News | Technology
Amazon finally talks about travel, launches Alexa for Hospitality
By Kevin May | June 19, 2018
Amazon's first official foray into the travel industry for a few years is here: Alexa for Hospitality - bringing the voice-activated device into hotel rooms.
The ecommerce giant's Echo will now allow guests to ask questions about hotel information, contact guest services, play music in their room and tap into other hotel-related services.
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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 will later 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 industry.
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%.
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Episode 9 of PhocusWire's PundIT Show podcast took an in-depth look at the Amazon opportunity in travel.
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