Alexa has already taken up residence in millions of homes. Now, Amazon has announced that the virtual assistant will be making its way into hotel rooms too, with Marriott International becoming the first hotel operator to offer Alexa to its guests.
After its Starwood acquisition in 2016, Marriott International became the largest hotel company in the world. The Marriott International umbrella accounts for 20% of luxury and upper upscale hotels in Gartner L2’s Digital IQ Index: Luxury Hotels, and its namesake brand Marriott Hotels has secured the number one spot in the study for the past four years.
This isn’t the first time Alexa has been used in the hospitality space. In 2016, the Wynn Las Vegas equipped 5,000 rooms with Amazon Echoes. However, the Echoes only enabled simple tasks such as controlling the temperature or adjusting the drapes. Alexa for Hospitality enables guests to request room service, fresh towels, dinner reservations, and more without having to pick up the phone.
An impressive 61% of hotel apps analyzed in L2 research had an element of digital control, defined as any aspect of the in-stay experience managed from the app. Examples would be controlling the thermostat and TV, communication with the concierge, or keyless entry. Many of these functions could be replicated by a smart speaker like Alexa, which would be available on demand. This would make it superior to an app, which requires downloading, installing, and signing in…as well as knowing that it exists.
It’s also worth noting that smart speakers raise the specter of privacy issues, as a partnership with Alexa would mean data would likely be shared between Amazon and the hotel. In one recent incident, a Portland woman reported that Alexa recorded her conversations and sent them out to a contact. While hotels might be eager to invest in smart technology, they should also be mindful of such concerns.