June 20, 2018
Marriott is testing Amazon Alexa ‘Virtual Butlers’ in Hotels this Summer

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Amazon announced a new program yesterday called Alexa for Hospitality. The online retail giant wants to partner with hotel operators to put its popular Amazon Echo in hotel rooms.

Guests will be able to ask Echo for hotel information, contact hotel staff, play music, and more all with their voice. Hotels will be able to customize the Echo to perform specific tasks. For example, guests could ask for things like pool and gym hours, they could request housekeeping and room service, call the concierge, etc. Alexa can also adjust room lights, temperature, blinds, the TV, and more.

Marriott has been working on integrating smart technology into its rooms for a while now. We got our first look at the hotel chain’s prototype smart room last year. Marriott has now signed on as Alexa’s first hotel partner. Travelers can expect to see the device at select Marriott, Westin, St. Regis, Aloft, and Autograph Collection properties starting this summer. So far Marriott has confirmed the Echo will begin trials at the Charlotte Marriott City Center and Marriott Irvine Spectrum hotels.

This does present some major privacy concerns. Alexa has to always be listening in order to respond to voice commands. That means everything you say in the room is recorded. Marriott assures us that recordings are automatically deleted every day and the system won’t link recordings to specific guests. Alexa’s default setting will also be set to mute. Customers will have to manually turn it on if they want to use it.

While I love technology, I’m not at all comfortable with something like this recording everything said in my room. You can bet it won’t be long before a malicious entity gets a copy of these recordings. If this does happen to be in my hotel room, I plan on unplugging it and making sure it’s off. What do you think?

Images Courtesy of Amazon