Marriott International, one of the largest hotel and hospitality chains in the world with over 6,500 properties around the world, has partnered with Amazon to install Amazon Echo smart speakers in its hotel rooms, which will offer guest services to guests staying at the hotels through Amazon Alexa, the company’s AI-powered voice assistant. This will include basic hospitality and service functions, including ordering room service, asking for room cleaning or extra towels, adjusting air conditioning and lighting, and more.
The move, which is a part of Amazon’s ‘Alexa for Hospitality’ initiative, is the first step in getting the e-commerce giant’s products and services into the hospitality and hotel industry. The partnership will see Amazon Echo devices installed in the rooms of select Marriott properties this year, with a goal to eventually roll out to the entire network. The move will allow hotel guests to get access to certain services without needing to make a call to an actual person manning a hotel desk. It will simplify the process of staying at a hotel by a great deal, if implemented properly.
There are a couple of implications here, though. For one, privacy concerns can be raised, since Amazon Echo devices are known to have their microphones on in order to listen for the activation key-phrases, and could be sending this data to Amazon servers. Furthermore, there’s always the possibility of an AI-based system hearing things wrong, and the last thing you want at a luxury hotel is a large bill for things you didn’t order.
However, many users might benefit from such a service, particularly in markets such as the US where a large number of people use Amazon’s services anyway. This can include the ability to sync to user’s custom playlists and videos using Amazon Prime Music and Prime Video, getting news updates, and more. What’s more, users will get a live demo of Echo products when staying at these hotels, thereby possibly even assisting sales in a small way.
WATCH: Amazon Echo Spot First Look
Marriott International was reportedly also considering Apple’s Siri (and therefore its HomePod speaker) for this implementation, but decided to go with Amazon. The company’s AI-powered voice assistant Alexa competes with Apple’s Siri and Google Assistant in the space, which continues to gain traction. However, while Amazon Alexa is available on smartphones, its primary method of use is through the company’s smart speakers, while Google and Apple have the advantage of native implementation on Android and iOS smartphones, respectively.