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How To Use Alexa In Your Vacation Rental As A Guest Concierge!

Posted by Jay William on 01/12/2018
| 8 Comments

I recently shared an article about Artificial Intelligence and how it’ll reshape travel for years to come- especially the vacation rental industry. 

 

 In that blog, you found tips and technology ideas all centered around AI. I explained why you should wield it in your vacation rental business now – not later!

 

 In this post, I’ll share several ways you can use Artificial Intelligence to provide a much more tailored experience for each traveler who encounters your brand.

 

 AI For Your Vacation Rentals

 Can Alexa give you an edge in your vacation rental business? 

 

 There’s no doubt! 

 

 But how?

 

 What if your property came with a personal concierge? Wouldn’t that help retain more guests and their attention?

 

 That’s something Alexa can help you with.

 And I’ll tell you how! 

 

 Alexa uses applications called “skills” and these skills allow Alexa to perform specific actions for you. 

 

 These actions are programmed by third party developers who create cool stuff for Alexa to do. 

 

 You have to activate these skills from the Amazon app to “teach” Alexa a specific skill. Activating a skill is very simple, but fine-tuning Alexa takes a little more time.

 

 Here’s a list of Alexa skills for you to browse. 

 

 Check them out for anything that will help you in your business and personal life. 

 

 You can also check out this list of Alexa commands to help you see some of the standard skills that she’s capable of.

 

 I expect more skill development for the vacation rental industry coming very soon. Do you?

 

 Do you think we could soon see the day where someone simply says, “Alexa, find me a 3 bedroom condo on XYZ site for less than 250 a night”? 

 

 Not just yet, but it’s a space we’ll need to watch closely. 

 

 And what if Alexa could answer questions like “what’s the wifi code?” or “what are some things to do around here?” or “where are the best places to eat?”

 

 And what if Alexa provided your guests with your handpicked recommendations and answered common questions with specific information about your rental and service providers?

 

 Think of the possibilities and the time you can save by answering frequently asked questions guests have. 

 

 I stumbled across an Alexa skill that peaked my interest and I wanted to share it with you. It’s called the Virtual Vacation Rental Concierge. 

 

 With the explosion of the Echo and Google Home devices this holiday season, this skill has become more relevant than ever.  

 

 Check out the functions of the Virtual Vacation Rental Concierge in this video. It was developed by Dana Young. I have no affiliation with Virtual Vacation Rental Concierge. 

 

 

 Here is a video that shows how guests can interact with their AI chatbot. This allows travelers to access your curated information from their mobile device even before they arrive. I’m checking it out and thought you might be interested too-

 Think about the improvements Artificial Intelligence can provide to your guest’s experience. Alexa can help you immerse travelers in the culture. 

 

 Some guests rent vacation homes for the kitchen. Why not provide them with a list of authentic local recipes and the best farmers markets.

 

 With the recent explosion of Google Home and Echo products sales, more people live with Alexa. She’s like family now – it might be nice to hear a familiar voice to welcome them home.

 

 The Echo Plus includes a built-in smart home hub that can connect with, and control more devices like the ring doorbell camera, electronic door locks, adjustable lighting and other smart home devices. 

 

 You can also use the Echo and Google home to give guests the power to control the TV via their voice by using Amazon’s Fire Stick or Google’s Chromecast.

 

 When setting up an Echo or Google home product, it’s a good idea to leave laminated instructions in the home that tells the guests what voice commands are available to them.

 

 This can be a great marketing tool that you can use to highlight your home’s benefits. 

 

 If your home is smart, does it make others that aren’t look dumb? 

 

 This year you’ll need to focus more than ever on your guest’s experience, so you can keep the guests you earn. AI can give you that extra edge in your guest’s experience.

 

 Are you using the Echo in your vacation rentals? Are there any tips or tricks that are working for you? 

 

 Please share any thoughts or ideas below.

