Just How Dangerous Is Alexa? – Thinking of adding one to your rental?

The “willing suspension of disbelief” is the idea that we (the audience, readers, viewers, content consumers) are willing to suspend judgment about the implausibility of the narrative for the quality of our own enjoyment. We do it all the time.

Conceptually I like the idea of having a voice activated/commanding device for my guests, especially older generations that struggle with technology but as an owner I would want to secure it and control the level of access it would provide for my guests. On the upside, think of the potential side hustle income this could create…. e.g., concierge services, “room service” functionality, what else? Could a device similar to this be customized for our use?

I think they’re amazing but I too am slightly suspicious. I wrote an article a while back on Smarthosts about them: Spice Up Your Vacation Rental With Artificial intelligence: Amazon Echo

Maybe we will add it to all of them…

After reading that Wynn Las Vegas is putting an Amazon Echo in every hotel room, I began investigating how it might be helpful for an Airbnb host. Ultimately, I became convinced that it would be useful for guests simply as a kind of voice-activated alarm clock / radio. So, I bought a $49 Amazon Echo Dot to tinker with. It’s got a so-so but good enough speaker and otherwise is reported to work as well as the full sized $179 Amazon Echo. In addition to being cheaper, the smaller speaker in the Dot is actually a bit of a plus for us in that it reduces the likelihood of excess noise. Right now, the plan is to put the Amazon Echo Dot on a bedside table with a small explanatory card. The card will suggest something like the following uses:

Try saying:

“Alexa, play a song by Ray Charles”
“Alexa, stop”
“Alexa, set an alarm for 7am”
“Alexa, cancel my alarm for 7am”
“Alexa, what’s the weather”
“Alexa, what’s in the news”
Why do this? To quote a recent article:

“The ultimate goal here,” he said, turning to a well-worn Disney phrase, “is to delight and surprise our guests.” http://www.nytimes.com/2017/01/04/business/media/coming-to-carnival-cruises-a-wearable-medallion-that-records-your-every-whim.html