Rolling Out Smart Speakers at Your Property

Part 2 of 2

Last time, we offered statistics on voice-enabled personal assistants and their explosion into the home market. We outlined some popular and creative ways the hospitality industry can use smart speakers in guest rooms: in-room controls, hotel services and broader concierge services. Today we talk about guest reactions, how your smart speakers promote your brand, and what to consider when planning your project rollout.

Advantages for Guest

Polls show people have a positive impression of voice activated controls in general. It fits nicely into a short-term stay environment; guests don’t have to waste time figuring out how the in-room technology works. Voice commands are fast and easy.

Guests no longer need to pick up the phone and wait for someone to answer (unless they still want to). Smart speakers activate based on a spoken phrase (at home, it’s “OK Google, or “Alexa…”). Once spoken, your request is “heard” as soon as it’s spoken.

The in-room smart speaker can become something of a “butler”, noting a guest’s preferences for future stays.

Your guests can communicate with the in-room smart speaker in his preferred language.

There is a slice of the population that has reservations about this technology. Some may find it creepy; acknowledge their concerns and be prepared to respond appropriately.  If guests have privacy concerns, you must always offer the option of turning it off. This technology is almost human-like, and may take longer for some to adapt.

Branding

This the kind of technology can create brand-loyal customers. What opportunity to promote your brand!

  • Personalize the greetings in a way that represents your brand. Perhaps change it for events happening in your area, or by season.
  • Further customize your voice activated controller by naming her (or him) whatever you like.
  • Promote the services your facility offers. If your guest asks for places close by to have lunch, your in-house café can be at the top of the list.

Other Benefits

From a GM perspective, by offering recommendations for local activities, restaurants, etc., you can reduce concierge service expenses.

From a guest perspective, they can forego long lines at the front desk if those “conversations” can be had in-room.

What Will You Need?

Your Infrastructure might require some upgrading. The in-room hub will communicate with other systems and other areas of your hotel, and likely in the cloud (thus the Internet of Things reference). Networking your various systems, like your HVAC controls, will be necessary. In order for voice controls to provide the “experiential environment” you’re going for, you’ll also need robust PMS integration.

Planning the Details

Start out small, perhaps just a few rooms. Systems like Volara can gather data about how it is used, so you know what features to include when you roll it out on a larger sale. Gauge, for instance, whether calls to the front desk are reduced.

Where in the guest room should it be located? In a place central enough that it can hear commands from both the bed and the gathering area of the room. Perhaps in a central “digital command center”, along with an iPad, charging center, land line (while they last), coffee maker, etc.

Some hotels are experimenting with charging extra for rooms that have it ($75 per stay, as an example).

Hotel Staff Can Use It Too

Staff can use it too:

Housekeeper “panic buttons” are a topic of discussion these days. What if your smart speakers were set up to respond to cries for help?

A less critical use case for housekeeping staff is to report maintenance needs or to make note of something particular in a room. Or perhaps to make note that the room is now clean.

Summary

Whether your property is an early adopter or plans to take a wait-and-see approach, keep smart speakers on your radar. They’re already a “thing” in hospitality, and it’s going to be exciting to watch the creative ways they’re being implemented.

How do you envision smart speakers being used in hospitality? Will it be a game changer?

Contact a Telkonet representative about delighting your guests, streamlining your processes and saving energy. Call 888-703-9398 or email us at sales@telkonet.com!