Does Guest History Interfere with Guest Privacy?

As a hospitality professional, I understand the importance of “Guest History” for hotels and restaurants. Hotels and restaurants want to remember the special requests of their guests and the guests’ anniversaries, especially those of VIPs or repeat guests. Hospitality companies are doing that, not because they are nosy, but because they want to be hospitable and welcome the guests by addressing their special needs and celebrating the special dates for guests. For example, hotels may send a small setup or a cake to the room where a guest spends a birthday; restaurants can make sure that they do not serve anything cooked with peanut oils if they know a guest is allergy to peanuts (Cantonese use peanut oils for cooking).

As a customer, when you are staying in a hotel or dine in a restaurant, would you like being recognized and called by your last name? Being greeted with a sincere smile? Would you also like your servers to anticipate your needs? Know your preferences so that you do not need to repeat what you want again and again?

To ensure that the staff “knows” their guests, hotels and restaurants maintain guest records in Guest History, a software or a file that is used to record and track guest preferences and personal information, but normally, hotels and restaurants do not share any guest information with a third party. They keep the information only because they want to treat their guests right and make them feel special. Then hopefully, the guests will enjoy their stays or dining experience better. They will remember the business and brand, recommend the business and brand to others, and come back in the future. What’s wrong with the idea of using Guest History to provide exceptional guest experience to customers?

While the importance of Guest History was discussed, this Wall Street Journal video brought up a question of whether such practice by hotels or restaurants would interfere with the guests’ privacy. Seriously?!

Will people feel better if they are treated like a stranger? Would they rather repeat their preferences every time when they check in to a hotel or dine in a restaurant? If people must keep their personal information as a top secret, had they better never reveal any personal information to anyone in any place under any circumstance? There is no such thing as absolute safe place for data processing or storage in this world. Where shall we draw the line here? I would LOVE to hear your opinions!

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