Alexa for Hospitality: Your Newest Hotel Staff Member
Once every few years, the world gets its hands on a piece of technology that really makes jaws drop. Of late this phenomenon has started to occur annually, keeping tech buffs, such as myself, on the edge of our seats counting down the days to the next update or a replacement to an already existing piece of technology.
The hospitality landscape is no stranger to this phenomenon. One such development is voice automation. Amazon definitely proved to be a visionary when earlier this year, they launched their voice assistant Alexa for Hospitality.
Think of the device as a personal butler for the guests staying at your hotel. Now, imagine having one device for every room your property has and what you get is an extremely personalized experience.
What’s the set-up like?
Well, it’s pretty simple. On the one hand you have the echo device, which is what your guests will be interacting with and on the other is the centralized console to which all of your echo devices are connected. This centralized console claims to be able to manage over a 100 devices, allowing you to:
- Specify device volume and settings
- Check the devices state (On/Off)
- And remotely reset devices, prepping for the next guest
How smart is it?
Amazon has gone ahead and taught the device a couple of skills relevant to hotels. Some of them are:
- Contacting the front desk
- Ordering room service
- Helping guests with checkouts
- Ordering some provisions
Of course, Alexa can learn more. Amazon provides you with the tools, documentation and code samples that can help you teach the device skills based on the most common demands of your guests. For instance, it can book a guest an Uber, read them the news, and automate electronics in the guest room to respond to guest commands.
Alexa is also capable of redirecting guests' commands to the right department in the hotel, enabling your staff to focus more on guest experience and improving it. If you’re under the misconception that the echo can’t make a conversation with your guests, I’m guessing you have never spoken to one. It’s smart, and how smart it can get, is all on you. This may be a skill that you will have to develop over time, but Alexa can be trained to give some really witty replies. A great addition to this package is that users can sync their Amazon Prime accounts to watch their favorite shows and have access to their own playlists and audiobooks.
Is it worth it?
Let me be honest, the echo is no replacement for your hotel staff, but it is a great addition to the hotel. The thing with AI and machine learning is that it gets smarter by the day. There are no off days, no calling in sick and no unproductive days, just things it can and cannot do as of this moment. But you know technology, it will get better.
Why adopt it now?
Well, the underlying advantage is data. Over time, data can not only help the machine learn but also help you derive insights that are sure to help you on the guest experience front. Yes, it is true that the device will be feature-rich in the future, but that skill for personalizing guest experience will only come over time. The sheer number of tasks that the echo can be taught is, in a way, an extension of your imagination. I wouldn’t say you need to be a risk taker to adopt the echo as part of your staff but it requires some out of the box thinking to use this technology well.
Yes, Alexa can notify you about the two extra pillows needed in Room No. 305, or the large pizza with extra cheese that Mark ordered, but why restrict Alexa to the trivial?
If you have been having trouble collecting guest reviews, you could set up a simple Q&A for Alexa to ask your guest a series of questions during the check-out. Or maybe go one step deeper and get Alexa to prompt the elderly couple staying at your hotel to take their medicines at the right time. Maybe even act as a tour guide, suggesting the tourists staying at your hotel, the must-see sights in and around the city.
Who knows, over time the Echo could learn enough to personalize the way it communicates with your repeat guests, referring to them by their first name and prompting them about ordering in their favorite meal or drink. In fact, why even call it Alexa? Personalize the wake word* for the echo and call it what you want.
*Wake word is the keyword that activates the echo.