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Hotel Alexa: you'll never leave
What is it?What is it about?
Amazon has launched Alexa for Hospitality, a programme which aims to place its Alexa voice recognition technology and Echo devices inside hotel rooms.
As you would expect, it's an extension of the consumer Alexa proposition into hotel estates and chains. Marriott is the first chain to run with it, with the service launching across Marriott, Westin and other company brands in the summer (we're not sure yet as to whether this is US-only or worldwide).
Customers with Amazon accounts will be able to link their personal accounts to the Echo, and thus sync their existing Alexa history and settings with the device. (We hope that there is a feature which automatically disconnects the user account on checkout).
Voice commands include requests to change lighting and other ambient conditions in the room, as well as make requests for hotel services such as booking a spa. It's basically an automated concierge - all of the stuff that you used to dial zero and ask someone to do can now be done through the conical Bezos-o-tron.
Why should you know about it?
This is a natural extension for Amazon, which can now industrialise Alexa into a sector which is the most immediately logical. If done well, it should offer an improved brand experience and even opportunities for upsell, thus increasing the average revenue per stay.
There are two concerns. The most obvious is that of customer privacy. Do consumers want an always-on listening device in their rooms? The more ethically interested hotels would educate their guests on how to use it, along with a guide to switching it off. After aill, even if you don't interact with it, if you have the device on, then you have chosen to use it by default.
The second concern is the potential deskilling of customer service staff. Will fewer reception staff be required, as bookings become automated? Also, further to the first point, does Amazon keep a record of hotel interactions made, so it will know how many people booked the spa over a given weekend?
There are lots to think about here, and as most consumers aren't really aware of any of these issues, the challenge for brands and planners is where the value truly lies in Alexa becoming the hotel concierge.