Amazon has a new version of Alexa for hotels. Elizabeth Keatinge has more.
The nightstand iPad was once the most advanced technological feature in a hotel guestroom.
Now, Amazon is stepping in to change that. This week, Amazon announced that it has developed Alexa for Hospitality, a new version of its Amazon Echo smart speaker, for hotels, vacation rental companies and other players in the hospitality field. The voice-activated virtual assistant device that many people have adopted in their homes to play music, keep track of their schedules, and give them news headlines and weather reports is making its way into hotel rooms.
So far, Marriott International has signed on to test the new product this summer at select properties in several of its brands. Among the specific hotels that Alexa is testing the product: the Charlotte Marriott City Center in North Carolina and the Marriott Irvine Spectrum in California. It will also be featuring the product in eight other U.S. properties among brands such as Westin Hotels and Resorts, St. Regis Hotels and Resorts, Aloft Hotels, and its Autograph Collection of independent hotels.
Two Roads Hospitality, which has brands such as Thompson Hotels, is also testing out the new Alexa.
“Customers tell us they love how easy it is to get information, enjoy entertainment, and control connected devices by simply asking Alexa, and we want to offer those experiences everywhere customers want them,” says Daniel Rausch, vice president of Amazon.
Amazon says these are among the functions Alexa can offer to hotel guests if they ask:
- Controlling smart room devices, such as lights, curtains, the thermostat, and television set
- Ordering and playing music
- Booking spa appointments
- Calling the concierge for recommendations
- Booking reservations
- Finding out where hotel amenities such as the restaurant and pool, are located, as well as what their hours are
- Learning how to access the Wi-Fi networks
- Setting timers, wake up calls and more
- Calling maintenance and housekeeping for towels, refreshments, etc.
“On-demand, voice-first service is an exciting frontier that is currently in its infancy for the hospitality industry,” Tracey Schroeder, vice president of global consumer public relations for Marriott, said in an email. “Our guests regularly tell us they want the same conveniences they have at home to be present when they travel – and deploying Alexa for Hospitality in some of our properties is one way we are responding to that point.”
Even before Amazon developed this new product, hotels have been adopting Alexa. For Instance, the Inn at the Pier in Pismo Beach, which opened last year, has had an Alexa in each room since its debut.
Marriott is expecting Alexa to address such questions and requests as: “Alexa, what’s the weather?”, “Alexa, play music”, “Alexa, clean my room,” and “Alexa, turn on the lights.”
So far, Two Roads Hospitality is trying out Alexa for Hospitality at two of its properties, Thompson Seattle and The Liaison Capitol Hill, a Joie de Vivre hotel in Washington, D.C.
The company plans to roll out Alexa for Hospitality at additional North American properties throughout this year and into 2019. It may even expand it internationally.
“Natural voice commands will enable efficient check-outs, in-room dining and housekeeping requests, voice-activated valet services and in-room control of lighting, temperature and more,” says Andrew Arthurs, senior vice president and chief information officer for Two Roads Hospitality. “Guests may now get quick answers to many of their questions— such as the hotel’s Wi-Fi password and restaurant hours — without having to pick up the phone, dial and wait for a response. In the meantime, our staff spends less time on the phone and more time with our guests.”
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