Will Amazon for Hospitality Take Off?

January 16, 2019


While attending a marketing conference not long ago, a couple of our people noticed a curious addition to their hotel rooms: Alexa. Adjacent to the virtual assistant on the dresser was a friendly card from the hotel mentioning all the things that Alexa can do to make their stay more comfortable.

It’s all part of Amazon’s Alexa For Hospitality initiative that has virtual assistants popping up in hotel rooms from coast to coast. Amazon has portrayed Alexa for Hospitality as a way for hotel brands to “deliver immersive experiences, delight guests, and improve productivity.” The tech giant goes on to say, “Alexa allows you to customize your hotel experience so guests can access your services and amenities from the comfort of their own room.”

The upside to marketers is clear. Integrating virtual assistants into the guest experience helps portray the brand as fresh and contemporary. This is especially true when it comes to attracting younger generations of travelers who expect a digitally seamless travel experience.

From a marketing perspective, adding a virtual assistant to the experience sounds like a no brainer. The question is, do travelers really want to share a room with the always-on Alexa?

Convenient? Definitely.

Marriott has already started integrating Alexa across a portfolio of select hotels. They give guests easy access to hotel information, concierge and other guest services, music, and even the ability to adjust room controls like lights and temperature.

At the Omni Hotel where our team was staying, you could use Alexa to order basic toiletries like a toothbrush, which would then be delivered to your room by a robot butler.

Meanwhile, back at the conference…

So for all the convenience and brand equity, it was interesting when, downstairs at the conference, an informal survey revealed how a number people had reacted to having Alexa in their rooms. They immediately unplugged it. For them, having Alexa listening in was just too creepy.

It’s a issue echoed in a recent Verge article that broke down how some hotel guests may feel about Alexa in the room. Among the concerns: is Alexa always listening? What’s happening to guest recordings? Are they automatically deleted after the stay? And what’s being done with the data after I check out?

For its part, Amazon promises daily deletions of data, and assures that hotels shall have no access to either the voice recordings or Alexa’s responses. And the Amazon promise of “making a great customer experience simple” is an attractive one for any marketer.

Still, it wasn’t so long ago when Amazon took heat for recording and emailing out private conversations of a couple in their own home. Are travelers ready to trust Alexa in a strange hotel room?

Too soon to tell

The real make or break moment for this trend will likely come when Amazon for Hospitality allows users to link the device in their hotel rooms to their personal accounts, giving them access to their own music lists, audiobooks, and more. Until then, the jury will probably stay out.

And many of those Alexa units will probably stay unplugged.

Topics:amazon for hospitality