Do you protest progress?

It’s no secret that change affects every industry, some more than others. You can protest that change, or you can look at the opportunities within it.

Recently, I was involved in a conference for travel executives, including hoteliers, destination management companies, and their clients. One panel addressed cutting edge technologies and how it is beginning to affect the industry. An example was how customers could check in to their hotel via their smart phone on the way to the hotel and get a bar code that would give them entry to their room. There would be no (or much reduced) need for front desk staff.

During Q&A, a young woman’s hand shot up — she protested this technology. She said it would eliminate jobs for young people who enter the industry through the front-desk. She asked the panelists not to support this technology.

I was surprised by her stance. Many job types have disappeared or been drastically reduced. How many blacksmiths do you know? Typewriter repair shops? Eight-track, cassette or VHS tape manufacturers? CDs are quickly disappearing. We could go on. Yet I’ve not heard an outcry from those in these industries. They learn new skills, move on to other jobs, retire, or make other choices. Protesting progress isn’t going to make business people say, “Yes, switching to automated check-in would put front desk staff out of work, so we aren’t going to do it.”

In the current economic climate it’s hard to see the elimination of any kind of job as positive. We need all the jobs companies can provide. But the longer term view is that as technology replaces some jobs, other ones — I’m thinking more interesting ones — will replace them.

Smart people don’t complain about the inevitable — they look for opportunities to use their skills and talents in a different way. Or they learn new skills. The key is to be conscious of the budding changes and retool yourself so you’re ready.

Who knows what new jobs the burgeoning technologies will produce? As we begin to see some end to the economic downturn, look how you can use your skills and talents in new ways so you’re not caught protesting progress.