4 - Between hospitality and comfort, I choose hospitality
Do you know the difference between hospitality and comfort? Hospitality means welcoming people, seeing them, understanding what they really need. Comfort is a way of reassuring them and... keeping them happy: the bare minimum.
You will have understood how I feel about the current trend in the hospitality industry, hotel or otherwise, of using electronic keys, codes, smart locks, apps and other similar devilry to "simplify" check-in and check-out procedures.
On the surface, they are a good thing: they simplify, they are convenient and they save time for the client and the host. Especially for the host, who doesn't have to go back and forth ten times a day.
But then you get carried away. Some of my colleagues are so busy trying to save time and effort, that they almost don't do the welcome (as I understand it, see above) anymore: this is the code, good morning and good evening. And sometimes not even that: they send you the code directly via Whatsapp. When they're not forcing you to go halfway around the lake (and the one on Lake Garda is pretty big...) just to pick up the key at the arrival and departure points.
In short: they reduce everything to mere bureaucracy. But then the customer is no longer a customer but a number. It reminds me of a factory farm; or an assembly line. Alienating, isn't it?
It's not a way of welcoming people that I like. Moreover, I find it boring and repetitive; not at all rewarding. And there is nothing worse than doing an unrewarding job.
And since I have chosen this job, I don't want it to become a routine or a chore to be done in the shortest possible time.
Mind you, I have also equipped myself with a key box. It's a good way of freeing me from a task and giving maximum freedom to the client, allowing me to be flexible in my approach (comfort, remember?): if it's convenient for him to arrive at midnight, why not? And it's not as if at midnight one wants to listen to the host explaining how this and that works.
But you can be sure that the next morning he will find me waiting for him with a welcome drink, ready to answer his questions, advise him on what to do and what to see, tell him anecdotes and give him information on history, traditions, local places and flavours.
As you can see, it's a completely different approach (which is a bit of my pride): I make sure I'm always there, because I know that even when you're on holiday it's nice to have someone in the flesh to turn to if you need to.
Otherwise it becomes difficult, if not impossible, to connect with the guest. And host them, in the full sense of the term.
Automatic procedures are convenient, but they risk making everything cold and soulless. Which is the opposite of a holiday, as I see it.
P.S. From 16 to 19 June I will be in Bergamo at the BIKE UP fair to present the Toscolano Maderno Diffused Hospitality project, which I devised together with four enlightened colleagues. Come and visit us: we will give you a special Fair Discount for the next season and you can discover all the conventions we have activated with local companies to better enjoy the products of our territory.