Amazon's first official foray into the travel industry for a
few years is here, with Alexa for Hospitality bringing the voice-activated device
into hotel rooms.
The ecommerce giant's Echo will enable guests to ask
questions about hotel information, contact guest services, play music in their
room and tap into other hotel-related services.
The service is initially available to hoteliers by
invitation only, Amazon says, with Marriott International being one of the
product's launch customers for deployment at a number of its properties in the
Marriott, Westin, St Regis, Aloft and Autograph Collection brands.
In addition to connecting with hotel-based services and
tools, guests can talk to Alexa to take control of in-room services such as
lights, thermostats, blinds and entertainment.
Existing Alexa "skills" can also be customized by
the property for inclusion on each device.
Roll-out and additional features
Amazon, which hopes to see the first devices put into use
during the summer of 2018, says it later will allow guests to connect their
existing Amazon accounts to the in-room devices so that they can play music
from their own playlists or listen to audiobooks.
The Alexa for Hospitality service is also being extended to
vacation rental companies (RedAwning) for inclusion in their properties.
The new Alexa devices have been created by Amazon to connect
with in-house hotel technology and platforms, Amazon says, "eliminating
the need to retrofit or upgrade existing investments".
In addition, features for hotels developed by existing
providers such as DigiValet, Intelity, Nuvola or Volara will allow guests to
make requests on those platforms via the in-room devices.
Amazon vice president Daniel Rausch says: "Customers
tell us they love how easy it is to get information, enjoy entertainment and
control connected devices by simply asking Alexa, and we want to offer those
experiences everywhere customers want them.
"Alexa for Hospitality makes your hotel stay a little
more like being at home and gives hospitality providers new ways to create memorable
stays for their guests."
Marriott says many of its guests are already using
voice-activated technology in their homes, so it wants to "extend that
convenience to their travel experience."
Jennifer Hsieh, vice president customer experience innovation
at Marriott International, says: "Guests of Charlotte Marriott City Center
and Marriott Irvine Spectrum will be among the first to experience a curated
list of Alexa for Hospitality features.
"We will be evaluating guest feedback and adoption to
inform how we expand the skills, features, and functionality offered through
Alexa in our hotels."
Amazon has been widely tipped for some time to take
advantage of its dominant position in ecommerce and make a move on the travel
Ill-fated attempts at hotel sales were introduced and
quickly withdrawn during 2015.
But many have suggested that the opportunity is too big to
ignore and either voice-related services or other products are simply a matter
of when rather than if.
A recent study by OAG found that 44% of consumers would be
comfortable booking their trips with Amazon, beating the next web giant in the
list (Facebook) to a distant second place with 14%.