Elevating change, or, who’s got the button?

About ten days ago, I got to stay at the Hyatt Regency Vancouver while my wife was attending a conference. As we left registration, we encountered a new experience–at the elevator.

What I saw

We walked to the bank of 5 elevators to find… no call button. We weren’t the only ones not finding it; the elevator lobby was full of people who’d just checked in and so hadn’t yet gone up to a room. A bellman diplomatically showed us a wall-mounted panel. It was one of three or four — one at each side of the elevator lobby, two positioned between elevators.

Screen-based electronic panel used to select elevator destinations at the Hyatt Vancouver Hotel.
Elevator call station: the lobby version

The screen has five choices (plus a “you are here” area at the bottom that sure looks like another choice). Four of them will talk you to floors with meeting rooms, restaurants, and similar facilities. The bellman demonstrated, again and again, the need to  press “Guest Floors.” That produces this grid:Screen-based electronic panel showing guest floors at the Hyatt Vancouver Hotel.When you press the box for your floor, you get yet another screen:

Electronic screen directing you to stand at elevator A.The diagram in the photo is telling you to please use elevator A. There’s a little arrow to guide you from where the panel is to the elevator in question. As people select different floors, this electronic sorting hat directs them to different elevators.

Once inside the elevator car: no floor buttons, no floor lights. On either side of the door, a screen (the “car annunciator,” I’ve learned) displays the floors where the car is programmed to stop.

I was too confused to take a photo on my first trip up; here’s one from a trip down to the lobby from the sixth floor. From a busy lobby, elevator A’s annunciator might show 6, 8, 12, 14, while elevator C might have 4, 7, 9, 16.

Electronic indicator in an elevator car displaying L for Lobby.What I thought

My first impression: “This is nuts.”

The Hyatt has over 600 rooms and was hosting a conference. We and many others checked in shortly after noon. Few in the lobby seemed familiar with this style of elevator, which explained the bellman’s patient, repeated demonstrations of how to get to your floor. Nor had it quite sunk in that I’d find a similar panel on each room floor.

Screen-based electronic panel used to select elevator destinations at the Hyatt Vancouver Hotel.The only difference is that the bottom choice no longer reads “you are currently in the lobby.” There’s nothing here to tell you you’re on the sixth floor — but you got here somehow, right, so you should know.

It was disconcerting to enter the sixth-floor elevator for the first time each day and find no floor buttons at all. And especially that first day, I couldn’t see the point. I suspected it had a lot more to do with hotel efficiency than guest expectations, but I didn’t have any evidence for that… yet.

…That’s what I saw the first day, and what I thought about it.

I kept coming back to the experience, to the technology, and to my reactions. In my next post, I’ll share things I’ve learned about destination-dispatch elevator technology, along with some more nuanced reactions and a notion or two in terms of who’s managing and who’s changing.

(This is a first post about destination-dispatch elevators;
here’s the second.)

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