Like Marriott and other hotel companies, Best Western is figuring out if there's a home for Amazon's Alexa in the hotel guest room.
Best Western Hotels & Resorts CEO David Kong said his company is also embarking on a pilot of Amazon Dot devices in a few hotels, and he thinks it could potentially be beneficial not only for hotel guests but employees, too.
“We are working with a company to test the Amazon Dot because I think, in the future, that’s how the guest might want to interact with us,” Kong said. “A certain segment of the guests might want to do that.
Right now, the company is working with Runtriz to develop and deploy a pilot that will initially be tested in about a dozen properties.
“If you think about the capabilities of a Dot, not only can you leave a wake-up call, have it playing music, or tell you the time, but you can use that to communicate with hotels, right? You can order your room service from that. You can report something that’s not working, and the staff can use that too.”
The in-room Amazon Dot can also be beneficial for staff.
“We hear about housekeepers being concerned about their safety and therefore you need panic buttons for them and, well, the Dot is the perfect solution for that,” Kong said. “They can use that to report that the room has been cleaned, or they can report that maintenance needs to pay attention to this or that in the room.”
Kong said Best Western’s interest in using the Amazon Dot is driven by its multiple uses and enterprise-level affordability.
“You just think about the multiple uses that the Dot can afford you and it’s all very affordable,” Kong said. “If you bought it in bulk, it’s not expensive. You can customize it so people can’t take it and use it at home so you prevent that theft. I think it’s just the future where people want to use voice command.”
Best Western began the pilot development program two months ago and, at the same time, it’s also been piloting a new messaging platform for guests to use to communicate with hotel staff.
“It’s in a couple hundred hotels [close to 200] and, in early November, when we have our convention, we’re going to show what these hotels have found out and how that [messaging platform] simplified their operations or perhaps drove savings and created better guest loyalty, and use that as a proof of concept,” Kong said. “Once that’s adopted, we’re going to slowly test the Dot and roll it out against the next generation.”
Kong knows messaging is popular today but he thinks voice could overtake it.
“The Amazon Alexa, to me, is the future. Right now, people are into messaging but in the future it’s going to be artificial intelligence and voice activation.”
Instead of developing a mobile app to enable messaging, however, Kong said Best Western is taking an approach to messaging that isn’t necessarily facilitated via the Best Western app.
“What we’re experimenting with now is not bothering with an app,” Kong said. “We each have 30 apps on our phones, but how many apps do people actually use? We want to rethink how people use their phone. We’re testing a whole messaging platform and building better communication and better relationships with our guests. We have to rethink the whole customer journey.”
Free Daily Newsletter
Sign up for the most popular Skift daily download of news, happening, and headlines in the travel world
Photo credit: Best Western is piloting the use of the Amazon Dot in hotel guest rooms. Amazon