Ghosts and Hotels, but not the Spooky Kind

Matthew Holman – Owner Simpila Mental Health – 31-10-2022

For a number of years I have spoken about a phenomenon of ‘Ghosts’ in hotels.  But I am not referring to the ghosts needing exercising or scaring people in the night.  I am talking about how without considering the human impact we have created hotels where travellers can ghost through the whole experience, without the need to engage or interact with other humans at any stage of their stay.  This is something which when viewed from a mental health perspective, worries me. 

The trend towards less touch points and more automation of processes should be approached with caution. Whilst it makes sense to employ less people for contact points for travellers (to offer competitive rates and avert the resourcing challenges of this industry), we have to be careful. Mental health statistics prove that there are significant challenges that lay ahead with the increase in depression, anxiety and isolation/loneliness being serious societal issues. 

Before I am shot down for trying to change the whole hotel ecosystem, I want to be clear, for some this privacy is a welcome escape from the constant connections that we hold most days.  However for many the experience can be isolating and induce deeper levels of loneliness.  

When I was a frequent traveller I used to spend many days/nights in hotels travelling alone.  I genuinely craved some sort of connection.  I would intentionally try and have a small conversation with the person on reception, or just to say hello to someone in the lift.  Whilst this does not fit everyone’s social make-up, it is the small things that matter the most.  I have seen many individuals sat on their own in restaurants, head down, on their laptop or phones, looking like they are disconnected (albeit online). 

If you are a frequent traveller, how do you feel when you stay in hotels alone? Is it a welcome treat, or do you struggle with those inner feelings of loneliness? I wrote an article about loneliness back in May: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/loneliness-business-travel-human-impact-matthew-holman/

Maybe we need to take a step back and ensure hotel design and services include many touch-points and options for travellers to engage and feel connected. 

Hoteliers – here is your challenge

How can you:

  • Improve connections with guests? 
  • Get to know and understand guests personal requirements?
  • Engage more frequently in small conversations  
  • Train staff to recognise any signs of distress or challenges in guests

I know there are many hotels already out there offering a full range of services and options to cater for travellers.  Ask yourself, how well are you connecting the travellers with these options or experiences when they are staying with you? How can you communicate directly to a traveller to engage in what ‘they’ would like or need?   

Humans are ghosting in hotels because we have created the ability for them to do so, but maybe we have forgotten the importance of connections, is this a case of money over community? 

There are many areas to consider here. But as I always say the first thing is awareness.  Let’s raise greater awareness of the potential challenges, and then we can work towards finding the best solutions to help. 

Please do feel free to get in touch if you would like to discuss the above, or you are a hotelier who would like help with improving the traveller experiences when using your facilities. You can contact me on: simpila@simpila.com

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