This week on Inform & Connect, the American Foundation for the Blind’s ongoing series created to foster togetherness and camaraderie within the blindness community through informal storytelling and learning about relevant, interesting topics, Melody speaks with C. Scott Hansen, Sr. Director, Guest Technology, Global Operations Marriott International, Inc.
In our current times, we are moving back to the world of travel. We can all agree this looks very different from what we were used to. Scott not only has a vast amount of knowledge in the hospitality industry, but is a seasoned traveler that wants to collaborate with us all in this unchartered territory.
Melody Goodspeed: I really, really, really am excited to have you here. What I would really love to talk to you today is we're going to have just a really ... topic that I think is so critical and important for all of us, is how we're moving back into travel, what that looks like. We have a very special guest Scott Hansen today, who is going to join us, and we're going to have a very lively conversation. Welcome Scott.
Scott Hansen: Thank you, Melody. Good afternoon, everybody. Happy to be here.
Melody Goodspeed: Yeah. We're so happy to have you. Scott and I have had a lot of conversations. We've been on a couple of collaborative projects together, and so this is how I've gotten to know him. We really have been talking a lot about travel these days, but I'm going to let Scott tell you a little bit about his background first before we get there, so take it away, Scott.
Scott Hansen: Yeah, sure. Thanks, Melody. Again, good afternoon, everybody. Again, my name is Scott Hansen and I'm with Marriott International. My official title is Senior Director of Guest Facing Technology, and I'll talk a little bit more about what that means specifically in a second, but as I was recollecting just today, I've been in the travel industry now for 25 years, and most specifically with Marriott now for almost 18 years. It's been a long ride for me. I've known no other industry other than when I was in college and things like that, but no other industry in my adult life other than travel and hospitality, specifically. Started off in my very early days out of college at the Waldorf Astoria in New York city. Some of you may have been to that property, and really honed my hospitality skills, if you will, from an operational perspective at probably one of the finest hotels in the world.
Scott Hansen: It's unfortunately no longer a full property. They've turned much of it into condos and things like that, but in its heyday, the Waldorf Astoria really represented true luxury travel and hospitality. But moved on from there and spent some time at a company called club quarters, which is a small hotel company. Still alive and well today with about 15 properties around the world. And then moved from New York City where I worked for Club Quarters, both at the hotel level and at the corporate level to where I am today, Bethesda, Maryland, in the headquarters of Marriott International, where I started in our internet operations organization, in e-commerce. What essentially my responsibilities revolved around was the operational management of Marriott.com, and the business operations of Marriott.com.
Scott Hansen: One of my primary roles there was to interpret guest feedback from our call centers and other sources to improve the website. I'm happy to say today that Marriott.com, a lot of people don't know this, is still a top 10. I keep saying seventh or eighth largest website by revenues in the world. I'm not sure if that's exactly correct, but it's fairly closed. Significant revenues flow, as you can imagine, inclusive of our mobile product now, into that website. Actually, that was my first introduction with AFB and working with Carla Vista, which I just got reacquainted with a few minutes ago. I'm happy to see him again in trying to improve the website to accommodate blind users and those with other disabilities. I'm happy to have had that experience.
Scott Hansen: Within the last eight to 10 years, I've now moved into the guest facing technology space, and guest facing technology, just to orient you from other technologies in a hotel, is really that which the guests interacts with once they're in the lobby space and in their guest room specifically. Not necessarily the back of the house type of technology that supports food and beverage and check in and that sort of thing, but really, things that revolve around the TV, digital signage, automation in a guest room, things like that are my focus. We more recently worked with Melody and in a project called Room For All, which we may or may not get into today. But essentially, voice then started to play a part in that.
Scott Hansen: You guys are familiar with products like Alexa and things like that, which we are looking at potentially introducing in guest rooms to help guests better control their surroundings and orient themselves to a new environment. The great thing about technology is that there's always something new out there for us to tackle or review or integrate, much of which is predicated on what guests are used to at home, and so while we'll never have the resources to replicate your living room, it would just be too difficult to keep up. We can do come close with much of what we're pioneering within the hotel room. Much of my focus is around the TV itself, the content there, how one interacts with that. We've more recently brought in streaming content, digitized collateral to allow more things to be communicated through the television, the mobile application versus just papers on the desk and things like that, which for lots of reasons, aren't the most efficient way. Sorry, that was a long winded way of rounding out the last 20 years there, Melody.
