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Let’s assume we would live in a world where digitalization and robotization has taken over from any human activity and relation and for the sake of allowing the visualization of the impact it would have on the hotel industry, let’s pretend that this 100% computerized, non-human reality would only apply to hotels:

  • Reservation of your stay via current distribution channels
  • Management of any changes to your booking using on-line tools and confirmation of your changes by E-Jane or E-Charly, validated by E-Boss
  • Arrival at the hotel through proper GPS guidance and virtual signage, allowing your self-driving car to find a free parking space on or off the premises.
  • One of the 10’000 Welbots of the destination/city – charged automatically on a need base to the hotel – will be waiting for you at the free parking space (it is connected to the GPS system and had enough time to roll to the place at his amazing 2.5km/h). It will greet you with a beautiful poetic sentence representing all the values of your hotel. A voice recognition system will allow the voice used to switch automatically to your language – this is an extra feature, which was developed by hospitality consultants one year ago to improve service level, since your booking details did not guarantee that it would really be YOU driving the car and getting off the car. The face recognition feature is another addition, which apparently in this case was not considered as relevant, maybe due to disappearing empathy levels. Only one Swiss German dialect is available – it is considered that all Swiss Germans will be fine with Züridütsch. This decision was taken by BigData, the latest self-nominated super AI.
  • The Welbot – let’s call it/him/her “Oty” – will off-load your luggage put it on a trolley and guide you directly to your room. During the trip – remember the 2.5km/h velocity – Oty will give you plenty of information about the lovely stay you booked: one night, no breakfast, arrival at midnight, departing at 6am. As you forgot to read the E-Jane/Charly confirmation, you are very happily listening to Oty, since you have nothing else to do anyhow.
  • When walking through the lobby you will cross many Otys, all busy delivering the services humanoids like you, called guests, will require to have a memorable stay. You feel like living in the “The Beauty and the Beast” but these ones do not talk to each other, forget the singing and the dancing. The elevator will automatically come to your floor, open the doors, welcome you…not Oty…and elevate the two of you to the correct floor.
  • You will use your phone to open the door of your room – Oty could do it for you but the hotel wants you to feel at home with the capacity to control your choices, since ultimately Oty knows that without you/the guest he/she/it will not receive any monthly maintenance check.
  • At booking you took the package “leave me alone”, therefore Oty puts the luggage on the luggage rack and leaves you alone, wishing you sweet dreams.
  • The presence recognition system switches the lights on and off automatically in the room. This is a nice feature making you feel like in a ghost house. There is no more television since all your devices are connected to the HyperHighSpeedInternet system available in your country providing you access to what you want to see and listen to.
  • All hotel services are open 24hours and you have a drink at the bar, where you meet somebody you haven’t seen for years. Barty helps both of you remember the exact date you met last time, serving you the same drink without asking and playing the same music. How romantic! Your current personal tastes are not being asked for and you start arguing with Barty. He has the patience and the time for him/her/it, you haven’t. You let go! Let’s have this dull drink even if you feel like having a strong double whisky. Let’s listen to this oldie classic, it is not so bad after all…but not want you want!

I could go on and on like this for pages and define a plausible future for the hotel industry. The future described here is actually closer to realistic than to plausible. All technical solutions exist already, AI has the capacity to take decisions by itself based on past behaviors, facts, statistics, encompassing customer preferences, history. Creating a story where all customer touch-points are described as managed by AI, makes this realistic future feel strange, funny maybe for some, but definitely not “desirable”, at least for me. But I am old already. Will it be appealing to the next generations, after the Millennials?

Some hotel players will consider embracing this future and defending it. They will even find a customer base for it. But this type of future would lead to areas of discomfort for our industry, the people industry par excellence. “By people for people”, to paraphrase one famous Brand motto. Will this all go into shambles or will we have multi-tier industry, with high-tech no-touch, high-tech high-touch and no-tech high-touch being offered at the same time?

Come and find out from world experts what they have to say about these sensible topics of “High-Tech vs High-Touch” and Digitalization, join W2F 2018 think tank on 30th April and you will also have the opportunity to share your views about it and challenge the audience further.

SEE you in Lausanne…yes this one will be high-touch!

All the best

About the Author


André Mack Director at Lausanne Hospitality Consulting SA

André has an extensive career in the in-flight catering industry and specialized in the areas of customer service and business process re-engineering.

He is both Director, Lausanne Hospitality Consulting, and faculty member, Ecole hoteliere de Lausanne, lecturing on project management and consulting. André facilitated seminars on product development, strategic resilience, branding and customer service strategies within the hospitality industry. The consulting mandates in operational and quality auditing of hospitality business units, re-engineering of management and operational processes, project management for hotels new builds, strategic business analysis, as well as the development of hospitality learning centers, have allowed him to touch base in New York, Sydney and many countries between these two destinations.

Andre is an alumnus of HSG (University of St. Gallen) and of Ecole hoteliere de Lausanne. He speaks French, German and English, mixing it up sometimes with the various Swiss German dialects.

Besides walking with his two children and his wife, Andre appreciates particularly good food, good wine and the unique atmosphere of a Swiss chalet with its chimney fire.