Google is partnering with hotel chains to incorporate Nest Hub smart displays and Google Assistant to hotel rooms. The hospitality program is aimed at giving guests contactless access to information and amenities, something that’s become especially important for travelers and hotel employees during the ongoing COVID-19 health crisis that also reduces costs to the hotel.
The hospitality benefits program is built around a Nest Hub smart display in the room. Google Assistant acts as a kind of personal concierge for hotel amenities, linking to the hotel’s system to arrange wake-up calls or fulfill requests for towels and toiletries. The voice assistant accesses the hotel’s database to answer questions about what’s available, including any special deals. Depending on the hotel, the smart display can handle check-outs so the guest can just leave directly from their room. Hotels can have the voice assistant ask guests to fill out a survey about their stay at some point, which can be useful if there’s an issue the guest may not have directly complained about.
“With Google’s new hospitality solution, we are partnering with hotels of every size to bring the best of Google to your hotel while also helping make your stay more contactless,” Google explained in a blog post. “The new experience can also be configured by the hotel to let you control and manage devices in the room, like blinds, TVs, lights and more.”
Google is also working with companies like Volara to integrate into the hotel systems into the Nest Hubs. The smart displays can connect to a guest’s smartphone via Bluetooth to play music, but there’s no sign-in to use your account on the device. Any activity information is wiped out when the guest signs out. The system protects user privacy, but does limit the personalization options. Only a handful of hotels have added Nest Hubs to their rooms, scattered around the U.S. in Arizona, California, Florida, New York, and Washington, D.C. as well as the Village Hotels in the United Kingdom.
The Hub doesn’t have a built-in camera (as opposed to the Hub Max). That was a conscious omission on Google’s part that’s really welcome when inviting a device into an intimate setting like a hotel room. The company notes that guests won’t be able to sign in on the device, so no personal info will be shared.
China is well on its way to implementing smart hotel rooms as a standard feature too. Chinese hospitality tech startup Xiezhu raised RMB 258 million, around $37 million this year for adding smart tech to hotels, competing with giants like Baidu, who partnered with InterContinental Hotels Group to bring AI-powered smart displays to suites in several hotels in the country. Even without the pandemic as an issue, it simply costs less to use AI once it’s installed than it does to take up employee hours by answering the same questions from every guest in person. Voice assistants of any brand are going to be as prevalent in hotel rooms as color televisions eventually.
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