I have a copy of Monocle’s Guide to Hotels, Inns and Hideaways sitting on my desk and I love flipping through it. There’s something magical about a great hotel. Part of that magic is intrinsic — it’s just a good hotel. And part of it is the fact that we’re probably all a bit more open to new experiences when we travel. Our mindset changes.
On the first of January, I wrote (briefly) about two recent experiences where I was no longer required to interact with a person in order to check into a hotel. It was all done electronically. Some of you followed up and asked: “Do you think this is a good thing? Don’t you miss the human connection?”
My response was that I think it is inevitable. There is a long history of technology/automation replacing human jobs. We used to have elevator operators. Now we don’t. We used to have people shoveling coal into furnaces. Now we don’t. And I think that’s okay. We created different jobs. The same is likely to happen with Uber/Lyft drivers.
At the same time, our need for human connections isn’t going away. One of the best features of a great hotel is the bar. Whether it’s sitting at the bar and talking with the bartender or meeting someone new, those moments of interaction will always remain precious.
And it’s one of the reasons why, I think, platforms such as Airbnb haven’t meant the demise of hotels. Part of it has to do with the service offerings and consistency of a good hotel. But part of it also has to do with our desire to be around other humans. In the words of Monocle: “There’s something about a hotel bar that captures our collective imagination.”