Jay William
Lets Connect

Jay William

Vacation Rental Marketer, Blogger, Entrepreneur & Advocate at BreakawayVR & CEO @ Villa Marketers
I'm the creator of BreakAwayVR & CEO of Villa Marketers. I left my position as the exclusive vacation rental marketer for TripAdvisor to work side by side with owners and managers to create solutions to the problems their facing in their vacation rental business. I love vacation rentals! I've worked in the VR field for 14 years.
Jay William
Lets Connect

8 thoughts on “How To Use Alexa In Your Vacation Rental As A Guest Concierge!

  • Hi Jay

    Great article. I have been moving towards smart home rentals since 20114. Back then, it was installing ‘dedicated’ Internet LANs in my rental apartments (so the renter doesn’t have to rely on wifi), or using motion sensors and timers that automatically turned lights on/off. I even had my rental properties configured with WIFI Thermostats, to remotely control the heat/cooling settings. These “smart features” helped my units rent quickly and for long periods. They also helped me manage utility costs.

    Now that I have ventured into the VR space, I purposely built our first rental condo overseas with Smart Home Technology in mind! And YES, I do have Alexa along for the journey. From the first few guests our PM has in our space, Alexa has been the “evening” entertainment to some!

    I currently have:
    1. Wemo switches for lamp operations/security when the condo is vacant,
    2. dimmable Philips Hue lights (with the remote control switch) in the living room for ambience when watching movies or convenience when they walk in the front door late in the evening
    3. solar/battery operated outdoor motion detectors that provide light at night (to reduce electricity consumption and avoid leaving unnecessary lights on the front porch)
    4. SmartThings hub w/ Aeotec door sensors to monitor “unauthorized” rental activity in the condo.
    5. Canary security camera/air monitor to record/view unauthorized/non-disclosed entrance in the condo & monitor air temperature/humidity to avoid mold growth if the unit is not aired out. This unit even comes with two-way audio which is a great security or “call” feature to link guests to the PM or myself
    6. The Nest CO/Smoke alarm – for guest protection and monitoring of any smoke or fire in the unit
    6. Amazon Alexa. When I know where guests are flying in from, I preload Alexa with news and radio content from their area, so that they can stay connected with what’s going on back home. The Alexa is also paired with the WEMO & Phillips lights and have other great skills, including VR Virtual Concierge loaded to personalize the guest experience

    All devices except for the motion detectors are integrated with IFFFT for added automation and rules.

    I plan to add more devices over time, but as this was my first foray into AI and home automation (I don’t even have these gadgets at home), I didn’t want to go overboard. So far, the reaction has been positive and I haven’t driven my PM mad with how to configure/maintain it all!

    • What a wealth of information here. Thanks for sharing the gadgets and gizmos you’re using. I’m sure owners will glean from this to help them create a better experience for guests. Two thumbs way up!

  • Hi Jay

    Great article. I have been moving towards smart home rentals since 20114. Back then, it was installing ‘dedicated’ Internet LANs in my rental apartments (so the renter doesn’t have to rely on wifi), or using motion sensors and timers that automatically turned lights on/off. I even had my rental properties configured with WIFI Thermostats, to remotely control the heat/cooling settings. These “smart features” helped my units rent quickly and for long periods. They also helped me manage utility costs.

    Now that I have ventured into the VR space, I purposely built our first rental condo overseas with Smart Home Technology in mind! And YES, I do have Alexa along for the journey. From the first few guests our PM has in our space, Alexa has been the “evening” entertainment to some!

    I currently have:
    1. Wemo switches for lamp operations/security when the condo is vacant,
    2. dimmable Philips Hue lights (with the remote control switch) in the living room for ambience when watching movies or convenience when they walk in the front door late in the evening
    3. solar/battery operated outdoor motion detectors that provide light at night (to reduce electricity consumption and avoid leaving unnecessary lights on the front porch)
    4. SmartThings hub w/ Aeotec door sensors to monitor “unauthorized” rental activity in the condo.
    5. Canary security camera/air monitor to record/view unauthorized/non-disclosed entrance in the condo & monitor air temperature/humidity to avoid mold growth if the unit is not aired out. This unit even comes with two-way audio which is a great security or “call” feature to link guests to the PM or myself
    6. The Nest CO/Smoke alarm – for guest protection and monitoring of any smoke or fire in the unit
    6. Amazon Alexa. When I know where guests are flying in from, I preload Alexa with news and radio content from their area, so that they can stay connected with what’s going on back home. The Alexa is also paired with the WEMO & Phillips lights and have other great skills, including VR Virtual Concierge loaded to personalize the guest experience

    All devices except for the motion detectors are integrated with IFFFT for added automation and rules.

