Anyone who has visited a Disney Park knows that it is all about the experience created.. It all starts off at the cash register with the music you hear, and continues as you recognize the costumes and the animated cartoon figures walking around like they stepped right out of the movies. Everything contributes to the atmosphere that Walt Disney in his own words describes as magical. Moreover, the park is always trying new ways to further optimize the visitor’s experience. For example, it is now possible to skip the waiting lines for popular attractions by purchasing a fast-pass that allows you to enter the attraction at a time of your own choosing.
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Can hospitality be automated?
It all appears to be human handiwork. However, the experience and the constant wow-feeling are partly made possible by technology. The question is, which part of the experience can be provided through means of software and when does the human factor remain indispensable?
The same question applies to the reception desks in office buildings. Many organizations make hospitality—giving a guest the feeling that he or she is welcome—a high priority. This generally starts off with a warm greeting from the receptionist and sometimes ends with the offer of some fruit or a bottle of water. To quote one example, in many financial institutions the traditional receptionist has been replaced by a host.
The digital, unmanned reception desk
Receiving guests seems like a human task; but this can be done differently as well. A recent development is the unmanned reception desk. Some offices now use walls on which visitor information is projected, or kiosks where a visitors can register on their own. Some systems can even issue visitor passes, allowing the visitor to continue on through the building on his or her own. Furthermore, instead of a receptionist registering a visitor and informing the host of thearrival, automated licence plate recognition technology can be used at the entrance instead. When a guest has registered in advance, it is possible to send a message automatically to the host once his or her license plate has been recognized upon arrival..
The major benefit of an automated reception process is that a digital reception desk can easily handle busy peaks. An example of this is the online check-in for a flight, after which a traveller only needs to hand in their baggage, avoiding the need to stand in a long line. This process also requires less physical contact, is faster and more efficient, and prevents irritation due to long waiting lines. These automated reception processes could yield benefits particularly in large office buildings that house multiple organizations.
Automating the reception process does not mean that a guest will feel less welcome. This depends on various factors, such as the type of organization and what it potentially has to gain by automating the reception process. Whatever the choice, one process does not have to preclude another. On the other hand, it is important—regardless of choice—for the visitor to have an optimal visiting experience.
Work will always be work and will never come close to the experience offered by an amusement park. However, with a little bit of Disney magic, a short visit to the office can be transformed into a genuine, great experience.