Alexa and Siri Move into Hotel Rooms

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Alexa and Siri are soon to invade hotel rooms around the globe where both will compete to become the voice-controlled platform of choice for travelers. Don’t underestimate  the potential of Google Home here as well.

The adoption of digital assistants is not expected to happen as easy as it sounds, because this is not a mass-market technology and aside from implementing it hotel operators will have to educate guests how to use it.

Technology companies are using hotel rooms as showrooms for new services and devices that can also control so-called smart homes.

Currently, Marriott International Inc. is testing devices from Amazon and Apple to determine which is best to let guests turn on lights, close drapes, control room temperature and change television channels via voice command.

Last December, the first hotel company to install Alexa-powered Echo devices started with suites at its flagship must-see Wynn Las Vegas property.

Amazon and Apple are competing for dominance in the nascent market, which promises to let consumers access and manage household systems such as heating, cooling, lighting and entertainment by speaking a request at home or using a smartphone from afar. Businesses from homebuilders and carmakers to hotel operators are adopting smart home technology for the average consumer.

Hotel rooms are an ideal place for Amazon and Apple to showcase their devices and let guests see how they can be used to make their lives more convenient. It is the same as hotel rooms installing iPhone docking stations years ago so people could enjoy their own music in their rooms.

A key question is whether the interaction will be personalized, allowing guests familiar with the devices to log into their own accounts, or instead use a standard set of skills relevant to a hotel stay, like getting news reports, checking weather forecasts or calling for an Uber — commands more appropriate for those unfamiliar with the technology.

A digital assistant as Amazon Echo can be used to control lights, but the focus is on using Alexa as a personal concierge for ordering room service, or requesting towels or toothpaste from housekeeping. 

Eventually, the digital assistants will be able to perform more concierge-like services and connect with a guest’s personal device to do things such as set an automatic wake-up temperature or have the drapes open at a certain time.

Hotels are just one new avenue for Amazon to get its technology in front of more customers. Ford Motor Co. said in January that it plans to begin offering Alexa this summer in vehicles equipped with its Sync 3 infotainment system. An automotive version of the Echo assistant will let drivers order items on Amazon, listen to audio books, play music, check news, search for restaurants and get directions. Amazon also is working with BMW to integrate Alexa into its luxury cars. Alphabet Inc.’s Google has the Google Assistant, which powers its Home internet-connected speaker and Android phones, including its in-house Pixel handsets, and is collaborating with Hyundai Motor Co. on voice commands for its cars.

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