Volara Adds Room Service to Google Nest Hubs at New York City Corporate Hotel
Voice tech developer Volara is bringing its customized Google Nest Hubs to the Synergy Chelsea hotel in New York City and adding the option to order food for delivery to their room. The new feature adds a new facet to Volara’s hospitality-focused services on Google and Amazon smart speakers and smart displays and expands the company’s reach to corporate hotels where guests traveling for more than a few days on business.
Volara augments the Google Nest Hub smart speaker with its own software, including voice commands for the room’s environmental and entertainment devices. The AI can also offer recommendations for activities and trips locally. The room service feature broadens those services to include ordering food. Guests can peruse a menu of items on their smartphone by scanning a QR code on the Nest Hub and pick out what they would like to eat. The food is prepared and delivered by Volara’s new partner Butler Hospitality, a startup that provides similar services to several hotels and their guests in New York. Butler makes the food at one of its five Manhattan kitchens, and it is brought directly to the guest’s door by one of the company’s uniformed “butlers” while the hotel gets a 10% cut of the bill.
“Synergy is redefining the traditional furnished apartment experience in New York by integrating leading technology solutions with our best-in-class serviced accommodations,” Synergy general manager Rob Eisenberg said in a statement. “Guest of Synergy Chelsea not only enjoy high-speed wireless Internet, IPTV, and a Bluetooth audio system, they enjoy the convenience of the Volara-powered Google voice assistant to personalize their living experience better. Volara’s partnership with Butler Hospitality takes that tailored service — one that feels like home — one step further by offering in-room voice-directed restaurant delivery service featuring upscale Manhattan cuisine at a fair price. We’re excited to provide our guests with the added ease and hospitality of high quality, fresh food, cooked on demand delivered to their front door.”
Volara is planning to extend the new arrangement with both Synergy and Butler by adding its Google Nest Hubs to more Synergy hotels and integrating Butler’s services into hotels that already use Volara’s platform and customized devices.
“Unlike other virtual roomservice programs that connect guests to local restaurants, Roomservice by Butler is a vertically integrated program that brings food that we cook ourselves in hotel kitchens that we operate exclusively for Butler patrons,” Butler chief revenue officer Aaron Cohen said in a statement. “Vetted and brand-clad butlers personally deliver orders to customers in their hotel rooms or corporate apartments rather than making them go down to the lobby.”
Smart devices in hotel rooms can help personalize the setting, especially as people become more comfortable with the technology in their own homes. When living there for more than a few nights, it’s a bonus that could tip corporate travelers toward Synergy. The hotels benefit from lower costs as fewer resources are needed to interact with customers via AI than with employees. Volara’s been at the forefront of the trend, most recently when Washington, D.C.’s new Hotel Zena opened in October with a Volara-powered Google Nest Hub in every room. The developer has played a major part in bringing both Alexa and Google Assistant to the hospitality industry. Along with Google, Volara partnered with CIRQ+ to add voice controls to its hotel management platform. The company was the Alexa for Hospitality launch partner and the exclusive holder of the Amazon Alexa for Business Service Delivery Designation for the hospitality industry.
Google announced plans this summer to do its part to integrate Nest Hub smart displays and Google Assistant to hotel rooms with its hospitality benefits program, potentially furthering Volara’s reach. And Amazon is keen to offer Alexa to hotels as well, running a pilot program at Marriott and allowing the Westin Buffalo to become the first hotel to offer to link its smart speakers to guests’ personal Alexa accounts. Volara also faces competition from developers like SoundHound, which is integrating a version of its Houndify platform into JBL smart speakers at hotels worldwide.
Still, the new room service feature will likely help Volara maintain a leading role in the field partly due to how it might help mitigate the risk of COVID-19 infection. Volara’s platform already minimizes the need for in-person interaction at hotels and the corporate short-term housing offered by Synergy. Meanwhile, Butler explicitly designs its services to be trustworthy by letting customers know where the food is being prepared and having a background-checked and screened employee in a uniform much like a hotel with a bellboy would traditionally use.
“Today, through our partnership with Butler Hospitality, we are enabling Synergy Global Housing to further enhance their resident experiences through the revenue generating Roomservice by Butler program — one that is truly pioneering a COVID-safe delivery process for short- and long-term guests,” Volara CEO David Berger said in a statement.