In a world of strangers, the act of recognizing who you are has value. But increasingly, that personalized greeting is becoming commoditized, from customized spam messages, to automated birthday greetings, to the spread of retail chains, with their habit of shouting your name when your order is ready. Increasingly, this trend toward the value of commoditized recognition will be supplemented by facial recognition software.
When everyone is known by name, the value of being known shifts to the extremes. In the context of that moment in the URBN Hotel, having the receptionist refuse to take and copy my passport—in addition to her not taking my credit card—would have increased the hotel’s commitment to our relationship. It would have been a truly personal touch, putting the hotel legally on the line. It would have become “our secret.”„