July 11, 2022
With voice technology commonplace in the home, the results of in-room voice assistants for hotels speak for themselves. Hotels that embrace the widely adopted technology can connect with guests on a personalised level and realise the revenue and service potential.
Voice recognition is becoming a must-have technology in the hotel sector. Hoteliers are realising the multitude of benefits which include personalising the guest in-room experience, providing assistance anytime of day and night, modernising the brand and liberating staff for more important matters.
Voice assistants have become commonplace in people’s homes and hotels are belatedly catching up with these wider social trends. In the US, 35% of Americans over the age of 18, which is more than 100 million people, own at least one smart speaker. In the UK, the proportion is even higher, reaching half of over 16s last year.
The great advantage of voice assistants – including Google Assistant, Siri, Alexa and Cortana - is they’re hands-free and allow users to multi-task. Owners use them to listen to radio, stream music, set alarms and control smart home devices, including thermostats and lights. They search the web and find weather forecasts, and access cooking tips and sports scores.
Guests are used to enjoying these technologies at home or out and about with their phones, and hotels can be perceived as a bit basic without them. This is especially true of tech-savvy millennials who make up around half of guests. According to a survey by Hotel Technology News, 49% of guests say hotel selection is influenced by high-tech features.
Hoteliers are losing out to rivals that embrace new technologies before them. That’s why in an Oracle survey, 78% of operators said voice-activated controls for lights, air conditioning, and room devices will be mainstream by 2025.
One of the best examples of voice control within the hospitality industry is the Alexa for Hospitality service, offered by Amazon. Guests control various aspects of their room, such as lights, heating and aircon, TV and music. The device relies on artificial intelligence to recognise speech patterns and respond appropriately.
A year ago, the Mercure Hyde Park in London became one of the first European hotels to introduce Alexa for Hospitality and has experienced significant financial benefits. Edward Wilcock, Director of Revenue at Mercure Hyde Park, said room service generated revenue has risen by 20-25%.
For some hotels, concern over limited bandwidth to service the entire property is easily resolved, bandwidth-shaping techniques are used to overcome issues with speed to ensure that guests benefit from a seamless experience.
Five important benefits of in-room voice recognition technology:
Smart hubs act as virtual concierges. When connected to company booking processes, guests book restaurants with a few simple voice commands, or obtain an electronic key card to access the gym. They request wake-up calls, extra towels, or access information about weather forecasts and local amenities.
Voice technology is a truly 24/7 service, which means customer support is instantaneous and exceptional. Guests never have to chase busy staff at awkward times. The information is up-to-date and more accurate than might be obtained through human interaction.
Guests use voice assistants to set controls for temperature and lighting to their taste, as well as operating entertainment devices without pushing buttons. The assistant allows interactions in any language which makes visitors from overseas feel at home.
On future stays, there will be even more of a personal touch. The technology obtains a detailed profile of guest preferences ranging from room temperature, to diets and wake-up call times. Devices can then be pre-programmed. By improving personalisation, hotels will see more return bookings.
According to Hospitality Net, 30% of all service requests at voice-enabled hotels are made through voice assistants. The in-room voice assistants at the Mercure Hyde Park Hotel handle over 200 conversations a day. With so many tasks taken care of, happier staff have more time to engage with guests when the human touch makes a difference.
In the case of the Amazon for Hospitality, voice solution offers efficiency gains for housekeeping and maintenance staff, by allowing complete request tracking and pushing updates from the Amazon Echo to the property management system.
Voice assistants are a vehicle for hotel promotions such as a 2 for 1 offer on cocktails in the lounge, encouraging on-site spending. According to Opus Research, 62% of hoteliers plan to invest in voice adverts and shopping, and 72% feel monetisation is an important goal.
The cutting-edge use of technology enhances the hotel image. Whereas a lot of new technology operates behind the scenes to automate processes, voice assistants are a visible sign of a modern, technology-savvy brand. Guests love home comforts and a well-implemented voice assistant will receive positive reviews that can be quoted in promotional material.
Although it is becoming more widespread in hospitality, voice control poses some issues in relation to privacy. But hotels can take steps to reassure guests their data is taken care of. In the case of Alexa for Hospitality, voice commands can be automatically deleted everyday, and hoteliers can perform a remote clearance between guests as an extra precaution.
Following a year of in-room voice assistants at the72-room luxury Mercure Hyde Park Hotel from Hotel Cloud, the property has experienced significant gains in guest servicing and revenue by having the ability to provide the right recommendations to individual guests.
As well as providing the same benefits as Alexa devices in homes, there have been three major benefits specific to the hotel, according to Edward Wilcock, Director of Revenue.
A further long-term benefit, For the Mercure Hyde Park Hotel is that Alexa for Hospitality is connected to Hotel Cloud’s machine learning AI technology which provides detailed analysis of every aspect of performance, including customer preferences and speed of service.
Start your free 30 day trial, and see what Hotel Cloud can do for you!Start Free Trial