SEATTLE: Amazon, the e-commerce giant, has announced a partnership with hotel group Marriott International that will see the former’s Echo smart speaker installed this summer in certain properties across the latter’s portfolio.

Amazon has developed Alexa for Hospitality to help hotels – initially Marriott, but other hospitality providers will also be invited to install it – increase guest access to amenities.

So, for example, guests can inquire about hotel facilities or order room service via the voice-controlled Echo device, in a development that may soon render the telephone obsolete.

Additionally, the device can be linked to smart building features so that guests can control room temperature and lighting, or even the raising and lowering of blinds, with a simple voice command.

Perhaps what is most compelling, TechCrunch noted, is that guests can personalize their in-room Echo by temporarily connecting their own Amazon account for the length of their stay – playing their own music preferences from streaming services or listening to their own audiobooks.

That’s the public face of what’s on offer, but Alexa for Hospitality is a whole system that embraces more than just the Echo devices in the room: it’s a suite of tools for configuring the Echo devices, available via a dashboard where hotels can update their information, enable skills, adjust settings and track usage, TechCrunch explained.

Hoteliers can also measure guest engagement through analytics and reporting, allowing the hotel to adapt its own systems accordingly.

Marriott International is introducing the new experience at selected properties across its portfolio, including at Marriott Hotels, Westin Hotels & Resorts, St. Regis Hotels & Resorts, Aloft Hotels, and Autograph Collection Hotels.

In October last year, Alibaba introduced a similar “in-room butler”, Tmall Genie, in 100,000 hotel rooms across China and said it planned to encourage its adoption by airports and supermarkets.

At the time, Chen Lijuan, general manager of Alibaba AI Labs, said: “We are confident that we can outpace Amazon Echo in growth.”

Sourced from Reuters, TechCrunch; additional content by WARC staff