A new study from the Cornell Center for Hospitality Research (CHR) demonstrates how to combine technology with personal service to maintain guest satisfaction. The study, "Cyborg Service: The Unexpected Effect of Technology in the Employee–Guest Exchange," by Michael Giebelhausen, is available at no charge from the CHR. "My colleagues and I have conducted several studies intended to find when guests like interacting with technology, and when technology leaves hotel guests dissatisfied," explained Giebelhausen, an assistant professor at the Cornell School of Hotel Administration. "What we found is that technology can really improve the service experience, but guests don't want to have their attention divided between technology and a frontline agent." The report bases its findings on recent research conducted by Giebelhausen and colleagues, as well as two new experimental studies. "In one experiment, guests used a Monscierge Connect Lobby touchscreen that was located at a slight distance from a bell stand. This allowed enough distance between the two to create a 'social space.' The bell person was still nearby but the guest didn't feel so awkward about not interacting." The other study showed, though, that when guests had to divide their attention between a piece of technology and the frontline agent, satisfaction with the technology decreased. "One thing I've noticed is that guests don't like it when technology comes between them and a frontline agent who has been interacting with them. The idea is that people feel awkward when technology prevents them from responding to an agent's greeting, or if they feel that using the technology is making them appear rude to the agent." The lesson here, says Giebelhausen, "is to make sure the guest, the employee, and the technology work together appropriately." Download the sturdy at Cornell University (free registration)