With Alexa for Hospitality, Marriott adds Amazon to the guest experience

Alexa for Hospitality
Alexa for Hospitality. Photo credit: Amazon

Amazon is coming to a Marriott guestroom near you.

Nearly seven months after announcing Alexa for Business, Amazon has launched Alexa for Hospitality, a new program that provides hoteliers with an Amazon Echo to act as a voice-activated virtual concierge in each room. 

“Alexa for Hospitality is a set of tools that will let hotels build immersive experiences with Alexa right into the hotel context, the brand context and the guest stay,” said Amazon VP Daniel Rausch at a New York preview of the program’s functionality. The platform offers integrations with back-office systems, housekeeping, the concierge and front desk—all services that hotels are already offering, he said—and making them accessible through voice interaction. 

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Over the last few months, Amazon quietly installed Alexa devices in a few hotels like the Wynn Las Vegas as part of a pilot program to gauge guest feedback, said Rausch. “It’s given us some data to know that we should lean in even more and double-down,” he said. According to Rausch, almost 90 percent of customers that have used an in-room Alexa rated it between “good” and “excellent” on feedback surveys, and more than 70 percent of guests said that when booking hotels in the future, they would choose Alexa-enabled rooms if they were available. The guest feedback was then used to develop the hospitality-specific program for a broader scale, and the updated platform is ready to roll out.

What it Does

Alexa in a New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge guestroom
Alexa in a New York Marriott at the Brooklyn
Bridge guestroom
Photo credit: Jena Tesse Fox

Guests staying in Alexa-enabled rooms arrive in rooms with the devices muted, just in case they would rather not use the service. Once they have activated the device, they can ask it for hotel-specific information (pool hours or location, for example), request amenities or call the front desk or concierge. The device also lets guest control and adjust the room’s lighting, temperature, blinds, and TVs. Hotels can create customized playlists with local music, and can put limits on guest requests to prevent problems at the end of the stay. At the demonstration, Rausch requested a delivery of 20 toothbrushes to the room, but Alexa informed him that the hotel had placed a limit of five toothbrushes on in-room orders. He adjusted his request to a single toothbrush, and a hotel staff member delivered it 10 minutes later. The device became a speakerphone to the front desk when he asked to extend his stay, letting him speak to a person who handled his request. 

Alexa for Hospitality works with existing hotel technologies and hospitality solution providers. Programs developed by DigiValet, Intelity, Nuvola, and Volara let guests order wine or book spa appointments by voice commands, with requests routed to property management, point of sale, and guest request systems for fulfillment. The platform also works with guestroom entertainment providers including World Cinema and GuestTek for voice control of TVs and in-room control of connected devices using Crestron and Inncom by Honeywell. When a guest is ready to end a stay, “Alexa, check me out” eliminates the need to stop by the front desk—and alerts the hotel team that the room is ready for turnover, making it easier for the hotel to get the next guest settled sooner.

As with customer-focused Alexa devices, the in-room units can also play music or provide general information (airport wait times, white noise to fight insomnia, etc.) Unlike customer-focused Alexa devices, guests cannot shop on Amazon by voice, even when they do connect their personal accounts to the in-room unit—a functionality that is likely to roll out within the year. Once connected, guests will be able to play their personal music from services including Amazon Music, Spotify, and Pandora and listen to audiobooks with Audible. When a guest checks out, the device is programmed to automatically disconnect his or her Amazon account from the in-room unit, wiping the platform for the next guest to use. 

Hoteliers can also use Alexa for Hospitality to measure engagement through analytics and adapt services based on guest feedback. And, of course, guests who do not wish to use the device can leave it muted throughout their stay, or can unplug it entirely for extra security. 

Alexa at Marriott

Alexa for Hospitality is available to hotels starting today. Marriott International will roll out the program at select properties in Marriott Hotels, Westin Hotels & Resorts, St. Regis Hotels & Resorts, Aloft Hotels and Autograph Collection Hotels starting this summer. Notably, each brand will get Alexas that are customized to the flag’s target demographic—for example, Alexa devices in wellness-focused Westin hotels will have meditation playlists and recommendations for jogging paths. Marriott will be able to leverage its Amazon partnership with other relationships—specifically, the flagship brand’s partnership with TED will let guests request a TED Talk to listen to. "We're opening a new channel and an interface that we think will become increasingly important for consumers," said Jennifer Hsieh, VP of customer experience innovation at Marriott International.

"Our job as a brand...is to look and see what those moments are that will be most compelling for [guests], and then, how do we bring the information in the right way?" The primary uses seen in the pilot program, she said, were when guests went to bed at night and woke up in the morning—setting alarms or starting playlists with a verbal command.

“We think about how our guests interact with technology in their homes today, and how do you bring that forward in the right and relevant way in the hotel experience?” said Hsieh. “There are compelling components of the [guest] experience that Alexa for Hospitality delivers.” The Charlotte Marriott City Center and Marriott Irvine Spectrum will be among the first of the company’s hotels to use the new platform, and Marriott will evaluate guest feedback and adoption to inform how it expands the functionality. "We'll find the most compelling components and refine them," said Hsieh.

Amazon will offer volume discounts on the devices and platform for larger-scale businesses, Rausch said, but could not say what the price-per-unit would be for each hotel.