This could be generational, but in the same way that it’s no longer optional for hotels to exercise green practices, it’s no longer optional for hotels to embrace email as a preferred method of communication. I understand the hesitation – there’s a fear that a true personal connection is lost when communicating exclusively by email. That may well have been true when email was simply fashionable. But now that email is the most dominant method of communication in history, and clearly here to stay, those who believe no personal connections can be made electronically are simply in denial.
And here’s the irrational leap that Gen-Y workers, and other adapters across the generations may make. If your hotel continues to phone first, or phones when the client has only emailed to that point, or phones when it would be far more expeditious to email, or phones simply to initiate some voice contact, I will make the assumption that your hotel is not renovated, that it’s layered in brown tile and wood paneling, that there are no flat screen TVs to be found.
It’s not a fair leap at all. The point is – the telephone is an old fashioned way to communicate. I refute anyone who says it’s not possible to make a personal connection via email. There are people I call friends, even close friends, whose voice I haven’t heard in many moons, but to whom I feel entirely close. The same goes for many of my clients and hotel partners.
Do not think of me as antisocial. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, there’s no type of communication I value more than the face-to-face interaction. I will instruct any hotel sales person – if you can get an in-person appointment with one of your clients, it’s the equivalent of twenty telephone conversations. Grab it! But the next layer of communication is not the phone – it’s email. With email, you have my undivided attention, but on my schedule. I will respond to every email – even solicitation emails – when I’m able. I can’t say the same for voicemails. If I spent even two minutes on the phone with every hotel that I’m engaged with today, I’d need a week each day to field the calls.
The telephone has devolved into a rather unnatural form of communication. From business to dating – it’s becoming antiquated at a rapid rate. What faces is the person making on the other end of the phone line? What emails is he or she reading while we’re talking? Where have I caught them since I’ve assuredly reached their cell phone? Are they driving? Crossing the street? Dare I suggest in the bathroom?
Phone calls may continue to regress where it literally becomes an invasion of privacy. Emails can never interrupt. Emails don’t come at the wrong time because they come on my time. Emails don’t put people on the spot. Emails don’t catch me off guard. And most importantly, emails are on record.
How many times have I had a fifteen minute phone conversation with a hotel about important concessions and contractual terms for one of my clients where I’ve closed our chat with, “And would you mind sending me an email with all of those details?” If I don’t, where’s the accountability? Who recorded what we’ve discussed? Don’t I owe it to my clients to make sure I understand the hotel correctly?
For a host of reasons, hotels must trust email not so much as a supplement to the phone, but inevitably as the phone’s replacement.