Best Western is testing voice-activated rooms

Following in the footsteps of Marriott and Wynn Resorts, Best Western Hotels & Resorts is testing the use of Amazon Dot devices in its hotels for guests and employees. The voice-activated devices can be used to communicate with the hotel—and that includes ordering roomservice, checking the weather or reporting issues with the room. Alexa is an intelligent personal assistant developed by Amazon, made popular by the Amazon Echo and the Amazon Echo Dot devices, which can operate as a guestroom automation system.

“The Amazon Alexa is the future,” said David Kong, president and CEO of Best Western Hotels and Resorts, during the NYU International Hospitality Industry Investment Conference, held at the Marriott Marquis, in New York, earlier this week. “In the future, that’s how the guest might want to interact with us. Right now, people are into messaging, but in the future, it’s going to be artificial intelligence and voice activation.”

Kong added that Best Western is not currently developing a mobile app, calling them so numerous on a person's phone that most aren't even used. "We think about every step in customer journey," he said. In regards to an app, "How many do they actually use?" he queried. Lets rethink how to use the phone. It's not about an app, but messaging. How do we build better communication?" He referenced sending a welcome message, or other welcoming or departing touch.

Technology plays a key part in every step of the customer journey, Kong said. He also believes it has potentially great use for a hotel's employees, citing how the Dot can help hotel staff, such as housekeeping. Members of the hotel staff can use it to report whether or not the room is clean or if any maintenance is required for it.
Best Western, like other hotel companies, continually searches for how to use technology to reach guests and enrich their stay. For instance, using Facebook to deliver new bookings. Kong said his company is more and more turning to social media as a channel to reach prospective customers looking for travel options.

Other tactics Best Western employs includes leveraging user-generated content, which Dorothy Dowling, Best Western's SVP and CMO, calls "far more important than your own curated content." Best Western also leverages bloggers and YouTube to disseminate its brand message and promise; it also engages a roster of social media "influencers" to spread its word.


Other Adapters

Wynn Las Vegas and Amazon equipped all 4,748 hotel rooms at Wynn Las Vegas with Echo, Amazon's hands-free voice-controlled speaker. The introduction of this technology into every guestroom, which began in December, was the first hotel brand to allow guests to control various hotel room features with a series of voice commands via Alexa, the brain behind Echo.

Earlier this year, Marriott International tested Amazon Alexa-powered devices as well as Apple's Siri-powered options at its Aloft hotel in Boston’s Seaport district to decide which is the best for letting guests turn on lights, close drapes, increase or decrease room temperature, and even flip through TV channels using only their voice. The JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa, a Texas property with 1,002 rooms, has installed Alexa devices in 10 of its most popular rooms, with plans to equip an additional 100 rooms later.