Intelity leverages Alexa for voice-activated guestroom

ORLANDO, FL—Seeking to change the way guests interact with properties, Intelity has unveiled IceVoice, the guest services platform provider’s latest tool designed to enhance the guestroom experience. The cloud-based digital assistant leverages Alexa, Amazon’s voice-activated technology, to provide guests with access to room controls, hotel services, local attractions and flight information through selective voice commands.

“IceVoice is not just informational, but interactive with the guest—making the guest experience more personalized than ever,” said David Adelson, president and CEO of Intelity, which launched in 2007 after its founder left his role as a hospitality executive.

Despite technology changes, guestrooms have, for the most part, remained the same for the past 50 years or so. The basics are still there: a bed, running water, entertainment. While the first two listed items haven’t evolved much over the years, entertainment is moving in another direction—in-room experience.

“IceVoice can have a huge impact on the guest’s entertainment experience, allowing them to define what they want, rather than having a limited set of options that isn’t aligned with what they’ve grown accustomed to in their daily lives,” said Gregg Hopkins, Intelity’s chief sales and marketing officer.

Intelity initially unveiled the prototype of IceVoice at HITEC 2017 in Toronto and implemented the first product deployment in December 2017.

“Being that Intelity already offers a large array of guest services using the Intelity platform, adding features and functionality—such as room controls, in-room dining and housekeeping requests—to voice was seamless,” Adelson said. “Through the Intelity platform, many different types of guest-facing interactions can be added. IceVoice is just one of those interactions.”

IceVoice uses Intelity’s Edison, a room controls solution, to control lighting, thermostat, drapes and other elements of a room. For housekeeping, valet and concierge services, it connects with Ice Request Manager, which enables a hotel operations team to manage, track and dispatch requests in real time. On the back end, with Ice Control Panel, hoteliers can view metrics on how guest have been interacting with Alexa.

“Being able to access insight about guest demand and resource usage is invaluable to a hotelier looking to increase profits,” Adelson said. “In fact, all of the business intelligence available through Intelity Ice platform is easily accessible and potentially beneficial to increasing revenue and adjusting strategy to better anticipated demand, which consequently increases satisfaction.”

Features of IceVoice include hotel information, guest services, valet request, frequently asked questions, alarm clock, music, weather, local attractions and flight information.

“We are working to integrate IceVoice with our IceVoice (Apple tablet) solution in the future,” he said. This would allow complex questions, such as room service, to have IceVoice directly refer the guest to the in-room tablet for such requests. For example, if the guest was to inquire, ‘Alexa, what is available for in-room dining?’ The response could be, “I’ve displayed the in-room dining menu on your in-room tablet.’ In which case, the IceBedside tablet would change from the home screen to the in-room dining menu. We are working to release this feature later this year.”

IceVoice is also available for the conference space. The solution includes requests for thermostat control, to replenish beverages and add supplies.

“Guests have made it it clear that they want to be in the driver’s seat when it comes to the details of their stay and don’t just want the usual benefits during their stay,” Hopkins said. “They have begun to actively voice a desire for investment in hotel technology that supports a high-tech, high-touch hotel experience. Voice-activated devices offer a huge opportunity for hotels to give guests what they want most: options. It also allows hoteliers to go beyond the traditional in-room layout and provide a competitive advantage.”

Intelity’s voice offering is only available on Alexa; however, Intelity has plans to expand its technology to Apple’s Siri and Google Home. “From a security perspective, the industry and AI providers (Amazon, Google, etc.) need to build the guest’s confidence that the device isn’t listening to all conversations,” said Chris Grey, CTO at Intelity. There’s an educational component to this hands-free technology.

Many guests are unaware of how these devices work; the devices sit dormant until a “wake word” triggers them. From a security perspective, the industry needs to build the guest’s confidence that the device isn’t listening to all conversations, he said. “IceVoice does not listen or record all conversations, but instead monitors voice inflections to activate the solution and respond only to those requests,” he said. After the hands-free device is activated, IceVoice pulls elements of a guest’s spoken text and translates them into guest service or informational commands.

“The biggest challenge developing our IceVoice solution is teaching computers to literally translate between fluid, open-ended speech (imagine the number of different ways you could ask for more washcloths) into structured requests the hotel systems can take action on,” he said. “That’s the magic of IceVoice.”

On that note, multiple language support is lacking with these solutions. “The ability to ‘understand’ multiple languages (currently only English and Germany are supported) somewhat limits the global adoption of the solution,” Hopkins said. Amazon, Apple and Google are working to increase the number of languages supported on their devices.

“In all new markets, there is competition,” Adelson said. “However, what separates Intelity from the rest is the maturity of its platform. With almost 70 discrete, certified integrations and almost 200,000 guestrooms served globally, Intelity is the leader.”

Intelity’s Ice Hub enables hoteliers to manage guest and staff accounts, examine ROI and more. The hub of the Intelity platform also includes solutions such as Ice Control Panel, Ice Request Manager, Ice In-Room Dining and Ice Mobile Dining. “Over the past 10 years, Intelity has built a robust platform that goes beyond the guest requests,” he said. “The core differentiation for Intelity is how guest requests and tasks are managed. Intelity will continue to develop and enhance its mobile and in-room solutions that enhance the guest journey, tailored to every guest persona,” he said. HB