Amazon’s controversial virtual assistant Alexa is being brought to Marriott hotel rooms as part of the company’s “Alexa for Hospitality” program, prompting concerns over guest privacy.
According to Tech Crunch, the virtual assistant can be “customized to include key guest information, like checkout time or pool hours; allows guests to request services like housekeeping or room service; and can be configured to control ‘smart’ hotel room functions, like adjusting the thermostat or raising the blinds.”
Alexa is reportedly coming to “Marriott Hotels, Westin Hotels & Resorts, St. Regis Hotels & Resorts, Aloft Hotels, and Autograph Collection Hotels starting this summer,” with Amazon working on bringing the system to other hotels soon after.
“In this case, we recognised that voice-first experiences have become an increasingly important channel for our guests, and we think Amazon is leading the market in this technology,” declared Marriott’s Vice President of Global Consumer Public Relations, Tracey Schroeder. “This was not a direct comparison with Siri. We work with a number of partners in order to test emerging technology so we can learn and leverage what we believe will enhance the guest experience.”
Some people were concerned by the news, however, with Financial Times journalist Kate Allen posting, “I will pay a premium for any hotel room that does not have one of these devices in it.”
Another task when entering a hotel room:
1. Check under bed.
2. Check privacy lock.
3. Unplug eavesdropping smart speaker.
— Neil H. Watson (@neil_h_watson) June 19, 2018
The increasing popularity of Amazon’s virtual assistant devices has also sparked privacy concerns, with Amazon recording and saving every conversation between consumers and their virtual assistants.