Amazon Alexa voice assistant system has been adopted by Marriott Hotels. Amazon has modified the software for hotel environment, and calls it Alexa for Hospitality. Marriott International has installed Alexa Echo devices in a few hotels in the US, and is in the process of continuing installations to more hotels.
The purpose of having a voice-controlled digital assistant in the hotel room is to delight guests from the moment they enter the room and ask the assistant to turn on the lights for them. Other things Alexa can do for guests are:
– Call the front desk.
– Make phone calls.
– Order room service.
– Check the hours when the pool is open.
– Get restaurant recommendations.
– Order items from a hotel lobby shop.
– Ask Alexa to play music.
The list of features will grow longer as the project with Marriott gains feedback from customers and hotel personnel.
The video clip from Cnet below shows you Alexa for Hospitality voice assistant in action in a hotel room:
Someone may find the features Alexa for Hospitality has at the moment quite useful, but many travelers will also ponder: where is the beef? Surely, this has to be a start for something that will actually become a helpful service for travelers. Now, it is only a fun demonstration of Alexa voice assistant in a hotel room.
A few things that would really help a business or weekend traveler would be, for instance, “turn on the tv, and find a channel that shows the Tour of France”, “get me a taxi at the front door in half an hour”, “give me instructions for walking to the nearest underground station, and tell me how do I get a ticket”, “tell me all the major news back home”, “what is the etiquette in this country, do I have to bring a gift to my hosts”.
Amazon has plans to allow guests to connect their personal Amazon accounts to the Alexa system in the hotel room, allowing access to personal features, like Audible audiobooks, Spotify playlists, and Pandora. Alexa for Hospitality has been designed to disconnect from the guest’s Amazon account at checkout.
An ordinary traveler who doesn’t mind sharing his or her personal details to the world will be delighted when Alexa does its magic in a hotel room (assuming that the traveler doesn’t have an accent that Alexa can not recognize – here is an example from a native English speaking person).
A traveler who knows about technology or how big technology companies make money will be worried about his or her privacy when there is a voice assistant in the same hotel room. Alexa, Apple Siri, Microsoft Cortana, and Google’s voice assistant are all connected to the Internet. The devices are connected, because they send the requests from users to powerful server computers that return the answers in a flash.
Additionally, voice assistants must be listening all the time to all the conversations in the room because they have to respond when they hear their name mentioned.
Even more, the companies that have developed the smart assistants collect and store data from user interactions in order to make the systems better. The stored data doesn’t necessarily identify individuals, but it is used, at least, in software development (sure, you can call it AI or artificial intelligence as well).
Amazon and Marriott have thought about this and say that no voice data will be shared, and all data will be deleted daily. If the digital assistant devices in hotel rooms are tampered, hotel staff is notified.
Additionally, it is possible to switch off the Alexa device if there is one in your room, or ask for a room without a voice assistant.