Voice technology is disrupting hotel guest engagement and redefining how services are delivered. Industry reports – like the recently released Buyers Guide from HotelTechReport – show the future will be controlled by voice, as smart speakers (including Amazon Echo, Google Home and Alibaba Genie) are fast becoming an expected guestroom amenity. Hotels are weaving these devices into their operations as a means of enhancing the guest experience, driving efficiencies and offering added conveniences for travelers and staff alike. But as voice technology becomes more ubiquitous, privacy concerns abound
With 47.3 million people, or nearly one in five adults, in the United States currently owning a smart speaker (according to voicebot), it’s a safe bet that many of these consumers will expect – and even demand – an interactive voice experience when they travel – especially in their hotel rooms. Determining which voice technology provider to partner with can be confusing, but guest privacy and data security are table stakes.
Here are 8 important questions to ask providers when shopping for a voice technology solution:
1. How are you protecting the privacy of my guests? Are recordings associated with our guests’ personally identifiable information (PII)?
2. How are you protecting the security of my hotel’s proprietary data? Are there any integrations with a platform that may use this data for remarketing? If so, how are you protecting my guests from this practice?
3. Many travelers have unique accents or dialects that aren’t well understood by popular voice assistants. Does your solution improve the accuracy of interactions?
4. How are you measuring ROI? How will your solution drive efficiencies and increase revenues?
5. How will voice technologies impact my guests’ experiences? How do I ensure my hotel maintains the relationship with its guests? Can I easily change and update interactions with my guests once deployed?
6. How much flexibility do I have to change Natural Language Processing providers over time? Or select different providers for different properties?
7. How is data presented back to hotel management? Is it available in real time and in aggregated reporting to enable improved decision making?
8. How does this scale? Will the solution be brand consistent, yet locally tailored, across my entire portfolio?
When engaging guests with voice technology, especially in private areas like guestrooms, it is important that hoteliers understand how the technology works. Ensuring that the solution is protecting guests’ privacy is not optional. Secondary, but also important to achieve the return on investment, is ensuring that guest requests are properly received and routed to the hotel’s existing task-management software for seamless communication and collaboration. Without the right integrations, even the best product can add complexity and cost. Hoteliers need to make sure any vendor they consider has the integrations they need to set their team up for success.
About the Author:
Volara is a provider of voice technology for the hospitality industry, with deployments in properties such as the Viceroy Los Cabos, Westin Buffalo, Thompson Seattle, Motif Seattle, Best Western Hawthorne Terrace, Aloft Hotel Dublin Pleasanton, The Edwin by Marriott’s Autograph Collection, and EMC2 by Marriott’s Autograph Collection. In September, Marriott International named Volara its official and exclusive partner for its pilots of voice technologies. Volara has achieved the Alexa for Business Solution Service Delivery Designation and is a launch partner for Alexa for Hospitality.