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Alexa in Vacation Rentals: 7 Ways You Can Level Up Your Guest’s Experience

March 7, 2024
Alexa in a Vacation Rental / Airbnb - how to delight guests with Amazon Echo devices like the Echo Show 15.


As a vacation rental host, you may have begun to explore the use of AI at your rental(s).   After all, we have entered the era of digital assistants. ChatGPT is available via a browser and an app, and Amazon has sold more than 500 million Alexa-enabled devices. This technology is beginning to be used everywhere - but it is particularly well suited to vacation rentals. There is particular magic in making AI available in-property, as a feature of your rental. That’s where Alexa comes in. 

The target audience for this guide are short-term rental (STR) hosts in the US, UK and Canada. This is because special Alexa capabilities are available from Amazon and AIPEX in these countries. Broader support is planned in future releases. 

Use Cases

Provide an AI Virtual Concierge for Your Guests

Vacation rental hosts have insight and knowledge to the local area that can make a big difference to the guest experience. This is nothing new - for years we have had a welcome binder with information for guests or a guidebook available on their phone. With AI, guests can get that same kind of personalized information delivered in a way that is like having a real concierge right at your vacation rental. Just speak a question, and get it answered. This natural interface offers the promise of replacing a welcome binder or a guidebook with a conversation. The Virtual Concierge is available through an in-property device via an Amazon Echo Show. It is also available to guests on their phone prior to their arrival, but the focus of this guide is on the in-property experience with an Alexa device. 

By simply asking a question, guests will have immediate access to all the things you would like to make available to them. Your customized content is delivered in a conversational interface with visual queues from a screen as well. You can extend a personal welcome to each group, and then share your ‘insider’ tips. That can include specifics on your property itself, as well as information about the local area - places to go, things to do and events to attend. 

Defining your custom content is as easy as logging in to the Virtual Concierge Management Portal, and simply adding items that you would like to share information about with your guests - what the item is, and what Alexa should say about it. There are extensive features available, such as responding with images and video, and providing links to additional information.

Here are just a few of the kinds of things you can provide your guests with the Virtual Concierge. More than 900 topics and options are available!

  • A welcome video
  • Check in & check out information
  • How to connect to the internet
  • Instructions for dealing with garbage & recycling
  • How to use Alexa to contact the owner or manager
  • Restaurant recommendations
  • Insider tips on local attractions
  • Local shopping opportunities
  • Proactive recommendations based on the weather at the property

But how do guests know that all this is possible just by speaking? The Virtual Concierge has a feature called ‘Home Cards’ which are text and images that are displayed on the screen of Echo Show devices. With this digital signage display, you can let guests know about special things they can do with the system. Just give them examples of the things they can ask for, right on the screen.

Fill Your Vacation Rental with Voice Controlled Music

Music is one of the core use cases for the Amazon Echo. After all, the device is called a Smart ‘Speaker’ for a reason. Based on the availability of popular streaming services, our expectations are now that we can get basically any type of music in the world, and get it immediately. The Amazon Echo is a perfect way to deliver against this expectation. 

Your guests have the option of either streaming music by saying something like “Alexa, play Taylor Swift”, or connecting their phone to the smart speaker via Bluetooth. That later option provides the ability for guests to listen to their own personal playlists and favorites.

Set Up New Ways to Communicate Between You and Your Guest

We all know how important it is to communicate with guests before and after their stay. Leading up to arrival the focus is on things like setting expectations, providing great info and learning a bit about your guests to enable that personal touch we all want to provide. After departure, good follow up can ensure guest satisfaction, continuous improvement and repeat bookings. 