Melody Goodspeed: No, it was not odd. It was actually quite good. I think that, when you're talking about highest Italian hotel, there are so many different components. Just talking about the guest facing technology, because what you're doing with the guests, using your analogy, is so critical, and what I really love about it, and the time that we have spent together in working on collaboration and projects is your passion for advocacy, and making sure that people with disabilities are included in this innovation. Can you talk to us a little bit about that and why that's so important to you?
Scott Hansen: Yeah, absolutely. Again, I think it did start with my responsibilities with Marriot.com, and really learning about some of the challenges that people have with digital interactions and digital interfaces. Shortly after that, it became second nature just to say hey, we need to ensure that we include that perspective in all that we design and think about putting in rooms. I think more recently, I will say that my efforts have focused on ... many people on this call have traveled, I'm sure, or all have traveled. What tends to happen is that you form segregated environments for people with disabilities, so you have accessible rooms and things like that. Depending on the disability, that makes sense, because you need a different physical configuration. But by and large, that segregation does not necessarily need to take place.
Scott Hansen: With the digital environments today and the way that things, and quite frankly, led by the likes of Apple and Google, thankfully, we've been able to adopt those sorts of products now into every single guest room. I'm speaking specifically for the TV space, making sure it's very easy to have voiceovers and descriptors and things like that easily accessed and into the TV. Introducing voice, which I will say right now, within five years, I will predict that most hotel rooms ... well, I take that back. The recent COVID situation, unfortunately, has probably limited some of our capital expenditure opportunities. Whether or not that gets delayed in more years, it's TBD.
Melody Goodspeed: Yeah.
Scott Hansen: Yeah. If you asked me in January, I would say within five years. Walking into a room, and honestly, my house has all the bells and whistles, as I'm sure many of yours do, with the formal products. I've actually walked into hotel rooms and said, "Hey, Alexa, turn on my lights." Just because it's habit of when I do walk into my house. Just understanding my own behavior, and obviously the ease of use. There's a gap of orientation in being able to assimilate to an environment in a hotel like no other. You've, in many cases, never been to that city, you've never been to that particular hotel, and likely, never been to that specific room. From a technical perspective, how can we actually engineer that experience to make that as seamless and possible?
Scott Hansen: Obviously, people with sight limitations, it's a whole another challenge that is introduced there. My job is to look at how technology can necessarily augment the opportunity to make that more efficient and pleasant experience. That, on top of operational changes and things like that, that we can use to better serve all of our guests. Again, it's something that I enjoy. Again, long winded way, but going back to your original question, my passion just arose from my early work with Carl and the team and sort of continued on. Thankfully, I was able to apply that to my current role, which has moved away from a website and now into the physical space of a hotel room. I will say, at the offset, we have a lot of work to do, and I like challenges. But maybe that was another [crosstalk 00:10:21].
Melody Goodspeed: No, you do. I can tell.
Scott Hansen: [crosstalk 00:10:24] appealed to me to say, okay, well, what needs to be fixed?
Melody Goodspeed: Yes.
Scott Hansen: And how do we get at it? That was probably the significant part of the appeal as well. So yeah.
Melody Goodspeed: I've really enjoyed, with our discussions, about the challenges and how you were so open to have honest conversations and how we must have those. It's a good segue into why we're here today is, we, Scott and I, have have talked about what travel looks like. He is a seasoned traveler, and even I ... I'm going to speak for you, Scott, just this uncharted territory of returning and with our current climate, and we really just sat down and thought, well, maybe it would be with real time experience. Can you tell us just a little bit about what Marriott, or what you're seeing now, even if it's at Marriott or the other group, which I'll let you explain that you're in, what you're doing to ease those fears? Then we want to be able to hear from our audience about what those specific fears are to help you out and be a collaborative because we're coming together as one.
Scott Hansen: Yeah, absolutely, and thank you for that. You always want to understand what the trepidations are from our customer and guest space, because what we assume are the things that would prevent or preclude somebody from wanting to come to a hotel, or not necessarily the most accurate aspects of the fear. What we're looking at, it really emanates from two perspectives. It's, how do you minimize touching things and how do you minimize interacting with people? Those are the top two things that I think the CDC and others and all the other things that we've heard for the longest time are the two elements that we have to be very respectful of and make sure that we accommodate for, and show, from a touch perspective, and interacting with aspects of the physical environment within the hotels, how do we limit that as much as possible?
