Opinion: Sounding off - Don't let the net get in the way of personal service

The internet has revolutionised the C&I sector in countless positive ways: efficiencies in ordering, booking and planning; improved communication; more streamlined processes. The internet has also created products and services , such as video-conferencing, wireless LANs and broadband that mean extra revenue streams and enhanced services.

Pessimists used to say the net would empty the conference halls - everyone would stay at home and talk online. Clearly this has not been the case.

People still need to see each other and socialise over a glass of something.

The idea of sitting in a room with a monitor is certainly not much of an incentive for most business people.

The C&I travel market operates at the higher end of the industry. Personal service,anticipation of needs and exceeding expectations are the order of the day. The industry is dependent on building genuine long-term relationships.

Stapleford Park offers exclusive conference, spa, sporting and entertainment facilities. It uses and offers technology, but does not rely on it. Taking a booking is a complex skill that is the foundation of the relationship between guest and venue.

The problem is that the rest of the travel industry is turning to the cost-cutting systems made possible by the net. Guests surf the net to book and liaise with a venue. This not only creates a marketplace where everything is bought on price, but it fails to allow for a professional relationship to develop.

In a world where corners are being cut and personal service ignored, C&I travel is less likely to be able to meet the expectations of the traveller.

If this trend is allowed to increase, how long is it before the prospect of staying at home with a monitor becomes more appealing to the potential guest?

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