love are not words used in corporate boardrooms where nobody wants to rock the corporate boat. Even among independent hotels, will any of them perceive the value and wisdom of transforming their hospitality with energy and unconditional love? Yet, this transformation is what should be happening now and the virus has provided the opportunity.

It is unlikely that Covid-19 will be the last pandemic. What will hotels do after the next pandemic? Recreate SOP-Customer Satisfaction yet again? You know that it doesn't meet people's emotional, energetic, spiritual, wellness, and healing needs, so why would you want to keep recreating it? Yet I believe that this is what will happen, and that it may take a whole generation of time before the dawn of change and understanding appears.

It doesn't have to be like this though. If independent hotels started today, in 6 months their hospitality would already start to be in greater demand than the SOP-Customer Satisfaction over at the competing chain hotels. Chain hotels are like a kilometre-long oil tanker putting on the breaks to make a U-turn compared to a speedboat-like, independent hotel. If independent hotels make the change en masse, hotel chains will go out of business because they will change much too slowly, if at all.

Why would guests stay at a chain hotel when they can experience unconditional love and a special energy at an independent hotel for the same price or less? Moreover, can anyone even imagine any of the leading hotel groups deciding to change to energetic and spiritual heart-based hospitality? They are already charging off into the barren wilderness of contactless hospitality, it seems. Perhaps though, there are a few listening ears out there in the wilderness.

Mr. McAlpine Peter McAlpine is the Senior Consultant at Renaissance Consulting Ltd. in Bangkok. The company specializes in pre-opening 5-star hotels and resorts; in creating an energetic and strong guest experience, which he calls Heart-based Hospitality; and in upgrading hotels from the pervasive level of SOP-Customer Satisfaction. The company's strength lies in creating a guest experience that has a very warm energy and feeling, and which is strong in loving kindness, compassion, and heart-warming care. Mr. McAlpine has helped several hotels to win prestigious international awards, including World Travel Awards. More and more nowadays he is applying the same energetic principles and techniques to helping farmers in Africa. can be contacted at +66 827279273 or info@renaissanceconsultingltd.com Please visit http://www.hatsglobal.com for more information. Extended Biography

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You agree that we have the right, but not the obligation, to investigate any complaint received. By reserving this right, we do not undertake any responsibility in fact to investigate complaints or to remove, edit, disable or restrict access to or the availability of Content. We will not act on complaints that we believe, in our sole discretion, to be deficient, incomplete, or otherwise questionable. If you believe that Content remains on HotelExecutive which violates your rights, Your sole and exclusive remedy shall be against the user or other party responsible for said content, not against HotelExecutive. your sole and exclusive remedy against HotelExecutive shall be to terminate your use of HotelExecutive and service.

Digital Millennium Copyright Act Compliance. As set forth in Subsection (b), you must contact our agent if you believe that a work protected by a U.S. Copyright which you own has been posted on our Site without authorization or that our Site, in some material way, contributes to its infringement. It is our policy in appropriate circumstances, if possible, to terminate the access rights of repeat infringers and other users who use HotelExecutive in an inappropriate or objectionable manner.

9. COOPERATION WITH LAW ENFORCEMENT

HotelExecutive reserves the right to fully cooperate with any law enforcement authorities or court order requesting or directing HotelExecutive to disclose the identity or other information regarding any user or member alleged by any governmental entity to be using HotelExecutive or any Content or materials available in, at, through or in association with HotelExecutive in violation of any law or regulation, or in violation of this Agreement, including, without limitation, the posting of e-mail messages, or publishing or otherwise making available any such materials. By accepting this agreement you waive and hold harmless HotelExecutive from any claims resulting from any action by HotelExecutive during, or as a result of, its investigations, and from any actions taken as a consequence of investigations by either HotelExecutive or law enforcement authorities

10. APPLICABLE LAWS, VENUE, JURISDICTION & MANDATORY ARBITRATION

If any provision(s) of this Agreement is held by a court of competent jurisdiction to be contrary to law, then such provision(s) shall be construed, as nearly as possible, to reflect the intentions of the parties with the other provisions remaining in full force and effect. HotelExecutive's failure to exercise or enforce any right or provision of this Agreement shall not constitute a waiver of such right or provision unless acknowledged and agreed to by HotelExecutive in writing. The section titles in this Agreement are solely used for the convenience of the parties and have no legal or contractual significance. This Agreement may be assigned in whole or in part by HotelExecutive. This Agreement may not be assigned in any manner by you without the express, prior written permission of HotelExecutive.

Any and all disputes or controversies of any kind, including but not limited to any performance, duty, obligation or liability arising under or related to this Agreement which are not first resolved informally, shall be determined by binding arbitration in San Francisco, California, in accordance with the rules of the American Arbitration Association. The final award in any such arbitration proceeding shall be subject to entry as a judgment by any court or competent jurisdiction, provided that such judgment does not conflict with the terms and provisions hereof. The jurisdiction of the arbiter (or arbiters) with respect to legal matters shall be limited only by the statutory and common law of the State of California and the United States.

Notwithstanding the foregoing, any and all disputes, which the parties cannot informally resolve, regarding the scope of issues or matter with the jurisdiction of the arbitrator, shall be resolved by a separate dispute resolution process whereby HotelExecutive, in its sole discretion shall elect the dispute to be resolved by either (1) a court of competent jurisdiction in the State of California or (2) a panel of three new arbitrators.

