Will the Amazon Echo eventually become the new iHome docking station of the past? Will this technology be outdated in just a year or more? And more importantly: Is this what people really want from their hotel experience just yet?
Steve Wynn, chairman and CEO of Wynn Resorts, as well as the highest paid hotel CEO of 2015, is making a huge bet that guests will want to control their hotel rooms with the help of the Amazon Echo, an artificial intelligence-powered smart speaker.
Wynn and Amazon together announced that soon, all 4,748 hotel rooms at the Wynn Las Vegas will be equipped with the Amazon Echo, with installations beginning to take place this month in the resort’s suites. The hotel expects to have all rooms outfitted with the technology by summer 2017.
While other hotels, such as Marriott’s Aloft properties, have piloted voice-activated rooms previously, Wynn Las Vegas is the first to really double down on the technology — and commit to having the technology available in every room.
Just a few weeks ago, we wrote that if “the advent of artificial-intelligence driven smart speakers like google Home and Amazon Echo is any indication, the Internet of Things is that much closer to becoming a reality, even when we check into our hotel rooms.” We had no idea that reality would arrive so quickly.
With the Amazon Echo, guests can control the lighting, temperature, draperies, and TV in their rooms by asking Alexa, the artificial intelligence behind the speaker. The company also said, in a release: “As the project evolves, future features such as personal assistant functions will be introduced.” To date, Alexa can complete more than 6,000 different skills in the U.S., according to Amazon.
In a press statement, Steve Wynn said: “As we have moved through the years, technology has always played an important part in our resorts. The thing that Amazon has done with Alexa is quite perfect. If I have ever seen anything in my 49 years of developing resorts that has made our job of delivering a perfect experience to our guests easier and help us get to another level, it is Alexa. The ability to talk to your room is effortlessly convenient. In partnership with Amazon, becoming the first resort in the world in which guests can verbally control every aspect of lighting, temperature and the audio-visual components of a hotel room is yet another example of our leadership in the world of technology for the benefit of all of our guests.”
As much faith as Wynn has in this technology, not everyone is convinced this type of technology investment is worth the return on investment for hotels just yet, however.
Marriott International director of guest technology, Scott Hansen, told Skift, “The future of the guest room will be voice activation. Amazon Echo and Apple’s Siri are consumer versions of this technology. I have all that in my own home. That is the future. Whether we use that existing tech or some other voice-activated mechanism has yet to be determined [for hotels]. The real brick in the road is trying to get the Internet of Things upgraded to the net-connected appropriate part of the network. It’s very expensive to retrofit everything in a hotel.”
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Photo credit: By next summer, all 4,748 rooms at the Wynn Las Vegas will have an Amazon Echo to control the room's lighting, draperies, temperature, and TV. Wynn Resorts