2 Questions You Should Ask Before Adding Amazon Echo to Your Hotel Room

“Amazon will increasingly subsidize Echo by bundling content (think music, video) with the device,” Forrester Principal Analyst Thomas Husson told Yahoo Finance. “They can afford this since this is not core to their business model: the end-goal is to facilitate interactions.” 


The last two words of Husson’s quote summarize what Amazon Echo can do for the hospitality industry: facilitate interactions. Indeed, that’s one of the reasons why the Wynn hotel recently announced that it’ll be putting Echo in all 4,748 of its hotel rooms by summer 2017. The question remains: is this beneficial or unnecessary?  


There are two ways you can look at it – realistically, I don’t see a traveler not choosing a hotel because it has an Echo in the room, despite valid privacy concerns. So then the real question becomes: is Echo enough of a perk to push a traveler to choose your hotel over another, amenities and rates being the same?


It depends on what your hotel wants to achieve with Echo.  


Too many new gadgets have been introduced into hotels without thinking about the larger picture.


For example, Starwood was the first hotel to offer keyless mobile entry, with Hilton and Marriott quickly following suit. Six months after launch, users complained of tech difficulties with the Starwood app, problems checking in and inconsistent functionality. Now, more than a year later, the kinks have been worked out – but wouldn’t it have been a better brand experience to have allocated more time for testing and fixing bugs rather than rush to be first?


As these hotels rushed to add keyless entry to their hotel offerings, the online chatter focused on the technology rather than the impact of that technology. It wasn’t just the fact that entering a hotel room with your smartphone may be easier than entering with a room key. It was about the bigger picture: a business traveler arriving to a hotel after 24 hours of flying who could now just head up to her room, without delay; a family who didn’t have to spend ten minutes in a line after a long drive with the kids. That’s what keyless entry meant.


And that’s what you need to determine now, and before you implement any new technology into a hotel: what does it mean for your guests?


To figure that out, here are two questions to ask yourself before adding Amazon Echo to your hotel room:


  1. Are you focusing on the services Echo can do for your guest (ex. Play music) or the greater impact it can have on your guest interactions (ex. Make a transient hotel stay feel like home)?
  2. What will this technology improve for the guest and what will it worsen?


It will be interesting to see how Wynn uses Echo to take hotel-guest interactions to the next level. What’s more is if they’ll use it as an opportunity to focus less on the individual technology gadget itself and more so on the greater impact to its guests.