When it comes to adding new technology, hotel chains seem quite eager to bring in new stuff to try and make things more comfortable for their guests. Whether it's basic things like Wi-Fi, more extravagant plans to ditch room keys, or even much fancier things like gaming suites or smartphones in your room. In the future you might even be able to talk to an Amazon Echo instead of a real person.
Amazon has just announced Alexa for Hospitality, a specialised version of its virtual assistant that will start being distributed to select hotels and other similar places. The idea is that each hotel will be able to customise Alexa based on the services it offers, letting guests do things like order room service, summon a housekeeper/cleaner, ask for location-specific information, or control the smart tech in their room. Things like lights, climate control, and so on.
If you're worried about privacy (as you should be), Amazon has some information to try and reassure you. It says all Alexa commands will be deleted daily, hotels won't be able to access what people have asked Alexa (or what she said in response), but hotels will be able to “measure engagement through analytics” or “customise the deployment”. Examples for that last part include default music stations, or connecting custom skills to Echos within the hotel. Marriot, which has already confirmed it will be rolling out Echos to a number of its chains, will, as an example, connect guests with TED talks.
Amazon also confirmed that it is working on a way for guests to link the in-room Echo with their own Amazon accounts, allowing them to access their own music libraries and other similar things. Each Echo is set to automatically disconnect from the account when the guest in question checks out, though I can't imagine it will take very long for such a system to cock up.
So if you have a habit of staying in posh hotels, whether it be on your own or your company's dime, you might start seeing Amazon's smart speaker popping up. I imagine now that this news is out Google will have its own version rushed into development as well, followed by everyone else. That's how these things seem to go anyway. [The Verge]