Scott Hansen: Now, of course, we've augmented all of the cleaning protocols and things like that. Many of you guys have probably seen some of that stuff on the news. It's been very prominent. I think we're doing a great job with that, but there is also this psychological element to say, if I don't have to touch a door, an elevator button, a remote control, there is some sense of a feeling of being more safe. We think philosophically, strategically that one's own products, one's own devices that they're use every day in their lives are probably that which they feel most comfortable with. So, obviously, a mobile device that can control your environment, even when you're not in your own environment is one of the things that we want to focus on.
Scott Hansen: By the way, this is prior to the whole COVID situation, where we wanted to develop efficiencies for people coming to our hotels that didn't have the need to have to interact with our associates. Being able to check in on the Marriott Bonvoy App, as an example, being able to request the room type that you want, being able to confirm that you received the room type that you want all prior to getting to the hotel, and then the hotel being able to respond by saying that the room is actually ready that you've requested, and going directly to your room without even having to go to the front desk is something that again was born out of efficiencies, born out of the fact that the younger generations, and I won't pick on millennials. I'll even go [inaudible 00:14:24] generation than that, don't particularly ... Talking to people is not necessarily their first desire.
Scott Hansen: Texting and other forms of communication are, which is perfectly fine that they would just rather prefer to transact without the necessity of having to go to a front desk. Going into an elevator, being able to use your phone as the access element within the elevator to get to your room, and then having it activate as a key as well to get into your room itself. What is the physical element you're removing from the equation while you don't have to touch a plastic key? Again, we don't have definitive feedback that "people are afraid of touching a plastic key." It is the psychological element of ongoing into a foreign place, limit my interaction with physical elements there that I'm not necessarily familiar with.
Scott Hansen: Obviously that also include, inherent in that arrival scenario that I described, you do not have to interact with a front desk agent, which by the way, we've now separated from our guests with a plexiglass partition. Obviously, masks are worn and things like that, and respectful distancing has been instituted. But again, it's that psychological element of I'm in control, I'm in a new place, allow me to have access to that is really the underlying philosophy there. Then once you're in a room, and this is actually some of the work that Melody participate in with our Room For All initiative, which unfortunately was right at the beginning of all of this. We're in the midst of continuing that, is to then integrate that app to manage the environment itself.
Scott Hansen: I suspect you will all see that accelerate significantly, whereas you can turn on the lights, or close the curtain, even put on the do not disturb on the door, things like that, all through your mobile app. Then obviously control the TV as well. The philosophy we have around voice is to also actually use your mobile device to be the receptor of voice. In this case, it would be Siri or Google depending on your operating system. That way, again, taking it to another level of comfort and safety. You don't have this microphone sitting in a hotel room that's listening to you all the time, other than your own microphone. Hopefully, you trust that.
Scott Hansen: We would much prefer you to be able to say to Siri, turn on the lights, and it would activate, through your phone, to our app, to the lights, and proceed that way, versus this other device, which you may be hesitant to interact with based upon data collection, or other potentially nefarious elements from either Marriott or actually from Amazon in that case. You see where we're going with a lot of this stuff, but ultimately, I continue to want to solicit feedback from the likes of you guys to say, "I don't really care about the key. The key's fine. I'll use a regular key, but I really don't want to touch the door, or I really don't want to touch that remote control. That's the one thing that worries me." Or what I worry about is the elevator. How do I ensure that I'm the only one on the elevator? And things like that.
Scott Hansen: There are gradations of hesitation that I think exists within the travel experience. That's the one piece that we've yet to actually rank, if you will, and determine what do we attack first, but all these things are coming into play. One thing I was going to say, I had neglected to add is that, we're also looking at tele interfacing with associates through a lobby kiosk or a lobby tablet. Picture coming into a hotel and you sit down at a desk and you check in with somebody, but that individual is either in the back office of the hotel, or they may be in a central location managing five or six hotel check-ins, and your distanced through technology by interfacing, similar to the way we are today, checking in and making sure your credit card information is okay, putting in special requests and things like that. All those sorts of things can also be done in that distance environment. All of these things are incumbent upon Marriott.
Scott Hansen: This is one of the early things that were born out of the work that I did with Melody, is that we don't always get right what the traveler is asking for within a room. One of the things with our room for all initiative that came out very loud and clearly to us was, procedurally, we request the proper rooms, the amenities that we need to make our stay comfortable, and you don't always provide what we've asked. You don't fulfill that end of the transaction. That has nothing to do with technology, to be quite honest with you, that has everything to do with execution. Not to say that I'm advocating that responsibility, but my point is, we need to do it all and we're working towards it.
