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Computers Can’t Change The Sheets People Will Always Provide The Heart In The Hospitality Industry

Wed., June 5, 1996, midnight

Even the computer technology of tomorrow won’t be a match for a good concierge, hotel managers predict.

A survey of hospitality industry leaders worldwide found 88 percent believe technology will allow better delivery of products and services.

“But the majority of respondents indicated that you can’t take the ‘host’ out of hospitality, as 87 percent agreed that human beings are still the key to delivering high quality service,” said Roger Cline, worldwide director of hospitality consulting services for Arthur Andersen.

The survey by Arthur Andersen and New York University was sent to 4,000 industry professionals. About 500 surveys were returned from the Americas, Europe, the Middle East, India, Africa and Asia/Pacific.

Preliminary findings from the survey, titled “Hospitality 2000: A View to the Next Millennium” predict hotels will form alliances with technology-related companies to bring guests advanced services.

“This can range from interactive television for ordering room service, maid service or making dinner reservations to computer links to access stock prices and brokers, shop in the hotel’s virtual store or order your favorite author’s latest novel sent over from the hotel’s affiliate book store,” Cline said.

Hotel managers said they expect to reconfigure rooms to meet the needs of business travelers, providing workspace, modem lines and printers, but only a third of the respondents believe that resorts will benefit from the new flexibility that technology is providing.

The real growth is expected to come in the number of people traveling for leisure.

“The Asia/Pacific region was even more emphatic about growth in leisure travel, selecting it by a 10 to one margin over growth in business travel,” said Lalia Rach, dean of NYU’s School of Continuing Education Center for Hospitality, Tourism and Travel Administration. In Europe, the Middle East, Africa and India, the respondents selected leisure two to one over business travel growth, she said.

She predicted a blurring of the distinction between business and leisure travel, “especially as people take home offices with them.”

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