Photo credit: Amazon for Hospitality
Imagine laying in your hotel room at night, ready for bed, wondering what time breakfast service starts the next morning. But instead of reaching over for the hotel phone, you simply turn your head and ask the Amazon Echo sitting on your bedside table.
"Breakfast starts at 7 am and ends at 10 am," Alexa quips.
Maybe you'll ask Alexa to order room service instead – or ask where the nearest restaurant is. Well, time to get some sleep.
"Alexa, set an alarm for 8 am."
Good thing they quit using those glaring alarm clocks you have to disconnect to get some darkness in the room. Finally, you ask Alexa to turn down the lights, increase the thermostat, and play some white noise to help you drift off. Hm, maybe you'll ask Alexa to order some fresh towels in the morning...
This is precisely the kind of guest experience that's already available in dozens of hotels across the country. Marriott, Hilton, InterContinental Hotels Group, AccorHotels and DestinationHotels are all currently testing out “smart rooms” to provide a more memorable, guest-centric service.
Alexa for Hospitality
Earlier this year, Amazon revealed Alexa for Hospitality which is designed to bring the power of voice to everything from chain hotels to vacation rentals.
Alexa can be customized to the hotel so guests can ask for relevant information like where the fitness center is located and what time dinner starts. They can also use Alexa to control in-room smart devices (lights, blinds, temperature) and request services without having to search for a member of staff – things like ordering fresh towels, room service, housekeeping, checking out, and so on.
According to Amazon, guests will soon be able to connect their hotel assistant with their personal Amazon account, allowing them to access their own music and audiobooks.
Third-party apps can also be added if a hotel has a particular partnership. For example, Marriott Hotels has partnered with TED so their business-centric guests can tap into TED Talks on everything from leadership to mindfulness.
Helping hotel staff provide better service
Alexa for Hospitality isn't only made to simplify the guest experience, but also to boost hotel staff's productivity.
Steve Sasso, general manager of the Motif Seattle Hotel, told Skift, “The entire hotel team, from the housekeepers and the bellmen to the engineers to guest services managers, are also using Alexa to manage their daily life tasks."
Housekeepers can use Alexa in-room to create a maintenance request, confirm if the room is ready for check-in, or ask for items they need on the job. Some hotels can even enable the use of Alexa as a panic button if a member of staff feels they're in danger (which happens more often than you'd think).
On the guest side, whenever Alexa receives a request the right team is immediately notified, allowing for more responsive service. General manager Steve Sasso explained,
“It reduces telephone call and unnecessary minutes spent on those types of things,” he said. “It certainly helps to improve efficiently and allows the team members to get things done in a quick and efficient manner and gives them more time to specialize in roles they want to specialize in.”
But does everyone want a voice assistant in their hotel room?
Naturally, the question of privacy continues to surface whenever "voice assistant" is mentioned.
So far, the hotels currently using Alexa for hospitality haven't reported any major toss ups from guests regarding their privacy, but the jury is still out on whether or not smart hotels are set to become the next standard for the hospitality industry.
For now, in terms of helping guests get the most out of their stay and streamlining tasks for hotel staff, Alexa is proving itself mighty convenient with a "Wow, that was easy" factor that guests are already loving. Has voice technology for hotels been perfected? Not even close. Should hotels keep using it as it evolves? Definitely.
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