This Thing Called “Hospitality”

Do you ever wonder how we existed before online travel agents? You know all the travel sites that end with .com? What did we do when we wanted to book a hotel room? Who did we call? How did we choose? Was it word of mouth? Brand familiarity? Sales? Deals?

20 years ago I was fortunate enough to work at the front desk of a large brand. They had a loyalty program that started at basic and plateaued with diamond. If you were invited by the president or general manager you were labeled a black level member. Each level had specific perks based on the number of stays accumulated in a calendar year. People were nice. Service was important. The golden rule actually worked both ways.

Guest reached out to travel agents (people) who booked rooms for them with hotels that did not necessarily give a great rate but was known for service and the style said guest was accustomed to. There were corporations who had administrative assistants and travel departments that made arrangements and acquired negotiated rates. Travelers both business and leisure were happy and satisfied. (Nice) Then 911 happened and we entered a hospitality world that demanded that we do MORE, BETTER, WITH LESS.

We welcomed our online channels as they were keeping hotels afloat. Properties went from 20% reservations being booked online to 60% of them being booked online. At some point during all of this, we forgot how to be human to one another. The word hospitality and service have now become bastardized by travelers who are not respectful of the human being on the other side of the desk there to service them. The training programs have become obsolete and the people behind the desk are working jobs and not necessarily interested in a career. How are we to turn the page from this dilemma? How do we bring back the passion on both sides?