Amazon Alexa in Vacation Rentals

Providing Voice-Based Group Games for Guests to Have Fun Together

By Dana Young

Amazon Echo Game Applications

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 group games. Alexa has a lot to offer here that you may not have considered. 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

Helping your guests spend quality time together and building great memories is one of the most important things you can do to enhance their vacation experience. Games have always been a wonderful way to connect people, and make them laugh. Many of my own fondest memories of our vacations together as a family were made playing games together.

You may already have some board games or card games at your VR. I know we do. As our kids got older, we began moving the games from our home to our VR for guest use. While they have been nice additions, unfortunately there are a few challenges as well:

Alexa provides a fantastic alternative - voice-based games with no pieces to lose that guests can learn quickly and have a blast playing together. Better yet, most Alexa-based games are free!

What You Will Need

The Basics
Providing Alexa-based games to your guests is easy. Games are available as Alexa skills on any device within the Amazon Echo family of products. 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. Once your Echo device is set up, all you need to do is to enable the appropriate game skill. From there, the key is just to let guests know what is available to them. There are a few ways I recommend to do this:
Echo Buttons
Echo Buttons deliver another way for guests to play voice games with friends and family. Buttons come in 2-packs, and most games handle between 2 and 4 buttons. For large groups, guests can team up and have one button per team. There are no wires, the buttons communicate with an Echo via Bluetooth. That provides for great flexibility, but of course means replacing batteries from time to time.
Recommended Voice-Only Games
Here are some games that do not use Echo Buttons that guests will enjoy as a group:
Song Quiz
Guest can challenge each other’s musical acumen with thousands of songs from the last 60 years. The objective in Song Quiz is to guess the correct title and artist. Players can select one of the playlists for different decades: 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s or 2010s.
Yes Sire
Needy peasants. A backstabbing nobility. A king who is never satisfied. Nobody said that running a feudal fiefdom would be easy. But with this Alexa game, it is bound to be entertaining. In Yes Sire you sit as a medieval lord of the realm, presented with an ever-expanding array of difficult choices. Your guest’s challenge is to make good choices and stay in power as long as they can. Playing as a group is bound to generate interesting discussion to arrive at a decision.
Would You Rather for Family
Would You Rather for Family is a simple but addicting game where you make a choice between two lighthearted and silly situations. Will the rest of the world agree with your decision? Your guests can enjoy hundreds of fun, family-friendly questions to keep all ages entertained for hours. Would You Rather is available in multi-player mode so guests can enjoy with the entire family.
The Magic Door
Do your guests have young children? Adults in the family can watch young faces light up with a sense of wonderment as they spend time together using The Magic Door. This is an Alexa-powered interactive adventure game with original stories. Players can tell Alexa what choices to make as you explore a magical land with various regions, including a forest, sea, garden and castle. They will collect hidden items, solve riddles, and help magical creatures.
True or False?
This is a trivia game that has new facts from around the world added every week. Guests can play True or False with up to 20 people, making it a fantastic, no-prep way for a large group to have fun together. Players answer with either true or false and see how much they really know about the world we live in.
Bingo
Everyone enjoys the timeless classic, Bingo. You can print bingo cards and have them ready for guest use.
Akinator
Work together to challenge Akinator, who can read minds and tell you what character your group is thinking about, just by asking a few questions. Guests think of a real or fictional character and Akinator will try to guess who it is.
The Wayne Investigation
Guests can put their sleuthing skills to work in The Wayne Investigation, In this mystery game, Alexa guides you as you hit the mean streets of Gotham to investigate the murder of young Bruce Wayne’s parents. Can your group navigate around the story’s dead ends to find the path that solves the crime?
Escape The Room
In Escape The Room, as the name implies you are trapped in a room. You must navigate through a room, solving puzzles and finding items and objects you can interact with. There are four different rooms to choose from, each with varying levels of difficulty. This game stores your progress so your guests can take all week to escape a room. Make a note to guests that they can say ‘choose new room’ to start the game over if the previous group didn’t finish their game.
Millionaire Quiz Game
