‘Alexa, room service’ – virtual concierge checks in to Village in UK hotels first

Martin Jordan, director of innovation at Equator, with the virtual concierge.

The Village is introducing Amazon Echo Dots in guest rooms in its 28 hotels in the UK, beginning with Warrington, where the company’s HQ is located, and its newest site, in Glasgow. The Dots have been customised by the innovation team at Glasgow-based creative agency Equator to ‘Ask Village’ questions such as restaurant, pool, gym and spa opening times, things to do in the local area, checkout times and to set wake-up calls.

“Simple instructions on the device inform guests not to ask the virtual concierge about next week’s winning lottery numbers, if Donald Trump’s hair is real, if their bum looks big or to explain infinity,” said a spokesperson. “There are some things we just aren’t meant to know.”

The hotel brand is focused on creating a multi-channel experience for its customers in other ways too. In May, Equator installed Village’s first ‘totem screen’ at the Warrington site. These 70-inch customisable, interactive digital screens will be installed in all Village hotel lobbies by in the next few months, sharing time-relevant content personalised to each site. Customers will be able to find out about different offers and events taking place at the hotel as well as useful information including gym class times and the weather.

The technology is being developed by Equator in advance of Village launching its 29th hotel in Portsmouth this year which will be its most hi-tech yet, integrating this technology with every aspect of the room experience from entertainment to air conditioning. Village, which was established in 1995, has worked in partnership with Equator for the last decade, with the creative agency launching Village’s new website in 2016.

Rob Paterson, commercial director at Village Hotels, said: “As technology continues to evolve, customers expect a consistently seamless service. That’s why we have chosen to invest significantly in giving guests a truly multi-channel experience where they have access to all the services and information they require, right at their fingertips.

“We’ve worked closely with Equator to create that experience, first with our intuitive website that makes booking a simple and speedy process for customers, and now with the roll out of the Amazon Echo Dot and interactive screens. The response to these exciting additions has been overwhelmingly positive – we’re looking forward to implementing the devices within all Village hotels and opening our most hi-tech site yet in Portsmouth later this year.”

Since it was established in 1999, Equator has been at the forefront of digital technology and transformational thinking. The company’s 170 experts create connected experiences that grow brands and improve lives. Martin Jordan, director of innovation at Equator, added: “We absolutely love working with Village Hotels – it’s definitely one of the most forward-thinking brands in the industry.

“The team is always excited to hear what ideas we have in the pipeline for them and aren’t afraid of taking risks which has rewarded the business greatly. Equipping its hotels with Alexa is a huge innovation for Village and the UK hotel industry in its entirety, but we have a whole lot more up our sleeve for the future.”