Melody Goodspeed: Thank you, sure, of letting us know and sharing where we're going with this. I think that's a good segue. Now what we want to do is, before we open it up for Q&A, so we can have a clarative discussion, I just want you guys to know that, if we really ... Scott and I really want to keep this conversation going, because maybe sometimes there's something you've seen here or you've heard, or you get off and you're like, "Oh, I wish I would have answered that question." We're not really sure how that platform is going to look yet, but what if you could, when you're putting your questions and comments in, can you please just put in your email address as well so that we have your contact information to keep you moving? Because we're better together and creating a life of no limits when we collaborate.
Melody Goodspeed: We really want to keep that inclusion going on the AFP side, also here with our partners and how much we've really enjoyed having Scott here today and just helping us navigate that. We are going to go ahead and open it up. Scott, thank you. Before we do, can you, such a seasoned traveler, because I loved your stories of talking [inaudible 00:20:58]. If you had like just one tip for anybody, with your travel, which, even you said yourself, and this time is uncharted territory, what would that be? One little tip.
Scott Hansen: Yeah. Full disclosure, Melody prepped me for this, so I actually came up with two. I'll be very quick, but the one thing, when I travel, that I focus on more than anything else is saving time. Obviously, we've all been doing this. It feels like a cattle call. They're funneling you through systems that can accommodate the number of people they're trying to funnel me through. My first suggestion would be to ensure that you join as many of the efficiency opportunities as possible, like pre-check, global entry, if you can do clear. By the way, you think these expenses start adding up. I joined one credit card and it knocked out all this stuff for me for free.
Scott Hansen: Do your research on your credit card, but anyway, so having that, and again, I do about 200,000 miles a year, which is a lot. When I get dropped off at the hotel, I literally walked through the door. Between car and past security rarely takes me more than five minutes. It's just the efficiencies and the benefits that you get from joining these both low cost and low barrier to entry, unless you're a terrorist or something, you might have some problems, but other than that ...
Melody Goodspeed: Oh yeah.
Scott Hansen: I would be joining that. Then even the lounge access I find helpful, and I get that from a credit card as well. Again, all these things sort of sound a little bourgeois, when you're like, "Oh, well, you got all these special ..." No. I'm telling you. You join one credit card, you knock all this stuff out. The second thing I would say is, whenever you're at a hotel, and I've worked at the front desk of a hotel way back just out of college for a while, be nice to the people at the front desk and you will get everything you want. I'm telling you. I can tell stories, when I was at the Waldorf Astoria, this huge historic hotel and just beautiful rooms, but they were not all created equally. There were times when, literally, people would come up to me and ... Status aside, obviously the other thing I would say is join all of the programs for airlines and hotel loyalty programs. That's a no brainer because you don't want to lose ... never spend a nickel without having some sort of return to you.
Scott Hansen: I would have full discretion to put that person in any room that I wanted, and it was based on nothing because they were all paying the same rate. There were some that had a nice corner view. Then people that were always nicer to me and just struck up a conversation, and I felt even a modicum of rapport, I just gave them the nicer room and then somebody else who, no fault of their own or didn't do anything, I put them in so just the average room. It was what they paid for. It wasn't anything less, but my point being, there's always a better room than the one you paid for or the one you asked for, and kindness at the front desk will almost always get you into that room, that's a little bit bigger, nicer, higher up, whatever the criteria that is meaningful to you, you should be able to get that. Those are my tips.
Melody Goodspeed: Those are very good tips. I very much like those. Well, we're going to go ahead and have Susan open up the floor for comments and questions. Again, if you could please include your email address, if you'd like to keep this going because we really want to. We want to build this up and provide real life feedback and can't wait to get started, you guys.
Suzan Henderson: Yeah, we have a comment from Sonia, and she said, "Those are great tips. Thank you." There's a really good question from Thomas Reid. He says, "Is Marriott considering the installation of indoor navigation? Seems like a great way to reduce the need for interaction."
