Hospitality and Technology – A Modern Day Oxymoron

When I do hospitality training sessions, I inquire from my audience if they believe that hospitality, by definition, is warm, personal, engaging guest service. Invariably, the answer is a resounding YES. I then tell my audience that every one of them owns a device that is the least hospitable thing there is and that every one of them holds in their possession the antithesis of hospitality… their cell phone.

Technology has invented a device whereby you can be in a crowded room. But, by staring at your cell phone, you can be in your own little cocoon. Most people these days, when they find themselves in a social situation that they’re not comfortable with, immediately pull out their cell phone and become the busiest person in the room. I personally am guilty of this myself.

How many of you remember life before the cell phone? In so many ways, it made life so much easier because it enabled people to be much more personally interactive. Heck, I would just like to go back to the time when the cell phone was a phone because, nowadays, most people don’t even answer their cell phone. I love when I call someone’s cell phone and I get their voicemail that states “For a faster response, text me.” At what point did texting someone become faster than talking to them?

A few months ago, I got a text from my partner in New York with the message “Call me.” I texted him back, “No.” So what did he do? He immediately called me. When I answered the phone, he said, “Dude, why did you reply “NO” to my text?” I said, “Joe, help me to understand something. You wanted to talk to me, you had your phone in your hand, you didn’t call me, but instead texted me. What’s up with that?” He said “I didn’t know if you’d be busy.” I replied, “Wouldn’t you have found that information out of you had called me as well?”

The next time someone texts me and says “Call me,” I’m going to call them back and, when they answer, I’m going to say “Text me” and hang up.

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