The HumanTouch

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The world of hotels has undergone a sea change in the past decade. Many of those transformations have been fuelled by the ebbs and flows of the economic cycle as well as what’s happening within the travel sector. Now a survey by Capital One Aspire Travel shows just how frustrated Canadians can be with today’s state of travel. According to the recent survey by the credit-card company, taken just as 2010 was drawing to a close, one in four Canadians expects to experience some form of travel mishap or inconvenience before they even begin to travel. And, if you live in Atlantic Canada, you’re even more concerned (34 per cent) than Quebecers (21 per cent). While the majority of Canadians find these mishaps frustrating (60 per cent), a solid number (21 per cent) found their experience to be humorous, proving that some Canadians remain good natured and content to make the best of a bad situation.

Still, as headlines continue to focus on evolving passport regulations and the continuing saga about carry-on baggage — not to mention the highly controversial and invasive airport body scans — it’s clear that, for many of us, travel has lost much of its appeal. Certainly, while the most noted travel mishaps continue to be spurred by bad weather (59 per cent), travel delays (48 per cent), lost luggage (28 per cent) and uncomfortable/dirty accommodations (38 per cent), the survey shows that by the time Canadian travellers reach their destinations, they will have dealt with more than their fair share of bad experiences.

Such news doesn’t bode well for hotel operators and staff who are a disgruntled traveller’s final port of call. Certainly, it underscores the importance of ensuring a fluid and seamless check-in process and a hotel stay that is as pleasant and stress-free as possible.

And, while technology is one of the biggest trends impacting the industry, it’s shortsighted to believe hoteliers should address it as a key trend at the risk of other, equally, if not more important considerations. It’s a lesson the travel industry is slowly learning. For example, although a recent survey undertaken by American Express indicates more than half of business travellers prefer to book their travel online (55 per cent), giving credibility to the importance of changing technology; it also shows that 46 per cent are more likely to turn to an agent when plans change on the fly, which reveals what the company calls an emerging demand for service options that offer the best of online and offline service.

Undoubtedly the tentacles of technology have firmly taken hold over our lives; increasingly we live in an app world, where hype and buzz drive so many of
our decisions. In short order, the industry has morphed, given credence to tech toys such as pay-per-view and video-on-demand; and more hotel-wide changes
are on the horizon, including smartphones that can activate door locks. Clearly the hotel industry’s movers and shakers must keep their properties current. On
the other hand, as we move further afield into new vistas and new platforms, the one constant we can always rely on is the power of the human touch.

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