Newsletter Steven Ferry

The Modern Butlers’ Journal, June 2019, Message from the Chairman

Steven FerryMessage from the Chairman

by Steven Ferry

A newspaper article this month refers to the inevitable robot butler, and raises concerns, finally, in the hospitality industry.

As the editor points out: “Seattle is proud of itself as being a leader in raising the minimum wage.  So far, hundreds of restaurants have closed and thousands of workers have lost their jobs. Now, thanks to robots and automation, hotel workers in Seattle are about to be fired. Worse, for the unions, this automation will become a nationwide effort by hotels, costing (the jobs of) tens of thousands of union members. The very same unions that pushed for a minimum wage, are the cause of the loss of jobs.”

Robots will never take over the jobs of butlers or any other service professionals as long as we all focus on providing genuine service as opposed to robotic, formulaic, and uncaring interactions with our guests, clients, and employers. Robots are much better at that, and cheaper in the long run for the financial firms that increasingly own hotels, and the number crunchers who run the increasingly large conglomerates of once-independent chains of hotels. See this very interesting article along this line, The Case of the Disappearing Hotel Manager.

My basic message is: Most guests and employers are people and appreciate efficient service that is also emotionally engaging and genuinely caring. Only those relatively few employers and guests who have lost their way spirituallyactually want to be served by robots with fake emotions and fake caring.

So as long as we all focus on providing solicitous service, we have nothing to fear from “robot butlers,” even if automation and artificial intelligence seem to be an inexorable juggernaut, a Jabba the Hut (of Star Wars fame), that will put an end to our jobs, our ability to contribute to society, and to humanity as a whole.

The Institute is dedicated to raising service standards by broadly disseminating the mindset and superior service expertise of that time-honored, quintessential service provider, the British Butler, updated with modern people- skills, and adapted to the needs of modern employers and guests in staffed homes, luxury hotels, resorts, spas, retirement communities, jets, yachts & cruise ships around the world.