Originally released in 2014, the Amazon Echo (more readily referred to as ‘Alexa’) is now a common fixture in homes across the world.

Cast your mind back to your last few visits to friends and family and it’s almost guaranteed that at least one of them will have attempted to wow you with their digital home assistant.

“Alexa, how old is Elton John?”, “Alexa, play the latest song by Paloma Faith”, “Alexa, turn the living room lights on”; talking to technology has become as familiar as switching the kettle on.

It should therefore come as no surprise that Amazon quickly realised how useful Alexa’s skills could be in the world of hotels. Thus, Alexa for Hospitality was born, and it’s slowly appearing on bedside tables in rooms across the country.

What does Alexa for Hospitality do?

Amazon touts Alexa for Hospitably as ‘the hub of the room’, offerings guests the ability to control in-room devices, find local businesses and play music by doing northing more than talking to the diminutive device.

Depending on the technology you have in your property, Alexa can also integrate with existing services, thus essentially becoming a digital concierge.

Asking Alexa to call the front desk, send additional towels, order room service or provide assistance with self checkout is a compelling way to conduct your hotel stay and one which guests will likely begin to yearn for as digital assistants continue to be such an important part of everyday life.

How does it work?

Thankfully, and as you might expect if you’ve installed an Alexa in your home, Amazon’s personal assistant is pretty straightforward to setup in a hospitality business.

Echo devices in hand, you’re guided through the process of connecting each one to a centralised console (which can apparently manage “hundreds” of devices).

Once connected, hotel staff can use the central console to control individual device volume, reset devices and check their status.

‘Skills’ (the mini apps you can add to an Alexa to make it more functional) can also be administered centrally, enabling you to add ever more wondrous ways for guests to interact with their in-room digital assistant as they become available.

So, what skills does Alexa for Hospitality currently possess?

At the time of writing (and depending on the existing technology you have within your hotel), Alexa for Hospitality will respond to the following guest requests:

  • contacting front desk;
  • assistance with checking out;
  • room service orders; and
  • ordering of certain hotel provisions and guest services.

New skills are being added all the time, but it’s clear at the moment that Alexa’s value for hotels and their customers most commonly resides in the area of digital concierge.

More recently, Amazon has added the ability for guests to sync their Amazon Prime accounts with the in-room Alexa, providing access to their own music playlists, audiobooks and even the ability to watch their favourite TV shows.

Conclusion: is it worth it?

So, the biggie: is Alexa for Hospitality worth it for independent hotels?

Cue disappointingly on-the-fence answer…

Possibly!

The cost isn’t as bad as you might think (Echo devices can be bought in bulk and the latest costs checked out on the Amazon Business website), but with guests becoming more accustomed to such technology in chain hotels, it’d be wise to at least start investigating this exciting guest service sooner rather than later.