In March of this year the Westin Hotel in Downtown Buffalo introduced Chip, a robotic butler, And now Chip will have a friend in "Alexa" the voice of an Amazon Echo. The hotel is putting one in each of their 116 rooms.
"It's all about that interaction with people," Westin GM Tom Long said, "Alexa (the name of the voice in the Echo) allows us to take away the volume."
The Amazon Echo is a voice-activated system that works in conjunction with the hotel to provide services to customers. The Westin is the first New York hotel to include this service, and just the 12th in the entire country.
The Echo can allow customers to order towels, toothbrushes, shampoo and other basic things the main desk offers. It can also act as a concierge and give recommendations to tourists looking for something to do.
When ordering off of Echo, it sends a message down to the front desk that tells an employee exactly what is being requested. They then fill Chip, the robotic butler, with the items and send him up the elevator to your room. Chip calls your room phone to let you know he has arrived and you can receive your items. When we tried it, it took less than five minutes.
The Echo listens on a loop that continually refreshes to make sure it is ready when people say "Alexa, Ask the Westin." This could bring up some privacy concerns which Long says can be solved easily.
"We have a mute button where we can turn it off, or you can just unplug it."
The Westin is hoping the Echo can eventually include serving food and drinks, as well as more complex requests like reservations at the hotels restaurants.