Automation controls and options are becoming more and more popular in homes, and we’ve been seeing them show up in hotels too. Starwood’s Aloft Cupertino and Aloft Silicon Valley have had robotic butlers for almost four years. The Aloft Boston Seaport and Aloft Santa Clara have iPads and Apple’s Homekit complete with Siri, and Wynn Las Vegas announced in December last year that it plans to add Amazon Echo and Alexa to all guest rooms. The race is on!
Marriott is reportedly still trying to decide between Siri (Apple) and Alexa (Amazon) though, and is currently testing both Amazon and Apple devices at the Aloft in Boston. The Four Seasons in Washington is also reportedly offering Alexa devices in the guest rooms, though just for weather information, destinations, and music.
Up for grabs at hotels are controls for lighting, TV, the temperature of the room, and drapes. While all of this might not seem like a big deal just yet, it has the potential to be as it leaves the door open for the next step, personalization.
If you have an Apple iPhone and come into a hotel room to find an Apple charger, it improves your experience. Similarly, if you have an Android device, you’ll be slightly miffed unless there’s a MicroUSB port too.
Same goes for automation for those who have already jumped in. If you already have experience with a particular brand because of what you have in your home, in a hotel (a few years from now) you could log in to your existing profile, access your data, and customize your stay based on your preferences. Familiarity adds comfort, and you could adjust the time that the drapes open, room service is ordered, and what the room temperature will be set for.
Thanks to my tech-savvy husband I already have a combination of several different smart devices in my home. There are sometimes clear benefits to choosing one type/brand over the other, but in many instances it comes down to user preference. Once you’ve already made a choice, it makes add-ons with the same system much easier.
For someone that hasn’t yet made up their mind which devices to get or use, I’d think it would be easy to stay in a hotel, get used to the way the lighting or music or drapes worked, and then come home and want to duplicate the experience. I’d be willing to bet that’s what Apple and Amazon are hoping, too.
Marriott will be choosing what it thinks that guests will want. Continuity, support, intelligent assistance, user experience and maintenance will all be important factors. Whatever Marriott decides, will determine which devices will fill all Aloft properties going forward. Plus, I’d think that whichever one wins out might also eventually get used in more Marriott brands at a later time (and perhaps other hotel brands, too).
In this way, the fight for implementation of Apple or Alexa products in Marriott hotels is larger than simply putting them in Aloft hotel rooms. It could influence homeowners, which could turn in turn influence other hotels, and so on.
Stay tuned, as Marriott might have a decision sometime as soon as this summer…