Marriott is set to test out Amazon Alexa in a number of its hotel properties, Toni Stoeckl, global brand leader for lifestyle brands at Marriott, revealed in a panel at Advertising Week. The move is a bid to provide increased personalization and improved in room service for guests.
As voice-activated connected device usage has jumped 130 percent over the past year, brands have begun to explore how the technology can be used to drive engagement and improve customer service — and the hospitality industry is in many ways leading the charge.
Why? As Stoeckl put it, “as a hotel brand, we’re in the experience business. This means [taking advantage of technology that can] connect our consumers to the local experience in the hotel or the neighborhood — as well as removing some of the friction of transaction in hotels.”
The idea is that, as consumers have become increasingly comfortable with the technology, it’s now easier for a guest to ask, “Alexa, what’s a good restaurant nearby?” than to flip through a lengthy guidebook — or call down to the concierge.
Plus, as we wrote earlier this year, Marriott has been particularly aggressive in experimenting with technologies that meet guests’ needs for personalization, including the use of beacons and tablets in rooms to better connect and build loyalty with travelers who stay with them.
“Having Alexa in the room lets you personalize the room experience,” Stoeckl said. “That could be with music, or with other means. It’s also about just having the ability to ask Alexa for more towels rather than having to call down to the front desk.”
But in doing so, the hotel chain is continuing to work with Amazon on ensuring privacy in the hotel environment, since the in-room devices will, of course, serve different guests each visit.
“Of course, your voice is scrambled and there’s no way to connect it back to [the guest] on the backend,” Stoeckl said. The idea is that if a guest in room 304 asks for towels or room service, hotel staff will be notified and it will be sent upstairs — but none of this information is stored to be identifiable. “Working with Amazon [on privacy] is always a top priority.”
Beyond that, it’s still early days for exploring all of the ways that voice-controlled assistants can improve customer service. But one classic technology maxim still holds true, Stoeckl said: “Don’t do anything for the sake of technology. Do it to give your consumers what they want where they’re already interacting and engaging.”