An uptown hotel that reopened about a year-and-a-half ago as a high-tech testing ground for customer experience is one of two Marriott International properties where Amazon will first bring its smart speaker devices into rooms.
Amazon.com Inc. has teamed up with Marriott on the launch of its Alexa for Hospitality experience, which will allow travelers to use Amazon Echo units in their rooms to access hotel information, contact housekeeping, order room service and other hotel amenities as well as play music. Charlotte Marriott City Center at 100 W. Trade St. and Marriott Irvine Spectrum in Irvine, Calif., will be the first to launch Alexa for Hospitality, a feature Marriott hopes to roll out at more select properties across its brands starting later this summer.
The Seattle-based tech giant said it's inviting hoteliers beyond Marriott, including vacation rental companies, to add the Alexa for Hospitality feature.
“So many of our guests use voice technology in their home, and we want to extend that convenience to their travel experience," said Jennifer Hsieh, Marriott's vice president of customer experience innovation, in a statement. "Guests of Charlotte Marriott City Center and Marriott Irvine Spectrum will be among the first to experience a curated list of Alexa for Hospitality features. We will be evaluating guest feedback and adoption to inform how we expand the skills, features, and functionality offered through Alexa in our hotels.”
A spokeswoman for Bethesda, Md.-based Marriott said the Charlotte and Irvine properties were chosen because they "are hotels where we often feature our latest innovations." No specific date was given for the rollout in Charlotte — only that it would occur this summer.
The Marriott hotel in uptown underwent a $40 million makeover in an 18-month span, which included 446 rooms, its front lobby, fitness center and meeting space. Reopened in the fall of 2016, the hotel received new dining concepts including a restaurant, an upscale bar and a coffee shop. It also became an innovation lab, in which customers could test new product and service concepts firsthand while giving feedback in real time.
Marriott sold the uptown hotel last summer to the non-traded REIT of W.P. Carey (NYSE: WPC) for $170 million.
Amazon has been developing Alexa to expand the use of the voice-controlled device, reports CBJ sister publication the Puget Sound Business Journal. That includes the recent launch of Alexa for Business, bringing the virtual assistant into the office as well as builders now integrating Amazon Alexa into new homes.
Amazon said that Alexa for Hospitality has been designed to work with existing hotel technologies in an effort to reduce hoteliers' costs in upgrades. Hospitality providers can also set up the voice-activated devices to let guests control in-room features such as lights, thermostats, blinds and TVs.
Amazon said Alexa for Hospitality will soon be able to let customers temporarily connect their own accounts to the Alexa-enabled device in their room, giving them access to play their personal music or listen to audiobooks with Audible.