'Alexa, order room service'
Amazon Echo smart speakers are coming this summer to a hotel room near you
Alexa may not be able to turn down your bed, but ring down for a toothbrush, turn up the air conditioning and order a late night snack is definitely in her wheelhouse — and all possible through a new arrangement at certain hotels from major chains including Marriott and Westin properties.
Called Alexa for Hospitality, the new service will embed Amazon Echo speakers into hotel rooms, connecting them to smart devices from thermostats to lights. Hotels will be able to customize the service to their specific chain and locations. Certain Alexa Skills will be highlighted like asking about pool hours or airport wait times regarding a flight going home. Eventually, guests will also be able to connect their own Amazon account to the speaker in their room.
Smart features are slowly working their way into hotel rooms. Hilton unveiled plans to add smart home features to some of their hotel rooms in 2017 through an app which would control lights, TV channels and the room temperature.
Amazon appears to be taking their plans a step further, likely because they're pushing their service out to multiple hotel chains — and because of Alexa's voice AI, her abilities can expand to make calls to the concierge and housekeeping.
Consumers, along with some U.S. senators, however, are expressing some wariness about smart devices. Most recently U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and U.S. Sen.Chris Coons (D-Del.) sent Amazon's CEO Jeff Bezos a letter listing 29 questions about the Amazon smart speaker, including concerns that the device "may share private consumer information that potentially puts Amazon users' privacy at risk." Presumably the Amazon Echo or Alexa device would be able to be unplugged during a hotel guests stay if they chose to disable the feature.
Travelers staying at Marriott International hotels will get the first chance to trial the new service starting this week including the Charlotte Marriott City Center in North Carolina and the Marriott Irvine Spectrum in California. Additional Marriott hotels along with some Westin, St. Regis, Aloft and Autograph Collection hotels will add the service this summer.