    I plan to add more devices over time, but as this was my first foray into AI and home automation (I don’t even have these gadgets at home), I didn’t want to go overboard. So far, the reaction has been positive and I haven’t driven my PM mad with how to configure/maintain it all!

    • What a wealth of information here. Thanks for sharing the gadgets and gizmos you’re using. I’m sure owners will glean from this to help them create a better experience for guests. Two thumbs way up!

  • Sandy & Philippe

    Bonjour Jay,

    We’ve been following you and always enjoy reading your articles. They are very insightful and always interesting. This one on future (ie NOW) of AI makes us a bit nervous.

    We own one small property in the heart of Paris and have been welcoming guests for the past 11 years. We live close by and manage our rental ourselves. We could not agree with you more about the importance of providing guests with an experience they will cherish and that will bring them back.
    Well before their arrival, we try to get to know each guest; their personal interests, their expectations of their trip, their lifestyle in general,… Through emails, we build a relationship with our guests. In this way, we are able to provide them with information that will be most useful to them. We also include our guests in our outings; be it the farmers markets; jazz clubs , cultural events, the flea markets, the theatre, day-trips, or simply a drink at our local café or a walk in an atypical neighborhood.
    I guess you could say we act as their concierge.
    All this to say that we prefer personal human contact. And that is why ‘Alexa’ makes us nervous. We hope that in this vast and ever-growing industry (tourism and vacation rentals), there will alwyas be a demand for old-fashion personal service.
    Merci for hearing us out, Jay! We look forward to your next articles!
    We wish you une Belle et Heureuse Année 2018,
    Sandy & Philippe
    My Little Home in Paris

    • Bonjour Sandy and Philippe.

      Your guests are lucky to have a host like yourself. I wouldn’t fear this technology. I would use it to compliment what you are already offering guests. It can be there for guests when you’re not. We shouldn’t trust the “robots” with everything but rarher use technology to better service guests. We should use tech with the human touch. I’ll share a great example of that in my upcoming post. Thank you for dropping by Sandy and Philippe!

  • Sandy & Philippe

    Bonjour Jay,

    We’ve been following you and always enjoy reading your articles. They are very insightful and always interesting. This one on future (ie NOW) of AI makes us a bit nervous.

    We own one small property in the heart of Paris and have been welcoming guests for the past 11 years. We live close by and manage our rental ourselves. We could not agree with you more about the importance of providing guests with an experience they will cherish and that will bring them back.
    Well before their arrival, we try to get to know each guest; their personal interests, their expectations of their trip, their lifestyle in general,… Through emails, we build a relationship with our guests. In this way, we are able to provide them with information that will be most useful to them. We also include our guests in our outings; be it the farmers markets; jazz clubs , cultural events, the flea markets, the theatre, day-trips, or simply a drink at our local café or a walk in an atypical neighborhood.
    I guess you could say we act as their concierge.
    All this to say that we prefer personal human contact. And that is why ‘Alexa’ makes us nervous. We hope that in this vast and ever-growing industry (tourism and vacation rentals), there will alwyas be a demand for old-fashion personal service.
    Merci for hearing us out, Jay! We look forward to your next articles!
    We wish you une Belle et Heureuse Année 2018,
    Sandy & Philippe
    My Little Home in Paris

    • Bonjour Sandy and Philippe.

      Your guests are lucky to have a host like yourself. I wouldn’t fear this technology. I would use it to compliment what you are already offering guests. It can be there for guests when you’re not. We shouldn’t trust the “robots” with everything but rarher use technology to better service guests. We should use tech with the human touch. I’ll share a great example of that in my upcoming post. Thank you for dropping by Sandy and Philippe!

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