When was the last time you checked the news? An hour ago? Thirty seconds ago? Nobody can blame you. Things change fast, and there’s always something new to learn. The power to be connected to global events, in real time, is a miracle of the modern age.
Plus, as hospitality professionals, there are advantages to being in the know. Current events affect travel patterns, economic trends, and even the disposition of guests. A hotel manager is expected to be knowledgeable about the local area, and to a certain extent, the world at large.
But the news itself—that is, the act of reading it so often—may not be good for you. An article by the Guardian UK recently likened online news to a sugary diet that leads to a kind of mental diabetes. It saps your creativity, shortens your attention span, makes you passive and desensitized. It fills your head with information whose only purpose is to make you a nervous wreck. The constant flow of headlines may seem harmless, but psychological and medical research is beginning to tell a different story.
The aforementioned Guardian article makes puts it this way: “Out of the approximately 10,000 news stories you have read in the last 12 months, name one that – because you consumed it – allowed you to make a better decision about a serious matter affecting your life, your career or your business.”
The point is not that people should avoid news altogether—that would be unrealistic and harmful in its own right, especially for business. But there’s a lot of information out there, and not all of it is healthy. In fact, how many times have you looked at a news article online only to be enticed away to look at the latest news on the Brangelina split or 10 ways to lose that belly fat? Finding what matters is an art form.
In terms of news that spurs critical thinking about hotel operations, one particular category is underrated: Technology. OTAs, AirBnb, and growing demands for high-speed Wi-Fi have turned the industry on its head in recent years—but it’s not just a question of adjusting to what has happened, it is also about trying to anticipate what I about to happen.
Did you know, for example, that a Danish startup called Planday has attracted serious investment capital with the promise of overhauling the way hotels (and other businesses) manage their workforce? Imagine using an app to draw from a pool of skilled, verified workers on short notice—the same way you might hire an Uber depending on the weather. This would give you more flexibility in terms of scheduling your regular employees and it also provides a platform for staff to swap shifts or even bid for open shifts. It could also make your work environment more attractive and flexible to regular employees.
Another example is the ever-changing landscape of streaming entertainment. You may have gotten rid of those tacky Wi-Fi charges, but what about speed and reliability? The amount of data people are consuming, and the speed at which they’re consuming it, has jumped in recent years. There is a veritable tsunami of information suggesting that speed is king now in WiFi. Forward-thinking properties are already making moves to upgrade their infrastructure. Some are installing dedicated fibre optic cables for each room, in order to guarantee sky-high download speeds for every guest. As entertainment and other guest-related apps move more squarely into the driver’s seat, hotels with outdated Internet systems may soon be struggling to catch up. Beefing up your data transfer capabilities will enable you to handle new social and entertainment services that haven’t even been invented yet.
The question is, does this kind of news qualify as healthy, useful information for hospitality professionals? It’s hard to see it any other way. There’s no reason to check the headlines every hour, but managers and operators who stay on top of tech news and analyse its impact on their business will surely be able to think more critically about their own operations and what the future holds.
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