This Agreement shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of the State of California notwithstanding any conflict of laws provisions. You and HotelExecutive agree that the venue for all legal disputes, controversies, actions of any kind arising under or related to this Agreement shall be San Francisco, California. You and HotelExecutive further agree that in case of any litigation regarding this Agreement, you irrevocably and unconditionally (i) consent to submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the state and federal courts in the County of San Francisco, California for any litigation or dispute arising out of or relating to this Agreement, (ii) agree not to commence any litigation arising out of or relating to this Agreement except in the California Courts, (iii) agree not to plead or claim that such litigation brought therein has been brought in an inconvenient forum, and (iv) agree the California Courts represent the exclusive jurisdiction for all litigation relating to this Agreement.

11. MEMBERSHIP FEES

Hotel Business Review Subscriptions

If you choose to purchase a subscription, member subscription payments can be made in U.S. Dollars, as well as a variety of international currencies. Membership terms are Annual Recurring, and Monthly Recurring. The Annual Recurring subscription is an annual commitment and subscribers will be charged each consecutive billing cycle. Annual Recurring subscriptions can be cancelled after the first billing cycle and within 30-days of the billing date for a full refund. Monthly Recurring subscriptions are ongoing and subscribers will be charged each consecutive monthly billing cycle. Monthly Recurring subscriptions can be cancelled after the first month and within 7 days of the monthly billing cycle for a full refund.

12. PAYMENT AUTHORIZATION

Payment for the services provided to you in, at, through or in association with HotelExecutive may be made by automatic credit card, debit card, direct debit, bankwire or Paypal and other approved payment means offered in, at, through or in association with HotelExecutive, and you hereby authorize HotelExecutive and its agents to transact such payments on your behalf.

You hereby authorize HotelExecutive's Internet Payment Service Provider to charge your credit card to pay for your membership to HotelExecutive. You further authorize HotelExecutive's Internet Payment Service Provider to charge your credit card for any and all purchases of products, services in association with HotelExecutive. You agree to be personally liable for all charges incurred by you in association with your access or other use of any content provided by HotelExecutive or any third party in association with HotelExecutive. You acknowledge and agree that your liability for all such charges shall continue after termination of your access or any type of membership arrangement with HotelExecutive.

In the event that you have chosen to have your membership automatically rebilled, unless and until you notify HotelExecutive that you wish to cancel or terminate your membership to HotelExecutive, you hereby agree and authorize HotelExecutive's Internet Payment Service Provider to automatically renew your membership to HotelExecutive on a continuing basis and to charge your credit card (or other payment means you have selected) to pay for the ongoing cost of your membership. You hereby further authorize HotelExecutive's Internet Payment Service Provider to charge your credit card (or other approved payment means you have selected) for any and all purchases of products, services and entertainment provided to in, at, through or in association with HotelExecutive.

13. PRIVACY POLICY

The following is the Privacy Policy for HotelExecutive

We can be reached via telephone, email, or online at our contact page. When you visit our site we do not log any information regarding your domain or email address. Information Sharing: We do not share user information with any third parties other than via press release distribution as described below.

Hotel Newswire is a newswire service that distributes press releases on behalf of our users. If you decide to submit a press release for distribution through our system we will transmit your entire press release including any personal information therein contained to our media contacts and online distribution points including search engines. This is the only redistribution of your information that we engage in. Your submission of press releases through our system indicates consent with this policy. The information we collect during your registration process is used to notify users about updates to our service and inform users of any special events hosted by Hotel Newswire. This information is not shared with other organizations for commercial or non-commercial purposes.

Cookies: Our system requires the use of cookies to enable the user to log back into our website to access information from the newswire, without having to log in each time using the required username and password.

If you do not want to receive email from us in the future, please let us know by following instructions included in our communication with you. Users who supply us with telephone numbers online may receive telephone contact from us regarding their account, or informing them of new products and services available on the HotelExecutive website. If you do not wish to receive such telephone calls, please edit your account and remove your phone number from your account profile. This can be done from your user account menu.

Ad Servers: We do not partner with or have any relationship with any ad server companies. From time to time, we may use customer information for new uses not previously disclosed in our privacy notice. If our information practices change at any time, we will post the policy changes to our website to notify you of these changes and provide you with the ability to opt out of these new uses. If you are concerned about how your information is used, you should check back at our website periodically.

Upon request we provide site visitors with access to all information (including proprietary information) that we maintain about them. Users can access this information by logging in to their account.

Security: We always use industry-standard encryption technologies while transferring and receiving user data exchanged with our site. We have appropriate security measures in place in our physical facilities to protect against the loss, misuse, or alteration of information that we have collected from you on our site. We do not store credit card information in our systems.

If you feel that this site is not following its stated information policy, you may contact us.

Robert O'Halloran
Eugenio Pirri
Jamie Sterling
Ahmad Ouri
Michael Blake
Darrell Schuurman
Alan E. Young
Linchi Kwok Ph.D.
Fred Lounsberry
Coming up in May 2021...

Eco-Friendly Practices: Now More Than Ever

One theory about the pandemic states that future viruses are more likely to originate and flourish due to global warming. If true, the urgency to accelerate the adoption of eco-friendly practices is greater than ever. Of course, there are many other reasons to create a sustainable operation, including reduced utility costs, savings on operational costs, healthier and happier guests and employees, and positive publicity, marketing and community goodwill. Many hotels are introducing innovative programs into their operations - from recycling bins in guest rooms to starting a roof top garden. Other hotels are using eco-friendly cleaning products, reusing towels and sheets, sourcing locally grown food, supporting the use of electric vehicles, and permitting guests to refill their reusable water bottles with clean, filtered water. Finally, some hotels are encouraging guests to get involved by making it possible for them to participate in local community clean-up projects. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.