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Have you ever looked at the invisibles?

Di Job in Tourism, 29 Gennaio 2015

Hyatt Regency Atlanta, built in the Seventies, is regarded by many as the first true atrium hotel, based on a design model which later became very influential. Large hotels provide an incredibly wide range of services, and they may intimidate and confuse guests. On the contrary, a well-designed atrium model offers numerous advantages in terms of wayfinding, as the hotel lobby actually turns into a large open space which allows a view of the facility’s key elements. Some of the best designs allow to simultaneously locate the restaurants, the meeting areas, the main reception, the concierge desk, the lifts and the rooms.
This is explained in a book by David Zweig which I read recently: Invisibles: The Power of Anonymous Work in an Age of Relentless Self-Promotion, whose Italian translation Invisibili has been published by Egea. The first chapter is among the most interesting for those who work in tourism, as it deals with wayfinding, something that could translate into “the art of allowing people to orient themselves”. The size and requirements of American hotels are certainly different from ours, but this is not the point.
In this technical description I found a warm sense of hospitality. A hotel designed to guide people safely, to make them feel comfortable. That is, at home.
I perceived the same sense of service and hospitality in the analysis of invisible jobs, which makes up the fundamental part of the book. Invisible jobs are those we notice only when things are not going well. In an age like ours, pervaded by a quest for visibility at all costs, there exist professionals who choose not to be seen, though drawing satisfaction from their work.
Even if the book is not about tourism, my mind has gone to all the jobs that are essential to ensure the good functioning of a hotel. The aspects that are only noticed by guests when something is not working well.
I would like every “invisible” hotel worker to read this book and feel proud of his or her job; and those who enjoy or seek visibility should remember that they are just a small cog in the large wheel of the customer experience hotels want to offer their guests.
Finally, let me thank Mariana Di Salle, coordinator of the Master in Tourism Economics at Bocconi University, who – possibly because she knew my inclination towards understatement – gave me this book.

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