What about during a guest’s stay? The Alexa platform provides an innovative way to further differentiate your guest experience with superior communication. Examples include:

  • Providing a personal welcome, either through text with Alexa speaking, or audio (in your own voice, or with a video.
  • Giving guests a way to contact you that is even easier for them than email, phone or text. After all, the group organizer has your contact information (somewhere), but other guests might not. The system supports a multitude of ways that guests can say they have something that they need help with. These are broken down by department (front desk, maintenance and housekeeping), and you can assign one or more contacts per department to receive the notifications via either text message or email.
  • Alerting guests of any important information mid-stay. Examples could include things like a weather warning, or notifying a group about landscape maintenance. 
  • Using the digital signage available on the screen of Echo Show devices through the Home Cards feature. Often you just want a sign to let guests know about something - now you can do it digitally!

You can send a message to a guest using the AIPEX portal. Once sent, the device at the property chimes briefly and there is a display indicating that the guest has a message waiting for them. 

Remind Guests of Important Things to Do at Check-out

On the day of departure, your guests can get proactively reminded about important things to remember as they leave the property. With check-out reminders, the Virtual Concierge will send a notification to your Alexa device(s) on the day of check-out. When a notification arrives, the device chimes and the light indicator pulses yellow. Guests can then say "Alexa, give me departure instructions" to hear your custom instructions.

Get Notified When Guests Check-out, Plus Get Their Feedback

With the Virtual Concierge, your guests can check-out with their voice.  When they do, you will receive an immediate notification, potentially allowing you to send the cleaning crew in early.

Further, you can also receive immediate feedback about your guest's stay. When guests say "We're checking out" they will be asked if they are willing to do a voice review of their stay. If they agree, you will receive direct feedback. If it is a 5-star review, you can post the enthusiastic voice review on your site to encourage direct bookings. If the guest had a lower rating, you can use toward continuous improvement and addressing issues.

Provide Ambient Sleep Sounds to Help Guests Sleep Better

If you are like many, sometimes it is hard to get a good night’s sleep when you are away from home. It becomes especially tough if there are distracting noises like traffic outside or maybe a snoring companion. Alexa provides an easy fix - skills like Sleep Sounds lets you play ambient sounds to help your guests sleep peacefully or block out unwanted noise. With hundreds of options for high quality sounds to choose from, guests will be able to sleep better, relax quickly, or get their baby to go to sleep faster! 

Enable Smart Home Capabilities

Control Lighting & Temperature

Alexa helps make smart home tech visible to guests. Tech investments that may have otherwise gone unnoticed are showcased with voice control. Adding a voice assistant device provides a futuristic sort of interaction model with smart home components. As noted above, through the ‘Home Cards’ feature of the Virtual Concierge, (text and images that are displayed on the screen of Echo Show devices) you can let guests know about special things they can do with voice commands. In this case, control smart home tech with their voice.

Make the Entertainment System Trouble-free with Voice Commands

One of the things we have heard as a recurring theme from property managers is the time they spend on helping guests through frustrations with all the remote controls and required sequencing in order to use the entertainment system. There are two solutions to this problem that the Virtual Concierge can provide:

  • Integration between Alexa and the Logitech Harmony Hub can make this process as simple as a guest saying, “Alexa, turn on the TV” or, “watch a movie”. Logitech has traditionally promoted the Harmony Hub as being able to be controlled by your smartphone. That is great for traditional household use when the app is linked to your equipment, but of course guests won’t have that same access. With voice however, all the magic is available to anyone in the VR. 
  • If you don’t want to invest in additional smart home tech like the Harmony Hub, you can simply create a video that explains to guests how to get TV and movies going. Then, guests can say “Alexa, the TV isn’t working”, and in response they can get troubleshooting tips with your video walkthrough.


In-property AI through specially equipped Alexa devices can add value in a number of ways and earn a place in your vacation rental property. Many of the capabilities described above will have a direct impact to your guest experience. Some also add value to you, the host, such as reducing the customer support problems associated with complex entertainment systems, or making it easy to communicate with a group of guests. The pace of development for AI based platforms is staggering, and new functionality is being added constantly. If you haven’t yet taken the opportunity to leverage AI for your business, now may be a great time to consider it.