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Trying out the ‘Siri for room service’ at a ritzy hotel

Trying out the ‘Siri for room service’ at a ritzy hotel


LOS ANGELES (Circa) — Room service is only a text message away at more and more hotels these days. But one of the companies outfitting resorts with this tech, GoMoment, has taken things a step further by adding artificial intelligence and, more recently, voice-controlled smart speakers, to create a sort of Siri for hotel hospitality.

During a recent demo at Santa Monica's Oceana Beach Club Hotel, the smart system, called Ivy, showed off its capabilities.

At the front-desk check-in, guests are asked to give over a phone number in order to register with Ivy. (For follow-up stays, the hotel said, this step can be skipped with most of the check-in being handled that part and deal directly with Ivy for checking in.)

"Hey, Google, ask Ivy concierge," was the command to pull up Ivy. "How may I help you?" was its response. "Order room service," and then, "one chicken sandwich," was all it took to process the request.

A short time later, a chicken sandwich (as described on the menu) was hand delivered to the room. Human hands, of course. GoMoment CEO Raj Singh said in a talk during the demo day that his company is, however, hoping to eventually bring in delivery robots at some hotels to handle this kind of physical concierge legwork, too.

Next was the same delivery trick — but while poolside. And this time it was texting Ivy for a beer. Since it was a more complicated request, Ivy had to ask for assistance from someone at the front desk. That person hopped into the text thread to ask what kind of beer the guest wanted and, so that the server could find the guest. The process was still far more convenient than trying to flag down a server walking to the bar.

For now, what Ivy can handle all by itself without any human intervention are general info questions about the hotel. For instance, texting Ivy, "What's the Wi-Fi password?" got back a text response in seconds. Same idea went for asking where the fitness center is through the Google Home. Eventually, Ivy automation will reach smart home devices/appliances inside of rooms, like the TV, the lights and the thermostat. Today, the service can be found in "most leading hotels," Singh said, including some Sherton, Hilton, Holiday Inn, Double Tree and Marriott locations, though luxury hotels like Oceana Beach Club or resorts like Caesars Palace in Las Vegas will be among the first to see Ivy's freshest features.

"In a lot of hotels, we automate 20 to 30 percent of requests all the way up to 40 to 50 percent of the requests at certain hotels," Singh explained. "So over time, we think that that’s going to increase."

For now, Ivy feels like a smart and fun though not yet life-changing convenience for frequent travelers. But with all its potential growth ahead of it, you may soon be basing whether a hotel has Ivy to determine whether you'll want to book your stay there.

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