Of all the damage done by the COVID-19 pandemic — a scourge that is still not over — one of the most notable is the demise of the business card.
At the first hotel industry conference I attended following the worst ravages of the pandemic, the International Hotel Investment Forum in Berlin in September 2021, business cards had disappeared.
I doubt if anyone even packed them — the idea that person A would hand over something they’d touched to person B, who would gladly touch something person A touched and keep it for later perusal, appeared to everyone as a degree of folly.
In the same manner, there did not exist conference and company pamphlets or little bowls of mints and the like.
I did bring a few business cards to the May 2022 IHIF, but the reception to them was not overwhelming, so I stopped handing them out.
Technology has provided a worthy solution, with, for example, an iPhone capable of taking a snapshot of a QR code and instantly storing all the relevant information into the intended receiver’s database.
This is evidently better for the environment, although I am sure technology does have a carbon footprint.
Bye-bye, business cards, might be the call.
That goes to show that sometimes the things you took for granted as always being necessary are not actually necessary.
The same is being demonstrated for London-bound trains and offices.
There is a wonderful, thought-provoking article in the New York Times on the demise and near-death of the U.S. suburban office complex — those standalone, semi-countrified, park-right-out-front behemoths beloved by satellite towns in need of tax revenue.
I sent it to my Hotel News Now colleagues, and one of them, Stephanie Ricca, wrote back saying she thought one photo in the article, titled “A paper jam from 2018” is worthy of a Pulitzer Prize.
I know what she means. That photo perfectly captures a moment, like the hardened lava did after the eruptive magma from Vesuvius finally solidified over Pompeii.
The prize would, I think, already be on its way if the document in the photo was dated March 23, 2020, but it dates to January 16, 2018, which suggests such office arrangements were on their way out of fashion long before the pandemic.
Maybe a photo of a business card will be used in years to come to suggest an arcane practice now resigned to history like sending messages via telex and listening to music on a Walkman?
News came in this week that German hotel firm Ruby Hotels is offering an incentive to new employees, who after six months’ employment will receive 500 euros for a tattoo, piercing or new hairstyle. According to a news release, ”Ruby wants to encourage its employees to create their individual success story, to show their own personality and also showcase it at work.”
Despite the huge challenge that is staffing in the hotel industry, I wonder if this is the right message.
Does it not stereotype hospitality workers, although of course every newcomer could elect the haircut option, albeit a $511 haircut probably involving dye, color, back-combing, heat treatment and careful shaving.
I am tattooed, and I still like them. Far from me to be conservative, but what’s wrong just giving an incentive as cash or, in a traded company, in shares.
Publicity, I guess, and my comments underline any genius in this incentive.
Ruby says it is looking for people who “value character, soul and individuality,” so expect to see increasingly colorful hoteliers in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, the markets the campaign is focused on.
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