Today, voice-activated technology is an integral part of a consumer’s everyday life. With the growth in smart homes, smart cars, smart everything, voice technology is here to stay. Consider this:
- 75 percent of U.S. families will own a smart speaker by 2025. (Source: Voicebot)
- The smart speaker market is set to surpass $30 billion by 2024. (Source: Market Watch)
- 71 percent of people who own a smart speaker use it at least once a day. (Source: Adobe)
- 72 percent of people who own a voice search device say it has become a part of their daily routine.
Perhaps that’s why 54 percent of hotel operators currently offer or plan to add voice-controlled devices to their guestrooms in 2023, according to the 2023 Lodging Technology Study from Hospitality Technology, and 61 percent say they believe voice-enabled devices are an emerging technology that should be given serious consideration going forward. This study represents professionals from more than 18,000 properties worldwide, including luxury, upscale, midscale and economy brands.
Delivering a Home-Like Experience
Multiproperty owner Sandy Wieber discussed how voice technology is benefiting her guests and her business. Wieber’s Bayfront Marin House in St. Augustine, Fla., began using in-room voice assistants—or, as she likes to call them, “electronic concierges”—in 2018.
Her rationale? “From a guest’s perspective, it is just another convenience," she said. "Frankly, I think that they expect it more than they consciously appreciate it, because they rely on it at home. A vacation should always be easy and stress-free, and a voice assistant lets them get information so fast they aren’t even aware of the effort to get it. It makes the experience more stress-free and really adds to the overall feeling of peace and relaxation.”
As hotels plan their voice strategy, in addition to delivering the conveniences of home to their guests, here are five things to keep in mind to create tangible benefits for hotels:
1. Streamline Operations
Today’s travelers still expect the same level of service they received pre-pandemic, whether the hotel is fully staffed or not. In-room voice assistants augment an already stretched staff by answering guest questions and expediting requests for more towels, setting wake-up calls and bringing their car to the front, for example, freeing the staff to handle more complicated requests.
2. Make Amenities More Accessible
Everyone should feel comfortable wherever they travel. And for anyone with mobility issues, vision limitations or other accessibility requirements, voice can help facilitate their stay. Whether it’s to adjust the in-room thermostat, eliminate getting up to turn the lights on or off or removing the need to walk back down to the front desk, voice technology is the great equalizer and can be harnessed to make hotel amenities available to more people. Voice commands bring power and control back to the guest, and it’s a good investment for your loyal customers.
3. Drive Additional Revenue
A voice assistant acts as a digital concierge. If guests ask for recommendations for a great restaurant or bar nearby, hotels can customize responses to include the on-site food and beverage options. The technology can also leverage the digital screen, which are included on some models, to run special promotions for spa treatments, dinner specials or room upgrades.
4. Replace Peripheral Room Equipment
Hoteliers can save both costs and clutter by replacing multiple in-room electronics, such as the phone, alarm clock, radio, charging stations and Bluetooth speakers with a single in-room voice assistant with all those capabilities.
5. Boost Satisfaction With Personalization
Voice technology brings the comforts of home into the hotel room, creating a better guest experience. With many guests familiar with the technology, it’s more convenient to speak a request than to make a call to ask for a late checkout, use a strange remote to change the TV channel or figure out the heating controls to make the room warmer.
Having hotel information at a guests’ fingertips improves the guest experience. Guests can simply ask a voice assistant: Can you set a wake-up call? Can you recommend a local steakhouse? Can you bring my car around and pick up my bags? The quick, automatic response is powerful for creating a positive stay. Hotels also have the option of routing these requests directly into a hotel’s workflow systems, freeing up time for hotel staff to manage more high-touch responsibilities.
Guests will always have the last word on what makes for a great stay. Give them a home-like experience while simultaneously saving costs and driving revenue.
Tammy Estes is chief product officer at Nomadix.