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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!

Comments

  1. I believe this is an extremely interesting topic. The Wall Street Journal poses great ideas and points. While it might not be the most attractive situation to think about…Say someone is visiting a hotel for an affair as most do commonly take place in hotels. If someone were to call out to me, “Hello Mrs. Rosencrans” it would not only make me feel extremely uncomfortable but also could pose problems in other ways (in that particular situation).
    On the flip side, having a hotel staff member greet you by name makes you not only feel special but also feel as though you are more at home than a hotel. I can say from personal experience I much prefer being greeted and knowing the staff well as opposed to slipping under the radar being treated like a stranger every time I stay at the same hotel. I believe it enhances ones stay to be personally greeted etc. but that is MY opinion.
    The reason this topic is so interesting, just as Prof. Kwok mentioned is because it is so opinion based and situational. After thinking a lot about the topic and watching the video a few times I can’t say I have come to a general conclusion of what I think a hotel should do. I believe it is a guest’s preference and a guests right to have their privacy but also be given the greatest deal of hospitality. So I will have to agree with Prof. Kwok on this one! It is a confusing matter that only each person can answer for themselves.

    Sarah Rosencrans

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  2. This topic has extremely convincing evidence on both sides of the argument. Personally, I would really appreciate if the hotel that I was staying knew my name and small details that make my stay more comfortable. This would make me feel much more comfortable and most likely make me remember the establishment as a cut above the rest. However, I can definitely understand how people who are more private and like to keep to themselves would feel uncomfortable or put off if staff knew their history. I agree with Sarah as well, I think that it is all about personal preference which is what the hospitality industry is all about. Some people would love to be treated as if their hotel staff knew them and made it a personal experience, but others prefer to be in and out without that sort of attention.

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  3. Im just curious on how long are they keeping the record? And it is possible to track down people just by asking the desk counter

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