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What Amazon’s ‘Alexa For Hospitality’ Means For Hotels, Guests, And Marketers

“Marriott has a long track record of innovating for our guests, and we’re thrilled to be among the first to offer Alexa for Hospitality,” said Jennifer Hsieh, VP for Customer Experience Innovation at Marriott International, Alexa For Hospitality's launch partner.

Several months after Marriott began testing Amazon Echo and its voice activated assistant Alexa in its hotels, the full roll out of Alexa For Hospitality is here — and with it, the promise of making artificial intelligence-powered digital assistants a feature in every guest room.

Alexa for Hospitality is described as a new experience offered by invitation to hoteliers from Amazon. Using the Amazon Echo in their hotel rooms, guests can now ask Alexa for hotel information, contact the hotel to request guest services, play music in their room and more.

For hotels, Alexa for Hospitality “helps deepen guest engagement through seamless voice-first experiences that offer new ways for guests to access services and amenities during their stay,” Amazon says.

Alexa for Hospitality is available to hospitality providers by invitation starting today, with Marriott International introducing the new Alexa experience at select properties in Marriott Hotels, Westin Hotels & Resorts, St. Regis Hotels & Resorts, Aloft Hotels, and Autograph Collection Hotels starting this summer.

“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,” said Daniel Rausch, VP, for Smart Home Services at Amazon. “Alexa for Hospitality makes your hotel stay a little more like being at home and gives hospitality providers new ways to create memorable stays for their guests.”

“Marriott has a long track record of innovating for our guests, and we’re thrilled to be among the first to offer Alexa for Hospitality,” says Jennifer Hsieh, VP Customer Experience Innovation at Marriott International. “So many of our guests use voice technology in their home, and we want to extend that convenience to their travel experience. Guests of Charlotte Marriott City Center and Marriott Irvine Spectrum will be among the first to experience a curated list of Alexa for Hospitality features. We will be evaluating guest feedback and adoption to inform how we expand the skills, features, and functionality offered through Alexa in our hotels.”

An Extended Booking Experience

The hospitality industry, from hotels to restaurants to reservation services, have been steadily exploring the implications of voice-activation to keep pace with what travelers want and expect. It’s also seen as a way of surprising visitors with greater amenities without having to install complicated technology or partner with platforms that have dubious scalability. (Amazon notes that “Alexa for Hospitality is built to work with existing hotel technologies, reducing or eliminating the need to retrofit or upgrade existing investments, and works with a range of trusted hospitality solution providers.”)

Marriott has been particularly aggressive in experimenting with technologies that meet guests’ needs for personalization, experimenting with everything from beacons to tablets in rooms to better connect and build loyalty with travelers who stay with them.

The rapid rise of Connected Intelligence and the digital voice assistants that provide direct answers to users’ search queries and requests also calls into the question how people will use the apps.

Instead of pressing buttons on a virtual box on a smartphone, apps will be ever-present in the background of users’ lives, ready act when a service is called upon or even anticipating what a consumer wants before they even ask for it.

That is something Marriott recognizes and has sought to develop quickly, a representative for the hotel chain told GeoMarketing last year when the brand was embarking on its first test of Alexa in its guest rooms.

“Our CX (customer experience) Innovation team is exploring the breadth and potential of AI – from reasoning, knowledge, planning, learning, and natural language processing,” the Marriott rep said at the time.

“We have early tests in market on natural language processing with digital assistants,” the Marriott rep added. “For us, this is particularly interesting because our guests are quickly adopting this technology and intelligence in their lives today. For example, people use their phone to ask for directions, order products before you even know you need them or have translation easily available.”

As for booking services through channels like Alexa, Marriott isn’t going that far (yet, at least). At the moment, artificial intelligence agents like Alexa are strictly viewed as a complement to existing ways of providing guest services.

“For Marriott, we’re excited to test what it means to bring the voice activated technology into the guest room so guests can request services, learn about the local area, and perform general informational tasks like asking for the weather or setting an alarm for the next morning,” Marriott has said.

In addition to Marriott, Alexa for Hospitality is also working with vacation rental companies like RedAwning and boutique lifestyle properties within the Two Roads Hospitality portfolio including Thompson Hotels, Joie de Vivre, Destination Hotels, and Alila to manage their property experiences and engage with guests.

Features developed by DigiValet, Intelity, Nuvola, and Volara allow guests to make requests like “Alexa, order wine,” or “Alexa, book a spa appointment,” with requests routed to hotel property management systems. Alexa for Hospitality also works with guest room entertainment platforms and networks such as World Cinema and GuestTek for voice control of TV experiences, and in-room control of connected devices using Crestron and Inncom by Honeywell.

About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of GeoMarketing.com. A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.