Alexa for Hospitality Announces New Management APIs, a Console, and Screen Customization Controls

Bobby Agarwal Aug 04, 2021
Alexa for Business

Alexa for Hospitality brings immersive Alexa experiences at scale, powered by artificial intelligence, to properties such as hotels, vacation rentals, senior living communities, and many others to delight customers and improve the property’s productivity. Alexa for Hospitality made the following announcements at Alexa Live 2021.

1) Deploy and Manage Alexa-Enabled Devices and Experiences at Scale 

We built Alexa for Hospitality to allow you to deploy and manage Alexa-enabled devices and experiences at scale with Frustration-Free Setup and Alexa Management APIs. Through Alexa Management APIs, you can assign devices to properties, configure them, enable Alexa skills, create a customized guest experience via custom skills, and more.

“Use of Alexa Management APIs allows us to deploy communities quickly and provide customized Alexa experiences unique to each community’s needs,” said Scott Moody, CEO and co-founder of K4Connect, a solution provider for Alexa for Hospitality. “Now, we can easily provision and manage thousands of devices at-scale and integrate Alexa with our community management systems to offer valuable end-to-end experiences to thousands of senior living community residents and staff across the nation.”

We consider Alexa Management APIs as the building blocks for developers to build ambient computing experiences. What do Alexa Management APIs enable you to do?

●        You can manage devices, including Echo family of devices and smart devices:

○        Set-up thousands of devices quickly without repetitive steps

○        Manage device association with property rooms

○        Manage device configurations

○        Discover smart devices

○        Manage smart device association with property rooms

○        Create and manage device groups for ease of usability

●        You can represent your property in software, and manage permissions via users and roles:

○        Set up property hierarchy to reflect physical property setup

○        Create and manage users

○        Assign predefined roles to users to manage access

●        You can manage Alexa experiences on those devices:

○        Manage devices’ configurations and settings

○        Enable and manage custom Alexa skills, including property skills

○        Set-up and manage calling experiences including address books and contacts

○        Send notifications and announcements

●        You can build, test, and manage these integrations in bulk:

○        Build your own consoles and applications to manage Alexa experiences in your property

○        Integrate Alexa into your products and services

○        Test and certify your property skill prior to publishing

○        Manage hundreds of actions in bulk at runtime

2) Build Your First Alexa-Scaled Hospitality Solution Without Coding

It’s a problem familiar to all companies: coding skills and developer resources are often constrained. So we decided to democratize Alexa integration for all by reducing friction and making it easier to build and optimize voice experiences. Our Alexa Management Console does all that — it allows you to configure scaled voice experiences without the need for coding.

Alexa Management Console makes it straightforward to manage Alexa-enabled devices and experiences with a few clicks. “We are a lean development team,” Jeff Thompson, founder of Net Tech Inc., an Alexa for Hospitality solution provider, says. “The Alexa for Hospitality console enables us to manage Alexa-enabled devices and to configure scaled experience without writing any additional code.”

It’s truly simple to use. You can login to the console using your Amazon Business account, and with a few clicks create a new property, add rooms to represent their physical setup, associate devices to the rooms, and get going.

The console provides an intuitive UI to manage all aspects of Alexa in your managed property.

With the Management Console, you can:

•       Create and manage properties and associated devices at scale;

•       Manage Alexa experiences at scale;

•       View usage analytics to know how guests are using Alexa, so you can cater better to their interests and requirements;

Note that we only share aggregated data with solution providers and properties that cannot be tied to any individual user or guest. Guest privacy is of utmost importance to us and we have many guardrails in place to safeguard it.

3) Customize Visual Experiences on Devices with Screens

We found that customers engage more with screen-based devices and are now offering businesses the ability to customize notifications and visual message cards on Alexa multi-modal devices. Hospitality businesses can deploy Alexa devices with screens at scale and customize their experiences.

Echo Devices with Screens will soon allow hospitality, senior living, and other properties to use Alexa Management APIs to publish content to these devices and manage the audio-visual experience for guests and residents. Display information about your property, enable room service ordering using touch-screen and voice, or display events at the property.

“Alexa has provided powerful tools to customize screen enabled devices,” said Sumeet Bhatia, founder and CEO of Aiva, a solution provider for Alexa for Hospitality. “These tools not only improve engagement but they increase accessibility for more users. We are excited to extend these capabilities to Aiva’s client base, helping organizations deploy and manage their fleets of Alexa devices and create delightful voice experiences.”

What are the benefits of offering multimodal experiences with Echo Devices with screens?

●        You will be increasing engagement, for example, by providing a virtual tour and directions for amenities at the property, simplifying complex tasks like booking spa appointments through relevant visuals and audio-visual interactions.

●        You will be increasing revenue by offering your customers information on their services, for example, proactively sharing details of new offers, discounts, and happy hours.

●        You will be saving costs by optimizing your operations, for example, replacing printed collateral like binders and pamphlets with easy-to-update custom content on the device screen.

Additionally, you will be increasing guest satisfaction by enriching your customers’ experience:

●        You will provide a more full-fledged experience with the updated settings and features offered as part of the new Alexa for Hospitality visual experience. 

●        You will be offering a more convenient experience to hearing-impaired guests who can read what Alexa is saying on the screen and interact with Alexa using the screen.

Alexa for Hospitality offers two visual experiences: pinned and rotating cards.

What are rotating cards?

Rotating cards are visual content on the screen of an Echo Show device. Today these devices show content like weather, news, sports highlights, and suggested skills. Rotating cards are great for content, which is not urgent. You can use the Rotating Card APIs to publish up to 16 cards to the ambient home screen rotation.

What are pinned cards?

Pinned cards will look like rotating cards but will stay on the screen until dismissed by the user or the expiration time has been reached. You can use the Pinned Card APIs to publish information that is important for the user to see. They can be set to expire anytime in the future, or, if not specified, they will expire after 24 hours.

Alexa for Hospitality also offers new accessibility APIs. With these APIs you can enable accessibility settings on behalf of your guests and residents to improve their experience. These settings include captions, screen magnifier, and color inversion. For hotels, it is recommended that you reset these settings each time a guest leaves.

With all of these new offerings, we can’t wait to help you increase revenue, reduce costs, and improve customer experiences, while building our ambient future together. To learn more and build with us, visit Alexa for Hospitality.

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