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Connecting in hurried times.
April 17, 2014

A lot is being written about the advances being made in technology. There was a time when you heard heroes and villains in cinema halls. Today that has changed. You can hear silly ring tones and lying children fobbing off their loved ones as to where they really are. Technology was meant to aid. Today it intrudes. There was a measure of delight when the old bearer at your favorite club or hotel remembered how exactly you liked your rum and coke. Today it forms part of some impersonal guest profile, which means you will still be asked if you wish to have a rum and coke even though you may have given up alcohol for aeons. There was a time when we wrote letters to romance and sent out cards to invite people. There was an uncanny delight that we took in pasting stamps on envelopes. Today we have pre-programmed messages on our hand phones which wish people on their birthdays; condole deaths and even send out dinner invitations. In a manner we have enhanced the pace of connectivity but in the whole advancement per se, we have lost a bit of the soul and that to my mind is something we need to worry.

Then there is the real paradigm of declining job loyalty. Which means you may never see the same concierge or the front office manager who was always there when you were checking in. Hotels across the world face an attrition rate of almost 35%, which means every year you, can expect a churn, which will leave only the computer to remember your needs and no human beings. Where will all of this lead to? I guess, in some strange way we will begin attaching a premium on human endeavor all over again because there is a silent revolution taking place against technology replacing touch and the art of connecting and remaining connected slowly dying out. This will be the real challenge that will face hotels and the services businesses alike. Recently when Kingfisher Airlines launched the ‘clean your spectacles’ service, the consumer delight was palpable because here was an airline that had trained it’s staff to care beyond the expected and that to my mind is the core of any meaningful connection as it were.

There are certain realities that are seeping in precisely because we live in hurried times. The smallest touches make the greatest impact. Some fine hotels in New York are touting the fact that their elevators are manned as an important consumer discriminator. And rightly so. We are human beings. We are born into families and not into bubbles. We need to be amongst people. The fact that today networking sites are a rage is not because they allow us to live vicariously but because they help us stay connected with a multitude of people who may be in different continents. It is this desire to stay connected that fuels such web stickiness. This is what drives us in these hurried times. Familiarity is what we seek in all that we do. Loyalty clubs are more than redemption for unheard of rewards. They are clusters that allow us to belong and it is this that every consumer will seek more and more. The jargon that hotels often use is consumer recognition. The simple logic is that people wish to be connected all the time, which is why there is a fear of losing that vehicle so aptly called technology, and recognition tools only help consumers rest in the belief that they are in a world where people are connecting the dots as far as they are concerned. It is more of a relief than just a great marketing device.

I am observing this desire to stay connected in all that is floating around us. Socially, we have become more and more active: one would have thought with people traveling and being busy this would reduce but it has not. More and more people are traveling than they ever were. There is a desire to remain connected to even what is deemed the unfamiliar world. All this because the human hunger for being part of a greater world is on the ascendant. This is evident even in corporate behavior. I do not see acquisitions as a globalization strategy alone. I see it as a corporation fueling the need for its brands and products to touch more and more people. To connect with more user groups.

I truly believe that with book sales on the rise, with more and more people becoming fine mall-rats; with the outdoors becoming tools of rest and motivation, there is a greater desire amongst men and women today to connect with that would have otherwise been a hostile and unknown world, It is this desire that will allow more and more marketers to create products and services that help and enhance this experience of being connected. In many ways, this magazine is a poignant reminder that people want to read not just to expand their minds but also to touch parts and messages they would have otherwise never done. It is this experience of connections and connecting that modern man needs to cherish.

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