Amazon has announced Alexa for Hospitality, allowing guests at some hotels, vacation rentals and other hospitality locations to use an Alexa-powered Amazon Echo in their rooms to contact hotel information and guest services, play in-room music and control other in-room features via voice request, according to an Amazon press release.
Eventually, hospitality providers will be able to allow their guests to temporarily connect their own Amazon accounts to in-room Alexa-powered devices during their hotel stays so that they can play their own personal music playlists and listen to their own Audible book selections, according to Amazon.
Alexa for Hospitality is now available by invitation to hospitality providers. Marriott International is the first major hotel operator offering Alexa to its guests with plans to introduce in-room Alexa capabilities this summer at select properties in Marriott Hotels, Westin Hotels & Resorts, St. Regis Hotels & Resorts, Aloft Hotels and Autograph Collection Hotels.
Amazon gradually has been trying to coax consumers to let Alexa into every aspect of their lives, so why not into hotel rooms as well? Many guests are seeking some perfect mix of the comforts of home and the types of services and amenities they can’t get there. So it makes sense that if Alexa is catering to their needs at home, they would want her nearby while staying elsewhere.
Alexa for Hospitality also provides a channel for Amazon to reach new users.
"In order to increase adoption and build more reliance on Alexa, Amazon has fully embraced the try-before-you-buy phenomenon," Luke Starbuck, vice president of marketing at customer care automation enabler Linc, told Retail Dive in an e-mail. "Today’s 'Alexa for Hospitality' announcement is a clear attempt by Amazon to put Alexa in front of customers who may not experience the device otherwise, in order to convince them of the benefits of voice and further accelerate adoption of Alexa devices."
Amazon courting the hospitality market is not an entirely new development. Last fall, as other retail brands like West Elm, were talking about opening their own hotels and making forays into the hospitality market, Amazon was reportedly exploring its own convergence of hospitality and retail. It’s not entirely clear that Alexa for Hospitality is the direct or complete culmination of those efforts.
Previous to those reports in late 2016, Amazon and Wynn Las Vegas announced a plan to place Alexa devices in all the rooms of that hotel. The Marriott chain was also reported last year to be testing Alexa as well as Apple’s Siri for use in hotel rooms. At the time, Marriott confirmed the devices had been installed in rooms at the chain's W Hotel in Austin.
As for Alexa for Hospitality’s in-room capabilities, Amazon seems to be giving hospitality providers a lot of freedom to customize the kinds of Alexa features they want to give their guests access to. Controlling in-room lighting and other functions seems like a no-brainer (Control4 has provided these functions to guests at the Aria Hotel in Las Vegas since 2009), as do simple information requests. Though it was clear from Amazon’s press release that Marriott and others may be cautious and consider feedback about in-room Alexa features as they press on.
If hotel guests eventually have the option to easily connect — and disconnect — their own Amazon accounts to in-room Alexa devices, shopping through those devices seems like a pretty likely future capability, as well. Amazon didn’t discuss that possibility in its launch statement, but as hotel guests start to give their in-room Alexas a work out, shopping is sure to be something they will want, and expect, to do.