Amazon Echo & Vacation Rentals
Imagine having the ability to accommodate requests from guests during all hours while you remain sound asleep, go out to run errands, or enjoy a meal with your family. Voice-activated smart speakers offer tremendous possibilities for vacation rentals that improve guest experience and automate property management. Here’s how smart speakers like Amazon Echo have the ability to transform the vacation rental industry.
How Do Amazon Echo and Alexa Work?
For those who aren’t familiar, Amazon Echo — what many call “Alexa” — refers to a brand of smart speakers made by Amazon. Echo devices connect to a voice-controlled assistant called Alexa. The user calls out “Alexa”, “Echo”, or “Computer” to activate the smart speaker and give voice commands to perform tasks, called an Alexa Skill.
Amazon has also recently announced Alexa for Hospitality, an integration that allows hospitality providers to offer guest services through voice commands. Using the Amazon Echo in their rooms, guests can play music, set alarms, receive weather reports, or get tips on things to do. They can turn the Echo into a white noise machine and ease themselves to sleep with calming sounds playing in the background. They can even order groceries, have a pizza delivered, or request an Uber pickup.
Matching the Service of Hotels
Vacation rentals position themselves against hotels by offering guests more space, kitchens, and privacy in interesting locations. Hotels have the upper hand in terms of service, but a virtual concierge available through smart speakers could give the vacation rental industry a competitive edge.
Who needs a front desk when Alexa can book trips and activities, give recommendations on things to do, and make reservations all through voice commands? Why pay for overpriced minibar items when Alexa can arrange a delivery from the local store? Voice assistants like Amazon Echo can replace the hotel front desk, meaning you’ll be able to offer 24/7 guest services through a virtual concierge automatically.
The smart speaker comes with a free concierge app that provides expert local knowledge through an interactive voice conversation. Guests can ask Alexa recommendations for places to eat, where to find the best local shops, how to get to the nearest hospital, tips for local attractions, directions to the airport… the list goes on. Plus it’s easy and fun to use.
Automated Guest Services
Incorporating smart home technology automates many of the services typically provided by property management. Rather than calling property management or searching through a guestbook, vacationers can call out voice commands to receive information such as the WiFi password or find out where the TV remote is. They can also ask the typical questions like “where is the hair dryer?” or ”how does the Nespresso machine work?”.
Handling these requests in an automated way saves time and offers an efficiency value for hosts and guests to get information when they need it.
You can even set up your own customized instructions, like a virtual guidebook, to provide a unique guest experience. The Vacation Rental Concierge by Dana Young is free to enable with your Amazon Echo. Property management can pre-record recommendations which guests can request automatically through voice assistance. You can give guests personalized suggestions they won’t find through a web search.
Remote Property Management
If you manage a property that uses smart home tech, you’ll have the ability to integrate Amazon Echo with home controls. Amazon has already partnered with smart home companies like Wemo, Samsung SmartThings, Hue, Insteon, TP-Link, Nest, and Ecobee.
Guests then have the ability to manage thermostats and lighting through voice commands. On the other hand, voice-activated devices can control home systems remotely as a way of saving on utility costs. Gone are the days of stressing over guests leaving the AC on!
You can also offer keyless entry for check-ins and check-outs — Rently has announced an integration with Amazon Echo and Echo Dot allowing managers or guests to control entry into the property or open the garage through voice-commands.
Improved Guest Experience
Using the voice assistant, guests can make requests by sending a message to management. Hosts can then accommodate the requests remotely without having to show up to the rental in-person or answer a phone call every time.
Ease of communication reduces the amount of interaction between guests and property management, giving guests more privacy. Guests can also contact staff using voice commands transcripted and sent to management as text messages or emails to make requests, report damage, or provide feedback.
Meanwhile, Amazon Echo can keep track of requests made my guests. Homeowners can view request history to learn more about the needs of their guests. Data collected over time shows trends and how to optimize service for guests.
Overcoming Language Barriers
Property management dealing with guests from all over the world can break through language barriers with Amazon Echo and other voice assistants, without actually learning to speak French, Chinese, or Dothraki. Amazon Echo’s Translated App automatically translates short sentences from English into 37 languages. Guests who speak a different language can use voice assistance to translate basic requests automatically.
Currently, Amazon Echo only works with three input languages for Alexa Skills: English, German, and Japanese. However, other smart speakers offer more languages. Google’s Home supports English, French, German, and Japanese. Meanwhile, Apple’s Siri voice assistant supports 20 languages.
What’s to Come?
Voicebot.ai predicts that 47.3 million Americans will have access to smart speakers by 2020.
As more consumers rely on smart tech in their own homes, they become accustomed to voice assistance and will expect the same from a vacation rental.
The vacation rental industry is at the beginning of this revolution, but experimentation costs are still cheap. Amazon Echo 2nd Generation costs have gone down to $100. The diminutive Amazon Echo Dot will set you back just under 50 bucks.
While some of these technologies aren’t fully developed yet, voice-enabled devices show plenty of promise for vacation rentals. Including Echo devices with your vacation rentals certainly adds value to your property. Amazon Echo automates property management while adding personalized, around the clock, virtual concierge services through state of the art smart home technology.
About the author: Originally from Pennsylvania, Allison Dienstman lives as a digital nomad working as a freelance writer. Her travels over the past decade have taken her through China, Israel, India, and Europe. Allison also enjoys yoga, paddleboarding, cooking, and having a laugh with friends.