Being of a certain age, I don’t think I could ever be considered trendy any more. The fact I even use the word “trendy” probably makes me sound horribly old. But then, what is a trend anyway?
I was fascinated to hear the Corinthia hotel in London has partnered with The Future Laboratory, whose talks and presentations – including some at our own events – have given me many thought-provoking insights over the years. They will be “futurists in residence” at the Corinthia, and it’s great to see a luxury hotel both hold itself up to scrutiny, and take a lead in trendsetting.
In luxury travel, the tendency has always been to hold onto tradition, to assume an older clientele would always want things done “just so” and to revel in heritage and not challenge the status quo. While that’s all very laudable, we do have to move with the times as well.
Although some hot new trends do seem to conflict with long-held luxury service beliefs. Amazon Go, for example, is now positioning itself as a high-end grocer with a ‘grab and go’ ethos, where one scan from your Amazon account as you walk in allows you to then browse the aisles, pick up whatever you need and walk out, without ever speaking to a human.
That’s apparently what people want: convenience, recognition, range, simplicity. But what people also surely want is communication that is both effective and emotional – rather than the unhelpful and lacklustre interactions we’re so often faced with.
Despite a fear of automation and robots taking over the world, many humans fail to realise the only real difference between us and them will be empathetic ability. This is what hoteliers, retailers and travel companies have to play with. Invest in product, sure, but keep investing in people more. That’s a trend that will never die.