Mini Rant: Is Hotel Technology Killing the Art of Travel?
Sometimes, we have to take a step back and take a long, hard look in the mirror.
No, not that mirror – the one that doubles as a television – the theoretical one. We admit it: Sometimes, we’re addicted to technology around here. Proof is in the pudding – a number of us confessed recently that fiddling with the television, iPod dock, WiFi, and electrical sockets is the first thing we tackle upon entering a hotel room. It’s understandable, but it’s also a little discouraging when you start to think of it in terms of the big picture.
For sure, all of this hotel room technology is certainly swell, enhancing a guest’s stay in a number of ways, but boy, it sure can make you lazy. There are many examples, the most paralyzing being that you don't have to get out of bed to open or close the curtains. In fact, the television remote does so much now that its ability to turn on the TV is an afterthought. These days, you barely have to interact with anyone while you're on the road – you can check into your hotel room via Skype!
Convenient? Sure. But do you think this trend represents a healthy approach to travel? There is definitely nothing wrong with embracing the benefits of technology, but we’re not so sure that it's a good thing for an obsession to take center stage, to be overly concerned about taping television shows while on the road or fearful of a brief chat with a member of the hotel staff (who by the way is most likely a local and able to point you in the direction of authenticity).
It’s not really about any one thing in particular – it’s moreso about the slippery slope that all the gadgets push you down. At the end of the day, it brings up the debate of traveling versus vacationing. Seeing as lots of hotels are designed to help guests relax and get away, to enjoy the path of least resistance, we're not going to sit here and say there is anything wrong with the latter. We realize that backpacking through Asian villages and communicating via basic hand signals is, understandably, not everyone's cup of joe.
But let's meet somewhere in the middle, yeah? You’re "too tired" to walk up to the front desk and have a five-minute conversation? You'd really prefer to check in from your car via Skype? Think about that for a second. The use of technology to avoid human interaction, to contain your attention to the inside of a hotel room, to ensure that you never have to be outgoing, seems to foster an attitude that is counterproductive to experiencing the new realities that travel, by definition, creates and presents.
We know the road less traveled isn't for everyone, but come on. Don't be a robot. It's a beautiful world out there.