Scott Hansen: I don't know from what perspective you're asking the question. The answer is yes, from a digital signage perspective. Going back to one of the strategies of limiting interaction, by default, you have to supplement that limited interaction with some other mechanism of communication. If I can't go talk to the front, or I should say, I'm discouraged from talking to the front desk, the concierge, or whomever else, somehow I need to also be aware of some aspect of the hotel, the operations of the hotel, the pool is closed, the gym hours are limited, or I have to sign up for the gym now because we want to limit the number of people in there. We need to make sure that that is being communicated.
Scott Hansen: We do have very fair ... I should say fairly, not very, robust programs and products around digital signage that we can roll out fairly quickly and have been rolling out fairly quickly to denote those changes and allow you to interface with a digital interface versus a physical one. Now, the next question is obviously going to be, is it accessible for those with site disabilities? That is something we need to figure out. One of the things that we have implemented and are continuing to look at and expand upon are our beaconing technologies, which is to say, your phone, your Marriott app is triggered with a message as you pass a physical location.
Scott Hansen: Now, again, initially designed to say, oh, you're walking by Starbucks. Why don't you come on in here and I'll give you a free cookie, or something like that, with every purchase of a coffee. Now, logically, you would say, well, why can't you just expand that to say, if I'm passing by a digital signage, give me whatever that communication is through my mobile device to which then I can actually "see it as well." That is also being integrated into that feature set. As I talk about technology, I should have probably talked a little bit about Marriott that people don't maybe have background on. We have 7,400 hotels, give or take, around the world. We are the largest hotel company in the world, and we are a franchise model company, which is to say, we do not own our hotels.
Scott Hansen: We own, out of 7,400 hotels, probably 20 of them, and that's just has to do with purchasing assets and reselling the real estate at a higher value, blah, blah, blah. Consequently, part of my job is to evangelize some of these technology needs and efforts to owners to go out and purchase them. It is not a foregone conclusion that we say, oh, you need to have X, Y, Z, and it'll be there tomorrow. It is a constant challenge of reeducating those with the checkbooks to understand what is important. Part of my advocacy continues to include, obviously people with disabilities and other groups to ensure that we are serving the needs of everyone. That includes, so going back ... roundabout way again of going to going back to your question to say the answer is yes. Replacing human interaction with digital to be able to be accommodated by mobile devices. Then hence that is consumable by almost all of our guests.
Melody Goodspeed: Thank you. That was a good question, Thomas. It's good to see you.
Suzan Henderson: We have another question, and a comment from our dear friend, [Katherine 00:29:08] Harrison. "I find the hotel experience difficult because across the board, the rooms are very dark. With limited vision, better lighting would be fabulous. My question is about feeling secure when I travel alone as a vision impaired woman. Is the technology you're talking about going to address this?"
Scott Hansen: The technology you're referring to specifically is brighter environments within the rooms. My honest answer is no. That's probably not on the list. It is now. I wasn't aware that the rooms weren't necessarily bright enough. What I am aware of is that the light switch configurations in a room are probably not accommodating enough to hit all the lights to make it bright enough for people. That I will concur with, and that's why we are starting to automate the room lighting control to be more centralized so that you're not on your hands ... Well, you wouldn't be on your hands in these, but if you're trying to figure out behind a curtain or something like that, to find another light switch.
Scott Hansen: I've done this too, where there's a lamp sitting on a bed stand, and I'm like, okay, do I control this from the wall switch? Do I control it from the little button underneath the light bulb? Or do I control it on the cord? That sort of thing frustrates me. I can only imagine how it frustrates others. There is a way we're addressing it, but overall, from a design perspective, it sounds like the rooms, in general, even if you were to maximize the lighting environment in there, in totality, that it may still fall short, and that's something I'll make note of.
Melody Goodspeed: Good question, Catherine. Thank you.
Suzan Henderson: This is some good feedback for you, Scott. This is from Marsha. "Not technology, but the plexiglass is really starting to be put up in many businesses. This is a problem with my low vision, is I cannot see where I need to actually go to talk to the person behind the counter. Also, if the TV could be turned off by your phone, that would be great." Sometimes it's hard for her to find the remote in the room.
Scott Hansen: The material of plexiglass, in and of itself, is not opaque enough. Am I interpreting that correctly?
Melody Goodspeed: Marsha, you can tell me if I'm wrong, but I think also too, because I have found this to be true. When I'm going up to go speak with someone where there's a plexiglass situation, I don't know where the hole is, so I'm talking to literally the plexiglass.
Scott Hansen: So they can't hear you or you can't hear. I get it. All right.
Melody Goodspeed: Yes. Marsha, I think that's where we were ... because we had discussed this last week, I think. Yes, but it's problematic.
