- Marriott International is using its Aloft hotel in Boston to test Alexa and Siri to find the best digital personal assistant for its hotel rooms, per Bloomberg.
- The hotel giant is expected to decide if it will roll out one of the tech assistants across one or more of its chains by mid-year. Hotel guests will be able to use the AI-driven assistants to control the lights, open the drapes, adjust the room temperature and command the TV by voice.
- The winner, if there is one, stands to gain sales to outfit the hotel rooms as well as brand exposure with travelers who might be new to the technology.
The hospitality market is a natural fit for personal digital assistants as they are a way to reinforce hotels' commitments to providing personalized service throughout a guest's stay. Guests are also increasingly exposed to connected technology inside hotels, with Marriott a leader in offering mobile check-in, mobile keys, in-venue mobile notifications and text-based housekeeping requests.
For digital assistant platforms like Alexa and Siri, the hotel market seems like a great way to expose potential customers to their capabilities as they ramp up in a space that is expected to play a crucial role in how consumers connect online going foward as well as how brands engage with users.
While Siri has been available for longer, it is only available on iOS devices. Amazon’s Alexa is becoming a leader in the home assistant space with its Echo and Dot devices and Alexa’s tech is being integrated into everything from third-party home devices to cars. Google Home is another strong player in the space tapping Google Assistant AI tech, and Microsoft has its Cortana voice-controlled assistant.
While marketers may be ready to be able to tap a new and growing market via these devices, consumers might not agree. Google Home users didn’t react well to an unexpected ad on the device last week, an ad that Google insisted wasn’t an ad but still stopped serving once a social media backlash began. This example provides a cautionary tale for other marketers looking to engage users. For now, the best path may be to stick with value-add services.