Travelling the world used to bring sacrifice with it. For many it meant foregoing human contact for weeks, if not months, on a journey to find one’s self. Now armed with smartphones that sacrifice is no more.
It’s no surprise that smartphones come a close second to toilet paper on a list of things travellers couldn’t live without. Don’t get too bogged down with that thought. For some bright thinkers it provides a way to meet even more people, like Daniel Beaumont, a plucky Brit who travelled across North America for free by using Tinder.
Daniel is an example of what travel website Skift calls the ‘silent traveller’. Step into a hotel lobby and you’ll see an army of people shunning human interaction in favour of their smartphones. Smartphones beat serendipity when meeting new people. Why creepily approach someone in a hotel lobby when you can vet their vital statistics in private beforehand?
This gets interesting for hotels when facilitating guest experiences. Gone are the days of organised hotel drinks, replaced by in-hotel networking apps like LobbyFriend that make meeting new people less awkward and - to the silent traveller at least - more natural.
Adapting to this demographic will take a new kind of thinking. Brands like the Conrad by Hilton are getting it right with their app that allows you to access hotel services without speaking to anyone. While service with a smile will always exist, it’s now time to put service with a smartphone first. If you are relying on regular on face-to-face interaction you may well be alienating some guests.