Are Virtual Assistants Ready for Hospitality?

Are you familiar with IVR – Interactive Voice Recognition? Until recently, calling your bank or internet service provider was the best way to meet one. By speaking to them directly, these automated systems use voice recognition to filter your call or provide you with information. Today, thanks in large part to the smartphone, IVRs have evolved into so-called “virtual assistants”, with their popularity and effectiveness on the rise.

Industry Adoption is Around the Corner

Siri, Google Assistant, Alexa and Cortana are just some of the recognisable names in the world of virtual assistants. Combined with machine learning and built on development platforms that make the technology available to anyone, these solutions are now ready to make the leap outside of the home. In other words, the technology is already there, and now it is time for wider industry adoption.

In the hospitality environment, there are many potential benefits of using voice interaction. For example, hotel guests could be checked in without staff spending time on their PMS – thereby maximising eye contact. Room service could order maintenance or change the room status in seconds through voice command. Guests could bypass complex TV interfaces or air conditioning remotes – or simply tell the lights to turn off at night, without getting out of bed.

There are, however, some inherent challenges to hospitality, like changing languages between guests, or the reluctance to have a microphone in a room.

As Mike J. Walker, Vice President of Research at Gartner predicts, “virtual assistants will reach mainstream adoption in the next two to five years.”  Gartner believes virtual assistants are in a phase of inflated expectations, something which is usually followed by a slight disillusionment that comes before mass adoption.

Currently, Hoist Group is experimenting with voice control to add to our Fusion platform, with a specific focus on privacy. We believe that controlling our IPTV system, our conference tool or our PMS system with voice can be a huge benefit for our customers. We want to use this technology to make a guest’s stay more comfortable, while simplifying staff technical tasks and bringing great new functionalities.

Contact us for more information or to see a demo.

Benoit LE GALL, Head of Engineering and Product Innovation.