Hotels Train Workers in the Personal Touch


by Michael T. Luongo for The New York Times

Technology, some hotels are finding, has its limits.

“Technology cannot hug a repeat guest,” said George Aquino, the vice president and managing director of AHC+Hospitality, formerly the Amway Hotel Corporation, based in Grand Rapids, Mich.

That is the reason his company, which manages several hotels, has been running a training program for some of its managers and other staff members to improve their hospitality skills, connect with local business leaders and learn more about local tourist offerings.

Similar programs are sprouting in other cities, involving not just hotels but also restaurants and even cities themselves, which see the personal touch as giving them a competitive edge. For business travelers, in particular, talking to someone knowledgeable about a city can lead to a good restaurant. And it can also help expand business leads.

As Mr. Aquino put it, “We have to be ambassadors for the city,” adding that the small size of Grand Rapids means “we’re one degree away from the person that you need to meet.”

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