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This isn't the first time Amazon has tried to bring voice-activated bookings to hotels. But in a collaboration with Viator, guests will be able to book over 300,000 travel experiences directly from their rooms.

Viator, a TripAdvisor brand, has partnered with Amazon.com to integrate its vast inventory of tours, activities, and experiences into Alexa-enabled devices in hotel rooms. This marks the experience sector’s first major push into voice-activated travel bookings.

Viator, which calls itself the world’s largest travel agency for experiences, and Amazon did not share details on the financial structure of the deal. Viator said that hotels would benefit from it. 

“Every tour booked by a guest using their in-room device will generate revenue share back to the hotel,” said Sarah Dines, chief commercial officer at Viator.

The deal plugs more than 300,000 tours, activities, and excursions from Viator, an online travel agency owned by TripAdvisor, into Amazon’s Alexa service. Guests can search and book travel experiences in their hotel rooms.

This isn’t an entirely novel. Many hotel operators already provide custom Alexa-powered offerings in hotel rooms through Amazon’s Alexa Smart Properties for Hospitality program, including the Circa Resort & Casino, Reverb Atlanta, the Fairmont Le Manoir Richelieu in Quebec, the NH Collection in Spain, Sapporo Stream in Japan, the Wynn in Las Vegas, and some U.S. Walt Disney World Resorts.

However, this partnership signals the first time that Viator’s experiences will be built into Amazon’s devices as a “skill,” which enables users to ask Alexa about Viator’s offerings.

The service will only apply to participating hotels. For now, that includes Circa Resort & Casino in Las Vegas. However, it is available to U.S. hotels and will go international over time. 

Viator and Amazon’s service will allow guests to see popular local tours, activities, and excursions on the screens of an Amazon Echo Show device, which is similar to a small tablet or phone-sized screen that would sit on a desk or table. Guests can then explore the activities using either voice or touch. They can also book the travel experiences they want directly through Viator using a QR code.

Amazon’s Foray Into the Hotel Industry

The move comes at a time when Amazon promises a significant update to Alexa’s capabilities thanks to generative AI.

Yet it isn’t the first time a travel company joined forces with Amazon. In 2016, Expedia and Amazon partnered up to allow customers to inquire about existing flight reservations with Expedia, the loyalty program, or book a car rental.

In 2018, Amazon launched Alexa Smart Properties for Hospitality to increase its reach in the industry. The program placed Echo devices in several hotels, including Best Western, Dream Hotels, and Wynn Resorts. 

Also in 2018, the hospitality technology company SevenRooms announced plans to build an Alexa skill that enabled restaurant operators to use voice commands to streamline table service. For example, the device could remind staff to bring condiments to a table or fill water glasses.

Since then, news on Alexa’s rollout into the hospitality industry has been relatively quiet.

In 2019, Amazon received a slew of bad press as media outlets reported that the devices were listening to people’s private conversations. Travel Weekly reported that some hotel guests had privacy concerns about having smart devices in their rooms. Others said that the devices were activating and waking them up in the middle of the night.

Amazon faced several lawsuits about Alexa’s recording practices and ultimately changed its policies.

What’s Next

Amazon declined to comment on any future plans for hospitality-based partnerships.

Viator’s leadership said it hopes the partnership will help operators expand their customer base.

“By integrating Viator’s thousands of high-quality tours, activities, and excursions into Amazon Echo Show devices in hotel rooms, we’re making it easier than ever for travelers to find and book exceptional experiences in destination,” said Dines. “This collaboration also opens new doors for Viator’s tour operators by broadening their exposure to new and expanded audiences.”

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Tags: amazon, booking technology, hospitality, online travel, online travel agencies, online travel newsletter, tours and activities, Travel Experiences, travel tech, viator, voice, voice search

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