No, instead, they were met in the lobby and quietly ushered to their room. No standing in line. No fishing out of credit cards. No waiting for the staff and technology to "sign them in."
Sign them in? Was that ever necessary.? Who said so? But it is, for all of us, so much a part of the ritual of visiting a hotel that Cheryl and Craig said that they were briefly disoriented. They were standing in their room, thinking, "Um, are we here yet."
Front desks and entry rituals, these are so deeply etched in our cultures, the hospitality industry, and our own expectations, that the world is a little confusing without them. But in an era of the high-end hotel, they are, of course, completely gratuitous, and a classic example of the dead head of competence. We force you to stand in line, because we always have.
Capitalism finds advantage "outside the box." So we are quick to "reinvent the world." It takes us several decades to do so, but finally someone had the wit to eliminate the front desk and the entry ritual.
My question, and I do have one, who was this? This is one of those wonderful innovations thrown off by the world of marketing, but no one is going to get the credit. I’ve made this point here before, but the other meaning makers in our culture (film makers, talk show hosts, writers) get lots of ink. No sooner were we treated to endless interviews with Peter Jackson to celebrate the release of King Kong, then we must now endure endless photos of and stories about George Clooney. Hollywood would very much like to shower this fella with Oscars, so we will be subject to Clooney "revelations" right through Febuary.
But will we ever learn who "rethought" the front desk of the hotel? Not a chance.
In November, I was singing the praises of Geoffrey Frost, the man who brought the Razr through Motorola and into the world. This guy did something extraordinary, and he died, November 17th, virtually unheralded. As an anthropologist, I am obliged to tell you, this is just screwed up. Our culture does not honor everyone it might.
Another example is Stephen Gordon, the guy who founded and ran Restoration Hardware. I wanted to write a case about him when I was at Harvard, and somehow the chance slipped away. Now he appears to have left Restoration Hardware altogether. (And if you have been in a Restoration Hardware recently, I didn’t have to tell you this.) It is not impossible to find traces of this guy’s career on line, including, for instance, this intriquing comment:
It’s not about nostalgia. It’s an intuitive process to understand what an egg beater can mean to people, to package a set of salt cellars so they evoke a whole set of memories…We appreciate tradition and history, but we stay away from ye-old.
Here’s my plea: please would you rack your brain and let me know of people like Geoffrey Frost or Stephen Gordon, that we might sing their praises here and perhaps elsewhere on Corante. I mean, if we don’t, who’s going to?
Anon. n.d., Restoration Hardware. Publication of the Corporate Design Foundation. here.
(source for the Stephen Gordon quote)