Remember ‘Who Wants to Be a Millionaire’? Millionaire Quiz Game is an unofficial Alexa version. You will be asked a series of 14 multiple choice questions. Each time you answer correctly, players earn virtual money and progress to the next question. Along the way, you have three lifelines to use: 50/50, which eliminates two of the four possible answers, ask social media and phone a friend. If you answer all 14 questions correctly, you win bragging rights and $1,000,000 in your mind.
Deal Or No Deal Game
Deal Or No Deal Game begins by selecting 1 of 20 cases, each containing a hidden amount of money ranging from $.01 to $1,000,000. The case you chose stays by your side throughout the remainder of the game, and you begin to open the remaining cases in a series of rounds to reveal the amount of money inside them. At the end of each round Alexa will receive a phone call from "The Banker" who will offer you a sum of money to quit the game and forfeit your case. If you think your case contains more than the Banker's offer, you turn down the deal and continue playing the game. If you think your case is worth less than the Banker's offer, you accept the deal, the game ends, and your case is revealed to see if you made the right choice. Your goal is to out-smart the Banker and finish the game with the greatest amount of money possible.
Jeopardy
Based on the long-standing game show Jeopardy!, This game lets guests step up to the podium and test their knowledge. They can even play Jeopardy with the categories that were aired on the latest episode.
Heads Up!
Heads Up! is the game from Ellen DeGeneres that she plays on her show. Alexa will provide clues to help you guess the word on the card, from naming celebrities to identifying your favorite movies. The objective is to guess the word before the timer runs out.
BOSCH: A Detective's Case
Based on the Amazon original show Bosch, BOSCH: A Detective's Case will put your guests in the detective's shoes. Working with Harry Bosch and the LAPD, they have just one day to find a woman who mysteriously disappeared. Players need to make the right decisions along the way and avoid the false leads they come by.
Categories Game
Categories Game is a fast-paced word game much like Scattergories. You're given a set of categories and a letter. Then you have to quickly come up with words that begin with the given letter for each of the categories before time is up. Guests can work together, or compete to see who can get the highest score. Players are scored on how quickly and accurately they answer each category. For example, if you do not get a particular category or provide a wrong answer, the score for that category in that round is zero. If you answer correctly, your score is 50 minus the number of seconds it takes you to answer.
The Fake News Game
In The Fake News Game, players are given ridiculous headlines and must choose whether it's actual news or fake news. Guests can play this game with up to 20 people in their group. Remember the old adage - truth may be stranger than fiction.
Recommended Voice & Button Games
Here are some games that use Echo Buttons that guests will enjoy as a group:
Party Foul
This is a chance for guests to test how much they really know about each other. In Party Foul, players put their knowledge to the test as they try to predict how their friends will answer in this laugh-out-loud game of revealing questions and embarrassing answers. Playable on 2 to 4 Echo Buttons.
Don't Cut That Wire!
In this pressure cooker pattern memory game, guests will work together with friends to coordinate and communicate the right colors to press to defuse a bomb. Their mission in Don’t Cut That Wire! is to not let the bomb explode by always pressing the right color combination for bomb defusing success. Playable on 2 to 4 Echo Buttons.
Hanagram
Hanagram is a quiz game based on solving anagrams, and makes use of 2 to 4 Echo buttons. Alexa will read a series of letter clues, and the first team to buzz in and guess the word, gets the point. The first team to get 3 points wins.
Trivial Pursuit Tap
In this classic game, Trivial Pursuit Tap by Hasbro pits guests against each other in a fast-paced trivia race to the finish line. Compete with friends to be the first to buzz in and answer questions from one of six categories. If you answer correctly, you can push your luck and attempt more category questions. Win the game by answering the final challenge question correctly. Playable on 2 to 4 Echo Buttons.
Bonus Capability of Your Alexa Device
Still have board games at your vacation rental but the dice have disappeared? Guests can ask Alexa to roll virtual dice for you. Say "Alexa, roll two dice." Alexa will then tell you what was rolled.

Set Up 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 Games
Making games 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, identify the game you are interested in and select it
  4. Click the Enable button. If account linking is required, login with the Amazon account associated with your vacation rental property.
Disabling Voice-Enabled Purchasing
Some games have the option for the voice equivalent of in-app purchasing. You will want to turn this off. To do so:
  1. Go to alexa.amazon.com or open the Alexa app on your iOS or Android device.
  2. Next, click Settings in the left menu.
  3. Scroll down and select Voice Purchasing.
  4. Click the toggle beside Purchase by voice to disable the feature.


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.