Scott Hansen: Yeah. Part of the way we got to address that is consistency and then communicate that consistency of how that was going to appear. Again, part of the challenge, and please don't feel like I'm making excuses, but part of the challenge is then you have some owners that put in things one way or the other, and part of Marriott's responsibility, part of my responsibility from a brand standards perspective is to make sure that that consistency remains so that, Melody, you always know that the whole is four inches above the counter, or something to that effect, and then that will be of help. But this is good to understand with plexiglass never having been a part of this. We make a joke that it's like, Oh, it's like those liquor stores in the bad neighborhoods. Now you've got to slip your credit card underneath and say, "Hey, can I have a room?" it's kind of one of those things. Again, it's a safety necessity that we have to do and we're happy to do, but note well-taken on the consistency of how that is set up.
Suzan Henderson: Marsha reached out again, and yes, Melody, that's what she was talking about with the plexiglass. We also had a follow up comment from Katherine about the dark rooms, and she said that it's an issue sometimes for her in the hallways and the lobbies too with her low vision. Our next question here is from Lisa. "Will you be offering a large choice of audio descriptive movies, TV shows for visually impaired that are easy to use?"
Scott Hansen: That's a good question. Thank you. The services that we have on our TV are ... it's called the guestroom entertainment platform, and I won't go too far into this, although a very proud of what we've created, leverages the technology that is inherent in the apps. You have alternative audio options for standard TV. We call it linear TV, which is the typical broadcast, ABC, CBS and cable stations. Excuse me, but when you get into what we refer to as OTT applications, which are the Netflix and the Hulu and things like that, all of the technologies that enable voiceovers and things like that and descriptors that exist within that application are activated within the application. Maybe I'm not making sense here. You sign into your Netflix account on the TV in the hotel room, you have all of the capabilities of Netflix once you're in that application, which includes activating descriptor titles and other things that may be of assistance to you.
Melody Goodspeed: That would be like using whatever audio description we use at home. Like you're talking about, with translate, it'd be much like going from home to your hotel room.
Scott Hansen: Correct. Yeah. I refer to Netflix specifically. Now, if you guys are talking about, oh, I have to go purchase this specific hardware, software to be able to translate everything on the TV, we do not have anything specific to that. It is what is inherent in the application itself, and then alternative audio options that are standard with a TV product that you would buy at Best Buy and things like that, we have all of those things. Again, if there's something that I'm missing, that is a very specific technology that you're saying, "Oh, no, you got to go buy the X, Y, Z. This is great. Just hook this up." I'm happy to look into that.
Melody Goodspeed: Thank you.
Suzan Henderson: Okay. This is more of a comment from Nasreen. Her concerns are with the elevator areas, will they be more accessible?
Scott Hansen: I guess I need more specificity around that. Accessibility from what capacity? Is it trouble finding the fours that you're going to, to press the button? Is it the size of the elevator to accommodate a wheelchair? What specific aspect of the elevator is challenging?
Suzan Henderson: Nasreen if you'd share a little bit more information with us, we'll pass it on to Scott. We have time for a few more questions or comments or feedback, so please send that in.
Melody Goodspeed: Yes, we do. Nasreen, while you're at that, I think one of the questions that I have is, if anyone has no specific fears moving into traveling, thank you so much for all your comments, you guys, that you put here, but for me, I know we have a thing around of knowing who is 16 in front of us, that kind of thing, what the world's going to look like, and just any kind of feedback. Scott's point is, are keys something that is nervous for you? If that's not, what is? Just that kind of feedback so that, we're able to provide that solid feedback to assist the hospitality industry. Because truly, and we were talking about this, and you just heard on the news, we were talking earlier is that this has been the most hit industry as far as ... with COVID.
Scott Hansen: Economically. Yeah.
Melody Goodspeed: Yeah. All of what we're doing here today is so really important.
Scott Hansen: Yeah, absolutely. Again, if there are things that ... I'll sort of piggyback on that Melody. If there are things that, in the last three months of your life, whether it's going to the grocery store or any other aspect of your typical life that is different now, let me see how I can phrase this, that you think hotels need to be concerned about accommodating, you need to let us know. The conversation I had with Melody was around, well, now you need to stay six feet away from each other, but people's, and this may be a good thing or a bad thing, but people's normal inclination is to come over to you and say, "Hey, may I help you?" And of course, they grabbed you, and you're like, "You're not supposed to grab me. I don't care if there's COVID or not."
