Don’t feel like talking to a human to order room service? Simply ask Alexa, your favorite smart home automation center. The Charlotte Marriott City Centre in North Carolina has integrated Amazon Echo devices into its hotel rooms, the first Marriott hotel to do so. Soon, L.A’s Marriott Irvine Spectrum will follow suit. In June, Amazon announced that it had partnered with Marriott to test its Alexa for Hospitality tool, specifically suited for hotels. Through Alexa, guests can order room service, change the lighting and TV, set alarms, get weather updates, and more.
Marriott is not the first hotel to try Alexa for Hospitality. In 2016, Steve Wynne, CEO of Las Vegas’ Wynn Resorts, installed Amazon Echo in about 5,000 suites. He was thrilled with the results, saying,
“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.”
Not everyone matches Wynne’s enthusiasm. Many hotel workers are concerned that Alexa will take their jobs. While machines have effectively destroyed most of the U.S’s manufacturing industry, they fear that the service industry might be next. Earlier this month, over 7,7000 Marriott workers went on strike for a variety of reasons, including the fear of being replaced by automated machines. Their concerns are not unfounded. Two Marriott hotels in China have already tested out facial recognition technology, which allows guests to check into the hotel without having to speak to a human.
As many have privacy concerns regarding Alexa, it’s important to note that Marriott guests can disable Alexa and have the Echo speaker removed from their rooms if they prefer. Amazon claims that hotels cannot access voice recordings, and that Alexa does not require any personal information from the visitor.
That being said, Alexa has had some recent blunders regarding security. Last May, Alexa secretly recorded a Portland family’s conversation and sent it to a random person in their contacts. Amazon explained that this was an unlikely accident and that they have taken steps to improve Alexa’s communication. Together, Alexa and Marriott are bringing an entirely new meaning to room service.