Marriott testing Siri and Alexa to decide which will control devices in its hotel rooms

The battle between intelligent voice assistants is moving into hotel rooms, as Marriott International is testing both Siri and Alexa to decide which will control devices in at least some of its hotel rooms.

Bloomberg reports that the chain is putting the two platforms in a head-to-head test in its one of its Aloft-branded properties …

Marriott International, the world’s biggest lodging company, is testing devices from the two tech giants at its Aloft hotel in Boston’s Seaport district to determine which is best to let guests turn on lights, close drapes, control room temperature and change television channels via voice command […]

Marriott expects to decide whether to adopt the technology for one or more of its chains as early as mid-year. “Probably by the end of the first half of this year, we’ll have a pretty good indication of where we’re headed,” Stoeckl said. “The race is still on.”

The company said it has already identified that Siri and Alexa were the only two intelligent voice services worth trialling. Neither Google Assistant nor Microsoft’s Cortana are in the running.

The decision could be an important one for either Apple or Amazon. Marriott is the world’s largest hotel chain, and the experience of being able to control lighting, heating, cooling and entertainment systems by voice could well influence the product choice of guests when it comes to adopting smart home technology in their own homes.

While the trial currently applies only to one Aloft hotel, the company says that the winning technology may well be rolled out more broadly across the Marriott group.

Marriott’s Toni Stoeckl said his company is “looking for the ideal solution to make this a global platform.” Aloft hotels act as a “tech incubator” for new concepts, and a successful test may determine whether digital assistants — and which ones — are installed at other Marriott chains, he said.

One of the main things the hotel company seeks to discover through the trial is how easy or difficult guests find it to adapt to the two systems.

A key question is whether the interaction will be personalized, allowing guests familiar with the devices to log into their own accounts, or instead use a standard set of skills relevant to a hotel stay, like getting news reports, checking weather forecasts or calling for an Uber — commands more appropriate for those unfamiliar with the technology.

“It will be interesting to see how much education they have to go through to get guests to use them,” said Creative Strategies analyst Carolina Milanesi. “This is not mass-market technology.”

Siri has already lost out to Alexa in one competing chain, however: Wynn Resorts has opted for Alexa-powered Echo devices.

Wynn Resorts has said it plans to equip all 4,748 rooms at the Las Vegas hotel by this summer. The company is considering installing Echo at other resorts, hotel spokesman Michael Weaver said.

Photo: Jay McGregor

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Avatar for Ben Lovejoy Ben Lovejoy

Ben Lovejoy is a British technology writer and EU Editor for 9to5Mac. He’s known for his op-eds and diary pieces, exploring his experience of Apple products over time, for a more rounded review. He also writes fiction, with two technothriller novels, a couple of SF shorts and a rom-com!

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