In every guestroom at the newly opened LEGOLAND® Hotel at LEGOLAND® New York Resort in Goshen, N.Y., as well as in each guestroom at LEGOLAND® Hotel and LEGOLAND® Castle Hotel at LEGOLAND® California Resort in Carlsbad, Calif., guests are engaging with Hotel staff and services through Google’s voice-first hotel solutions on Google Nest Hubs with Volara’s engagement software. The post-COVID traveler demands contactless engagement with hotel staff. The staffing shortage demands hoteliers enable efficient automated interactive guest services. Google Nest Hubs with Volara meets these demands and serves as a contactless amenity with features that both parents and children can enjoy.
With the help of Google Assistant, guests are saying things like “Hey Google, call the front desk,” “Hey Google, bring me fresh towels,” “Hey Google, set a LEGO® alarm,” “Hey Google, tell me about the theme park,” or “Hey Google, can you recommend a place for breakfast?” and receiving answers immediately. They are inquiring about the poolside cabanas, birthday party packages, restaurant recommendations and directions to the airport. They are taking video tours of the LEGOLAND® theme parks before venturing out, so they know exactly where their favorite rides are located. They are watching their favorite creators on YouTube, listening to their favorite songs on YouTube Music, and connecting their personal mobile devices via Bluetooth to play their own music playlists through the symphonic speaker on the Google Nest Hub.
“The pandemic has changed the way people travel,” said Volara CEO David Berger. “As leisure travel continues to pick up dramatically, travelers are choosing hotels that are taking their health and the guest experience seriously. Forward-thinking companies like Merlin Entertainments are implementing innovative technologies that provide for a safe and rich guest experience at LEGOLAND® Hotels and Resorts. Leveraging Volara’s private and secure conversation management software that sits atop the Google Nest Hub, Merlin Entertainments is optimizing the way people enjoy their hotels and theme parks across the globe.”
Utilization of Nest Hubs with Volara has reimagined the in-room guest experience, even eliminating the need for high-touch items like bedside alarm clocks and telephones.
- 76.8% of Nest Hub devices with Volara at LEGOLAND® Hotels are used each day.
- 67.47% of those devices at LEGOLAND® Hotels that are engaged once are used three or more times per day.
- 25.38% of those devices at LEGOLAND® Hotels are used 13+ times each day.
- An average of ten hours of staff time are saved every day due to the automation of greetings, recommendations, and information sharing, as well as item and service requests by the Nest Hubs with Volara.
“We expected guests would use the solution for those utility functions every guest needs — from calling the front desk to alarms to requesting the information traditionally found in a guest services directory. What surprised us was that there have been so many power users,” Berger said. “Approximately two thirds of engaged devices are used more than three times per day, while approximately one quarter of all devices are being used 13 or more times per day. That’s a lot of guests having a lot of fun!”
While convenience is important, Merlin Entertainments is also committed to protecting guests’ privacy. LEGOLAND® Hotel guests are not required to sign into the Google Nest Hub device, and no activity is linked to guests’ personal accounts. Google Nest Hub is not equipped with a camera and the physical privacy switch on the device turns off the microphone. No audio is ever stored, and all activities are immediately wiped from the device when it is reset for the next guest.
Voice AI Driving Engagement
James Barton, Group Head of Business Transformation, Hotels at Merlin Entertainments, said people today want to feel safe when traveling. Under Barton’s leadership, LEGOLAND® Hotels are focused on giving guests the tools they need to reach out to management on their own terms — and he is seeing a preference for voice AI.
“Over the last nine years, the LEGOLAND® brand has grown exponentially because we are creating one-of-a-kind, immersive experiences that travelers appreciate,” Barton said. “As we continue to combat the disruption brought on by the pandemic, our partnership with companies like Volara and Google is helping us remain strong and better serve our customers.
“LEGOLAND Hotel at LEGOLAND® New York Resort, for example, opened without any telephones in the guestrooms. Guests will find the Nest Hubs with Volara to be an intuitive means of engaging with the hotel staff and services,” he said. “Instead of picking up the phone when guests need something, they just ask Google. The device is not only providing entertainment and satisfaction, but it is driving service optimization. Volara’s integration is helping us fulfill service requests more rapidly and providing us with actionable business intelligence to help us make data-driven decisions. If we see a spike in guests asking Google for more blankets, for example, we can start putting extra blankets in all rooms when the weather starts changing to cut back on service calls.”
Volara has also been providing LEGOLAND® Hotels an exciting way to extend the theme park experience to guestrooms, Barton said. Families can say “Hey Google, tell me a bedtime story.” Then, read in the voice of a LEGOLAND® character, the child is taken on an immersive adventure. Each room at LEGOLAND® Hotels also features a treasure chest filled with LEGO® treasure. Families can then interact with Google and set out on an in-room treasure hunt just by asking, “Hey Google, what’s my next clue?”
“We believe that if we can create the right experiences and make the sleepover memorable, then guests will be back,” Barton said. “Voice AI in rooms through Volara and Google is opening a whole world of opportunity to operators like us and it’s creating experiences that today’s travelers are craving.”