HMI Q&A: Contactless, Voice-Enabled AI Room Assistants

With Covid-19 forcing hotels to rethink and alter their protocols to negate the worst effects of the virus, many are turning to technology. David Millili, CEO of Angie Hospitality, explains how the company’s voice-enabled room assistants can help hotel staff by providing a more efficient and contactless experience.

How is Covid-19 changing guest expectations and what solutions can technology provide to solve those problems?

David Millili: While high-quality service and convenience have always been a priority, high-touch service must now be delivered without the ‘touch’ aspect. Guests are expecting safer and stricter safety protocols, especially given how many people from different places walk through the doors of hotels each day. For the foreseeable future, then, hoteliers need to adopt new practices and technologies to support these new safety expectations while also balancing the challenges of travel restrictions, stretched staff and lower occupancy rates.

Hotels are thus adopting technologies to create a contactless experience, from mobile check-ins, to digital key cards, to in-room virtual assistants – all to eliminate physically touching or interacting with others more than necessary.

By reducing many common touchpoints with staff through AI and guest apps, travellers can expect the same high level of service they’ve become accustomed to. Some hotels have adopted robots for cleaning, voice technology for touchless smart functionality in the rooms, and options for contactless delivery of food items or room essentials.

How does Angie Hospitality use technology to enhance the guest experience?

Angie’s voice-enabled guest room assistants complement the hotel staff by providing a more efficient and contactless approach to fulfilling requests and answering questions.

The in-room assistants provide convenience to guests by offering smart room capabilities, including lighting controls, thermostat adjustments, opening curtains and setting the alarm. They can also book amenities, ask directions and get information about the hotel. It is contactless – addressing safety concerns and adding the modern conveniences of home to the hotel room. Angie also offers TV casting for choice of content viewing, reliable cloud PBX for calling and adhering to safety regulations, and a guest app that complements the convenience offered from the in-room assistants.

How is your line of products uniquely suited to the demands being placed on hoteliers during Covid-19?

With stretched staff and lower occupancy, making these quick shifts can be challenging for hoteliers. Being able to streamline requests and eliminate drop-bys at the front desk is key during these challenging times. Angie manages many of the common requests and answers questions typically handled by housekeeping and the front desk. This frees up time to increase cleaning protocols and handle other operational pieces in the hotel.

Our cloud PBX service has drastically cut some of our customers’ phone bills – up to half in some cases. Knowing the challenges of our hotel customers, we doubled down on our R&D efforts to provide new options that can help with their recovery efforts and save money in the process.

Additionally, Angie offers subscription pricing for hotels wanting to update outdated equipment without the upfront, per-room costs typically associated with hardware in our industry. It’s a cost-effective option to add contactless technologies to the hotel and rooms.

You are credited with creating the world’s first 24-hour interactive guest room assistant. Why is it important, especially in today’s environment?

Juniper Research says that a massive 4.2 billion digital voice assistants were used worldwide this year. It’s not a big leap to assume guests want the same technologies in hotels that they have at home. We created our platform with the guest journey in mind to provide the same conveniences while traveling.

AI is an important differentiator for hotels, both from a guest experience standpoint and a staff efficiency perspective. But none of us could have predicted just how critical Angie Hospitality would become to the industry as hotels look to implement new protocols in safety and contactless strategies to make guests feel safe.

 

This Q&A originally appeared in Hotel Management International Magazine – Winter 2020 Edition