Amazon Alexa in Vacation Rentals

Assist Guests with Pairing Wine & Food, How Long to Grill, or Making Cocktails

By Dana Young

Assist Guests with Pairing Wine & Food, How Long to Grill, or Making Cocktails

Overview

As a vacation rental owner or manager, you may have begun exploring the use of Amazon Alexa at your property. I’ve had many VR pros reach out and ask, “How can I leverage an Amazon Echo at my vacation rental?”. This series of guides is intended to help with that question, and provide actionable information that will help you improve your guest’s experience.

In this guide, we are going to focus on how Alexa can assist guests with common vacation activities at a rental home: wine selection, BBQ and bartending . You will find a description of the value proposition for guests, exactly what you need in order to deliver that value, and setup instructions, including specific resources to take advantage of.

Value Proposition

Nothing says vacation better than a relaxing afternoon cocktail, great grilled food and a perfect wine to go with it. Maybe these leisure activities aren’t all happening together, but over the course of their stay, there is a good chance that your guests have one or more of them on the agenda for their getaway at your vacation rental. Alexa can add some value and some fun to each of them.

The basic premise here is that your guests may not have brought along a professional bartender, a BBQ aficionado and a wine sommelier, but what if all three were waiting at their service when they arrived at your property? That’s the idea behind having this expertise available through Alexa. Guests can ask questions and have access to domain knowledge that experts have embedded in this voice assistant platform.

What You Will Need

To provide these helpful capabilities to guests through Alexa, you’ll need any device within the Amazon Echo family of products, as well as some free add-on capabilities called Skills. If you are unfamiliar with the platform, Alexa skills are like apps. You can enable and disable skills, using the Alexa app or a web browser, in the same way that you install and uninstall apps on your smartphone or tablet. Skills are voice-driven Alexa capabilities.

Alexa acts as that friend that knows everybody, and will connect guests with the right expert (the right skill). Here are the particular skills that can help behind the bar, at the grill or with the wine:

The Bartender

The Bartender is an Alexa skill specifically focused on cocktail recipes. Guests can ask about any cocktail they might want to try - a margarita, a cosmopolitan, a mojito and many more. The Bartender will tell them the ingredients, amounts to use and detailed instructions for making the cocktail. They can also search cocktail recipes by a particular ingredient or spirit type. Or if they need inspiration, they can ask The Bartender to surprise them by suggesting a random drink recipe.

Here are some examples of what guests can ask, opening the conversation with “Alexa, let me talk to the bartender...”:

“What is a drink using mint?”
“How do I make an Old Fashioned?”
“What's in a Negroni?”

Wine Finder

Wine Finder is available as your guest’s very own personal sommelier. As they prepare for a shopping run, your guests may be wondering what type of wine to have to go with their dinner selection. They can simply say, “Alexa, ask wine finder what wine goes well with grilled chicken”. Within seconds, a suggestion for the right wine is given. With more than 500 food pairings, Wine Finder is likely to find their ideal match.

Here are some examples of what guests can ask, opening the conversation with “Alexa, open wine finder...”:

“what wine goes well with Apple Pie?”
“What wine goes with Pizza?”
“What wine should I have with Beef?”

Grilling Guide

Guests on grill duty can get tips on making food turn out great as well. For example, Grilling Guide can tell them what the safe internal temperature of chicken should be, or what a recommended sequence is for cooking it.

Here are some examples of what guests can ask, opening the conversation with “Alexa, talk to the grilling guide...”:

“How do I barbecue a New York Strip?”
“How do I grill chicken breast?”

Setup Instructions

Amazon Echo Setup

You will want to set up the Echo(s) in your vacation rental property with a separate Amazon account that is specific to that property. If you have more than one Echo at your property, use that same account for all the devices at that location. Details for how to do that (including a great trick to simplify the process) as well as the reasons why it should be done are described here.

Once you have a separate account for the Echo(s) at your vacation rental property, you can follow the basic Echo setup instructions here. There are options for either downloading the Alexa app for IOS / Android, or using the app from your PC’s browser via https://alexa.amazon.com.

Enabling the Alexa Skills

Making these skills available to your guests on Alexa is easy:

  1. Go to alexa.amazon.com or open the Alexa app on your iOS or Android device.
  2. Next, click Skills in the left menu.
  3. In the Search bar, type the name of the skill and select it.
  4. Click the Enable button.


Dana Young
Dana Young is a vacation rental owner in the technology industry. Along with founding the virtual concierge, he also developed TrackVacs, as a way to give back to the vacation rental community and help single property owners manage their business.