Amazon Alexa in Vacation Rentals

Provide Your Guests a Fun New Way to Cook Together

By Dana Young

Provide Ambient Sleep Sounds to Help Guests Sleep Better

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 the idea of use cases for Alexa in the kitchen. You will find a description of the value proposition for guests, what you need in order to deliver that value, and setup instructions.

Value Proposition

Without a doubt, food is one of the central experiences of a vacation. As such, it also represents one of the biggest opportunities to spend time together. Extending this time beyond eating the food to preparing it provides a shared goal the group can work toward accomplishing together. This naturally builds relationship. The ingredients are all here for making great memories on vacation together.

A lot of questions come up in the kitchen, for both experienced cooks and young aspiring chefs. With many cooks in the kitchen, there will be many questions that come along! This is especially true in an unfamiliar kitchen like in a vacation rental property. Alexa can be a great help here.

Locating a particular kitchen utensil or small appliance can often feel like a game of hide-and-seek. In your kitchen at home it is completely second-nature to pull out the rolling pin or cutting board. In a vacation rental, that can involve opening every cupboard and drawer in the kitchen. Instead, what if guests could simply ask Alexa where that item is located?

Alexa is also great with recipes. Content from Allrecipes is available natively on the Alexa platform. With it, your guests have access to over 60,000 recipes, all with a purely hands-free experience. Using just their voice, guests can quickly finds recipes that match their desired dish type, ingredients they have on hand, their available cooking time, and/or their preferred cooking method. If they need to make a quick trip to the store for ingredients, they can just ask Alexa to send the recipe to a phone.

Examples of Guest Interactions with Alexa in the Kitchen

Here are a few examples of interactions that demonstrate Alexa’s value as an assistant in the kitchen.

Interactions begin with “Alexa…”:

Guest: “Use the concierge service.”
Alexa: “Welcome to the Lodge at Palmer Lake...how can I help?”
“Where are the pot holders?”
“Pot holders are located in the cupboard directly to the left of the microwave.”
Guest: “Give me a recipe for how to prepare chicken.”
Alexa: “OK, for chicken I recommend the top recipe called chicken parmesan, which takes one hour to make. You can ask for more information...”
Guest: “Use the concierge service.”
Alexa: “Welcome to the Lodge at Palmer Lake...how can I help?”
“How do I use the dishwasher?”
“Dishwasher controls are hidden on the inside edge of the door. To start a load, close the door, hit normal wash, then hit start, and then close the door. Be sure to use the Finish jet dry rinse aid we have provided under the sink.”
Guest: “How many teaspoons are in a tablespoon?”
Alexa: “1 tablespoon = 3 teaspoons”
Guest: “What are the ingredients for Tiramisu?”
Alexa: “To make 6 servings of Tiramisu you’ll need...”
Guest: “Start a timer for 10 minutes”
Alexa: “10 minutes, starting now”
Guest: “How many calories are in a cheeseburger?”
Alexa: “...a typical size provides 535 calories”

What You Will Need

To provide these helpful capabilities to guests through Alexa, you’ll just need any device within the Amazon Echo family of products.

To provide guests the ability to ask Alexa for help in locating items in the kitchen, you will want to enable the Virtual Concierge skill. 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. For more information about the value the virtual concierge can provide your guests, you can reference this resource.

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.

Virtual Concierge Specifics

If you have opted in to provide the virtual concierge to your guests, you can define those specifics in the virtual concierge management portal. Once you have followed the setup instructions for the virtual concierge, add a section to your custom content called ‘The Kitchen’. In that section, you can define where a variety of utensils and small appliances are located.

Here is an example:

Virtual Concierge Kitchen Example

In the same fashion, you can also provide any helpful information to guests about nuances of your particular kitchen. For example, maybe the controls to your dishwasher are not intuitive, or there has been a pattern of coffee pot spills from guests using too much coffee in the filter. These situations could be helped by content like this:

Virtual Concierge Kitchen Example

The kitchen is most often the hub of activity in a home. Alexa can help you make it that much more inviting to your valued guests.


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.