Amazon and Marriott Want to Modernize Hotel Experiences - InformationWeek
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Amazon and Marriott Want to Modernize Hotel Experiences

The hospitality industry wants to make travel experiences as "friction-free" as possible. Amazon and Marriott are advancing that concept by placing Amazon Echo speakers in hotel rooms so guests' desires can be fulfilled with mere utterances.

Amazon and Marriott International will start modernizing hotel stays this summer with Amazon Echo speakers that feature Alexa for Hospitality. Forget about bulky in-room binders and hotel service extension codes, including the front desk. Just sit back, relax and tell Alexa what you need or want.

"We think travelers will love having a voice-first experience during their stays at hotels," said an Amazon spokesperson. "This will enable travelers to access local and hotel information, as well as play music and control smart home products [including] lights, thermostat, TV, [and] blinds."

Alexa for Hospitality is designed for use at hotels, vacation rentals, and other hospitality organizations, although program participation is on an invitation-only basis at the present time. Participating hotels include select properties at Westin Hotels & Resorts, St. Regis Hotels & Resorts, Aloft Hotels and Autograph Collection Hotels.

Image: Amazon
Image: Amazon

Generally speaking, the hospitality industry is on a mission to provide frictionless travel experiences, which Alexa for Hospitality is designed to advance. To enable that within the context of Marriott hotels, Marriott's team worked with several of its properties to understand what guests want and what Alexa could do to make their stays more enjoyable. The feedback is also being used as the basis for new Alexa for Hospitality features, according to Marriott.

Bridging home life and hotel stays

Forrester estimates that the installed base of smart speakers in U.S. households will balloon from 26.2 million in 2018 to 66.3 million in 2022. In September 2017, the results of a Consumer Intelligence Research Partners survey showed that Amazon Echo had 75% market share, at least among the 300 Amazon Echo and Google Home owners who participated. Given the popularity of Amazon Echo devices, adding them as a hotel room amenity is just another way to make hotel stays even more of a "home away from home."

For example, Marriott guests will soon be able to connect their Amazon accounts to an in-room Echo to stream music from their favorite services. They will also be able to call Alexa contacts and listen to audiobooks on Audible. If a guest has connected their Amazon account to the in-room device, it will automatically disconnect upon checkout.

Even if hotel guests don't have an Amazon account, they will be able to use the Amazon Echo to get fast access to services. For example, if a guest needs towels, they can simply say, "Alexa, I need towels," not, "Alexis, tell the front desk I need towels." Rather than involving the front desk at all, Alexa for Hospitality interfaces with Marriott's property management system to alert the housekeeping staff. Similarly, guests will be able to request pool hours, fitness center locations and room service.

In addition, Marriott guests will have access to thousands of Alexa skills so they can check airport wait times, play games, take advantage of a guided workout, and play white noise for better sleep.

Apparently Marriott's recently-announced partnership with TED will also come into play when guests ask Alexa to play a TED Talk on mindfulness, creativity, or leadership.

Behind-the-scenes

Alexa for Hospitality allows administrators to control Echo hardware settings such as volume. They can also set default music stations from iHeart Radio that align with the hotel's brand.

If an Echo disconnects from the network, an alert is to the appropriate hotel personnel. Alexa for Hospitality also provides engagement analytics and enables a hotel partner to adapt services based on guest feedback.

 

Lisa Morgan is a freelance writer who covers big data and BI for InformationWeek. She has contributed articles, reports, and other types of content to various publications and sites ranging from SD Times to the Economist Intelligent Unit. Frequent areas of coverage include ... View Full Bio

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