Does technology have a place in hospitality?

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UNLV's Hospitality Hall located by the CBC building on campus. Photo by Jordan Anders-McClain.

As technology advances, it has begun to break barriers and revolutionize different labor markets, making them more efficient and sometimes safer for humans. However, it has been pushing into industries, like hospitality, where for decades, people have valued interpersonal connections and customer service. 

With that being said, does technology have a place in the hospitality industry? 

Well, it depends on who you are asking. Patrick Boyd, a retired Lead Organizer of Las Vegas’s very own Culinary Union and a present Director of the International Union of UNITE HERE, offered his thoughts.

“I am not against technology advancing into the workplace when it protects humans from danger, but in an industry where the main goal is people connection. Why are we trying to move away from that?”

Utilizing technology in the hospitality industry could potentially take jobs away from several Las Vegas locals. Many people come to Las Vegas and get a job on the Strip, with jobs like serving, cleaning or even dealing as a way to provide for their families. 

About 10-20 years ago, front desk jobs were everywhere, but are now drying up as they have been replaced with online/mobile check-ins and checkouts. Replacing them with a machine may seem more effective and convenient, but leads to a shriveling job market. 

“In organizing, we have a saying,” said Boyd. “If we open the door just a crack, the company is going to keep pushing it open until the door is off the hinges. A little bit today will be a little more tomorrow, and more every other day until there is no door left. I could see places where it could be beneficial, but we just can’t risk that.”

For those such as Boyd, who have been in the industry for over 20 years, there have been both advances and downfalls technology in the industry, resulting in a negative reception from some. However, not everyone feels that way, and some people believe that technology advances the field, especially in this day and age. 

When asking Darian Fluker, a hospitality student at UNLV, her response was more hopeful for the integration of technology in the industry.

“The use of technology in the field offers innovation for the field,” said Fluker. “When using it to accommodate customers and communications among departments to aid customers, it is amazing. However, we must remember the goal of hospitality is for people to be first, so if it is replacing that human experience, then that becomes an issue. Hospitality is a people-first industry, not an IT help desk.”

Whether or not technology belongs in industries like hospitality, it is continuously making advances in the field as newer smartphones, apps and even robots are currently being developed. If not now, then when will we draw the line?

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