Wednesday, May 5, 2010

No Laptops Allowed...the Other Side of the Technology Debate

any sessions of IACC's Annual Summit last month in Chicago concerned technology, social media, and their ever-growing role in the conference center and meetings industry.  Many conference centers are recognizing that clients desire more technology in their meetings because it allows them to work faster, smarter, and also connect with more people that are not present at the meeting.  However, there is a flip side to these benefits.  Sometimes, people just want to disconnect and shut off their computers.  Read on to learn about a California restaurant owner who refuses to let patrons use laptops while dining.  Leave comments as to your thoughts...are you pro-laptops at casual restaurants and cafes, or would you rather disconnect?

From Hospitality Net, May 1, 2010:

San Francisco Bay Area café owner bans laptops. The owner of a North Oakland café is asking customers to leave their laptops at home and actually speak to each other, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

“When we opened this place we wanted to create a community. Instead it’s just been a room full of laptops,” said Sal Bednarz, who opened Actual Café in January. “I don’t have anything against technology, but it’s not the same as looking someone in the eye and pressing the flesh.”

Weekends only patrons (so far) who flip open their laptops will be asked to unplug, sign off and log out. They’ll be encouraged to sit at communal tables and chat. Customers, when pried away from their computer screens Friday afternoon, said they were thrilled at the idea. They said they’re tired of their laptops, iPods and cell phones, too. How is this bold initiative working out? Here are some random comments from customers:

  • “When I get away from the computer, it’s a relief."
  • “(A patron without a computer) I’m looking forward to meeting my fellow café denizens.”
  • Laptops cut people off. I think it forms a social divide. Technology’s great, but there’s a serious social impact.”
  • “Chatting is now starting to overcome the keystrokes (says the manager at nearby Nomad). It’s really changed the feeling of the place. It’s really nice.”
The owner of Nomad Café - - a neighborhood competitor that opened in 2003 - - became so disenchanted with laptops that he reduced the number of electrical outlets to one.

Perhaps the most compelling reason of all behind the Actual Café taking this step might be to discourage patrons from buying a two dollar cup of coffee and spending all day using a table that could be taken by a customer purchasing lunch, visiting with friends or otherwise spending money and then leaving.

Remember to leave comments about what you think!

No comments:

Post a Comment