ADVICE: It’s time to get serious about virtual assistants

Free Wi-Fi, HD televisions, Nespresso coffee machines – you’re not alone if you think your guests are becoming more demanding. A recently published survey from Oracle involving US and European hotels has shown that in the age of digital technology, hotel guests are increasing their demand for individualised and personal experiences.

With modern marvels such as online streaming, 4G internet and same-day deliveries, it’s perhaps no surprise that the digital age is increasing society’s list of requisites. The hotel industry is no exception, two-thirds of the respondents in Oracle’s study believed it to be “very” or “extremely” important that hotels invest in new and innovative technology to provide them with an enjoyable stay.

So, what can hotel owners do to keep up with the modern needs of today’s traveller? Why not start with the world’s favourite new gadget and bestselling tech product – it’s time to say hello to the smart speaker.

Smart speakers are hugely popular wireless gadgets that have already made waves this year as a must-have item for modern households. The devices, which use voice control and Wi-Fi to provide real-time answers to users’ questions, can provide a variety of services ranging from music streaming to live updates on topics such as news, traffic and weather. At the moment, Amazon’s Echo remains the industry leader with 82% share of the market, however new alternatives such as Google’s Home and Apple’s upcoming Homepod look to shake this up with their own exciting offerings.

Now widely accepted in households around the world, smart speakers have started making their debut in the hotel industry as early adopters have begun testing the uses that virtual assistants can provide. In America, Wynn Las Vegas has equipped their 4,748 hotel rooms with Amazon’s personal assistant, and in the UK, Village Hotels have followed suit installing devices in each room across all of their 28 hotels. By planting a virtual assistant in each room, hotel owners are hoping to provide more autonomy for their guests and add an interesting touch they will remember from their visit.

“Hello, Google”: Here are some ways a smart speaker could help personalise your guest’s experiences

  1. Provide information – Smart speakers are a great way to find useful information exactly when you need it. If guests are curious about tomorrow’s weather, local events, opening times or their football team’s latest score, installing a smart speaker can provide them with the answers they need from the comfort of their own bed.
  2. Give Directions – So they know the opening times for the local museum, but how do they get there? Both Amazon Echo and Google Home can provide walking times, bus routes and driving directions at a moment’s notice, allowing guests to get the most out of their new location. Free apps such as Kayak can provide guests with even more travel information regarding flight times, car hires and follow-up hotel bookings.
  3. Provide Music – Listening to music is a great way to help guests feel at home, and with the use of a smart speaker it could not be much easier. Simply install a free streaming app such as TuneIn or iHeartRadio to provide your guests with unlimited songs across thousands of different radio stations, all of which can be personalised to their own music taste.  
  4. Control Devices – Music isn’t the only way smart speakers can help set the mood, devices can be linked up to a room’s lighting, television and thermostat using a variety of integrated products. Philips Hue Lights, Nest’s Smart Thermostat and WeMo’s Smart Plug can all connect with your speaker to provide guests with full control and the ultimate smart room experience.

As the world continues to become more and more integrated with technology, installing Amazon Echo or Google Home would be a great way to futurise your business and offer an innovative new service that visitors will remember. Virtual assistants are here to stay, and while it’s not quite ready to replace your trusted concierge, a smart speaker is a smart move for any business looking to set themselves aside and give customers something worth talking about next time they check in.

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