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Technology and Cultural Equality (by Jenny Tung)

In today’s society, technology is a must for everyone, especially for the millennials. Some trends in the hospitality industry come and go in a short period of time, but others stay for a while. Some of the trends I want to take a closer look at today, which I believe will affect sales in this industry, include a business’ ability to incorporate technology to what they offer and increasing cultural equality awareness. 

Technology is one example. Today, many travelers use mobile apps to check-in and check-out in hotels. Some restaurants now offer guests the payment options via kiosks that are placed right at each table. Nowadays, payments can even be transferred among different mobile devices in a blink of eyes. It is amazing how much technology has come this far, and it will only become more important. However, a question arises: while technology is convenient, will it ultimately bring down consumers'  overall experience with a hospitality business?

Innovative technologies allow hotels to connect with their customers online. In today's society, consumers expect consistent connectivity with their devices. Some hotels even incorporate the use of iPads in room service. It may seem the Millennials who actively engage in social media would prefer to stay connected online even when they are having a vacation in a hotel or dining in a restaurant, but how much is too much?

Personally, I have had experiences with technologies. One time, my friends or family and I went out to eat.  As soon as we sat down, I noticed everyone began immersing in their own world with their cellphones. I looked around the room, and I even found some couples who were going on dates but doing the same thing: looking at their mobile devices instead of trying to get to know each other. 

In hotels, travelers suffer just about the same problem. Instead of enjoying the experience, they now try to live their moments through their camera lens, taking videos and pictures of everything but ultimately missing the experience as they were so focused on getting the perfect shot or perfect video. While being technology savvy is good, sometimes we really need to just live in the moment and enjoy what is in front of us, rather than trying to document everything and posting everything on social media.

Ultimately, technology is a double edged sword. When looking at it in a positive light, if it is incorporated effectively, it will definitely help a business generate more sales and provide better customer service. In a negative light, however, there is also the possibility of decreasing the value of one's experience, specially when s/he becomes too absorbed in her/his own technological world. 

Jenny Tung +Cal Poly Pomona 
Another trend I would like to discuss is increasing cultural equality awareness. Now that more and more people are supporting same-sex marriages, hotels and restaurants have new clients to appeal to. Marriott, for example, has already created a campaign to attract more same-sex couples to stay in their hotels. Fair and equal treatment to all customers is something businesses should always strive for. Likewise, it is just too arbitrary to use one’s sexuality or religion as the reason to deny service in a restaurant. The problem is, cultural and religious tensions could rise as a result of equality and thus jeopardize sales in businesses that are located in certain areas with more conservative views. Then, if a business wants to appeal to certain groups, how can they ensure it satisfies the consumers with an open mindset and those with a more conservative views? Maybe, it can't. Unfortunately, there are still restaurants that deny service because of a customer's sexual orientation or preferences. There is way to go to achieve the real cultural equality. 

About the Author

Jenny Tung is a junior in Hospitality Management with an emphasis in Restaurant Management. She is a Collins Ambassador, representing the Collins College of Hospitality, and she is a member of the National Society for Minorities in Hospitality. Besides school, Jenny volunteers at events with the California Restaurant Association Educational Foundation (CRAEF) as a ProStart alumna.

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