Melody Goodspeed: Yes.
Scott Hansen: Things like that now have compounded your everyday experience, and a hotel should do X, Y, and Z to help us maintain the distances that everyone else can enjoy. But yet, for some reason, people with side issues are not getting that same accommodation. Again, I don't know what it's been, I know Melody you've come up with a couple of ideas that you're bouncing around some other groups and things like that. Yeah. That sort of thing that says, hey, and I don't know the answer. That's why I'm sort of throwing it out to the group. Clearly, even education of our associates to say, hey, I know your first inclination is to run over and say, "Hey, can I help?" And grab things, and this and that. COVID doesn't care if you're blind or not.
Scott Hansen: It's going to affect you either way. Let's make sure that we respect the same precautions that are afforded every everyone across the board and not make exceptions that will be the detriment of somebody with site issues. That's a general statement, but maybe there's something that I'm missing in the hospitality environment.
Melody Goodspeed: No, that's very well put.
Suzan Henderson: Marsha has ... Oh, sorry, Melody.
Melody Goodspeed: No, you go ahead.
Suzan Henderson: Marsha has another question. This is a bit logistical. If the key to your room is on your phone, how do you use it to open the room? For example, finding the place to scan my boarding pass at the airport with her phone is a challenge for her.
Melody Goodspeed: Good one Marsha.
Scott Hansen: Yeah, it will always be optional. We would never force somebody to do that. That is an option for somebody that wants to use it. You can always get a traditional key, and in fact, the other option that we have that I think I neglected to talk about is we're building these kiosks that, when you come into the hotel, and these are fully accessible too, but when you come into the hotel and you either swipe your credit card or type in your last name, or speak your name or something like that, it will actually print out your key for you after some validation of who you are so if you don't want to use your phone. My familiarity with the accessibility features of an iPhone are somewhat limited, so I can't intelligently speak to how challenging it is for you to find the Marriott app.
Scott Hansen: I will say this, and I vacillate between using a traditional key in my phone, because a key, I can pull out of my pocket, open the door, and it takes five seconds ... not even five seconds, a second. Whereas, if I have to pull out my phone, find the app, make sure ... you've got to make sure the phone is connected to either the internet or cellular connection, then hit the key, open the door. It takes five seconds, or a few seconds and then the door is open. It's a little bit more laborious than just pulling out a key out of your pocket, but for some people, that either want the efficiency of not having to stop for a key or feel some hesitation about touching a piece of plastic, they're willing take that extended time to be able to open the door. To answer your question, how do you do it?
Scott Hansen: Again, I can't speak from an accessibility perspective, but it is essentially as easy as going into your Marriott Bonvoy app, and right on that, I'll call it the homepage of the app, there is something that says you are checked into room 505. Press here, hold phone next to lock and it'll open.
Melody Goodspeed: Nice.
Suzan Henderson: Can we have another comment from Lisa? She says that, guide dogs for the blind had their annual reunion at Marriott of Portland this past October. The staff was fabulous with 95 dogs and over 170 people in the group. During the banquet, the staff was surprised that there was no noise from the guide dogs.
Melody Goodspeed: That's a great comment. Thank you for that, Lisa.
Scott Hansen: Are guide dog breeds chosen specifically because they don't bark a lot or are they...
Melody Goodspeed: They're trained that way.
Scott Hansen: That's great.
Melody Goodspeed: Yes, that is great. Thank you for sharing. Scott, we want to thank you so much for talking through this with us and giving us a little bit of background of what you do, and just being so open in your advocacy. We just thank you so much. Again, everybody, my email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. We really do want to keep this going. Like I said, if you have questions, comments, or maybe you didn't have any, but you want to keep the conversation moving forward with the support for all of us, just put in the comment box, your email address, or just email me. We really appreciate your time and energy and great collaborations. Thank you, Scott, so much for hanging out with us.
Scott Hansen: Thank you. It was my pleasure. Again, if you forward your email to Melody and you have a question about any aspect of the hotel operations in general that I can answer specific to Marriott, she can forward them on to me, and I'm happy to address those. I really welcomed the collaboration of AFB and all of the participants on this call to help us create a better hotel experience for everyone.
Melody Goodspeed: Well, we thank you so much, Scott. Again, thank you so much, and we will keep this moving forward, and I hope that everyone has a great rest of your week.