The world’s largest hotel chain, Marriott International, is contemplating the installation of smart assistants in some of its hotel rooms around the world. According to Bloomberg, Marriott is currently considering whether Amazon’s Alexa or Apple’s Siri voice assistant is a better fit for its properties. It’s not thought Google’s Assistant is in the running.
Hotels have gradually been exploring smart home technology over the last few years, with many rooms now integrating touchpanels for controlling several functions important to guests. That includes everything from the TV to the lights.
Increasingly guests in high-end hotels, which Marriott specialises in, expect a certain level of technology in their rooms. Marriott has already partnered with Netflix to bring movie streaming to its rooms, and all of its TVs are internet-connected meaning guests can access their own content, rather than paying the hotel exorbitant fees to rent movies.
Marriott isn’t the only hotel company to consider voice assistants in its hotel rooms. In December, Wynn Resorts became the first hotel chain to install the Amazon Echo in its hotel rooms. The Four Seasons in Washington has also installed Alexa technology in some of its rooms, although without smart home functionality – meaning it’s solely an assistant for playing music and telling guests the weather.
Both Alexa and Siri are currently being trialled by Marriott at the Aloft hotel in Boston’s Seaport district, with both assistants capable of turning on the lights, closing the curtains, controlling room temperature and changing the television channel via voice command.
Marriott boasts over 1.2 million rooms globally, meaning even a modest roll-out of either Amazon Alexa or Apple Siri could result in a large uptick in device sales for the respective companies. The hotel chain will only be able to roll-out Alexa in the UK, USA and Germany, however. Marriott operates in over 110 countries and territories worldwide, meaning Siri could be the better option for a global roll-out; with Apple’s voice assistant supported in 36 countries.
The decision on whether to install Amazon’s Alexa or Apple’s Siri could be made as soon as mid-2017, according to Bloomberg. The sales will only be one benefit Amazon or Apple will get from the decision, however, with the exposure likely worth more to the two companies that the monetary value of installing the devices. Over 22.85 million people spent a night in a US-based Marriott hotel in spring 2016 – meaning the potential consumer exposure for the two companies is massive.
Marriott already has an existing relationship with Amazon, with the company having installed 10 Echo speakers in the most popular rooms at the JW Marriott San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa. The company has already committed to a further 100 devices at that property.
While Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri are likely to be popular amongst hotel chains looking for a unique techy-niche, those systems still need a backbone – and that’s where more traditional home automation firms come into play. Crestron is one company reaping the rewards from hotel chains exploring automation technology and the Alexa voice assistant.
Speaking to Bloomberg, John Clancy, vice president of residential systems at Crestron, notes: “You’re starting to see more of this home-automation technology being deployed in these spaces. Initially, there was a big fear about whether it works and what the customer expects.”
Hotel installations currently account for around 5% to 10% of Crestron’s revenues, although it’s a market the company expects to grow in the next few years.
As evidence of that increasing market, the new Waldorf Astoria in Beverley Hills, California, is set to open in June complete with Crestron automation. Lighting, temperature, AV and room service is all set to be controlled on iPads running Crestron technology. Thanks to the company’s support of Alexa, the Waldorf Astoria can install an Amazon Echo in the future and give guests the ability to control their rooms using voice commands.