New Volara Partnership Lets You Tip Hotel Staff Using In-Room Voice Assistants
Volara has added tipping to its hotel voice assistant platform in a partnership with youtip, a new digital tipping tech startup. Guests at hotels with Volara’s customized Google Nest and Amazon Echo smart speakers and smart displays can leave their gratuity without having to put cash on the bedside table, a convenient and much more hygienic option for tipping, especially during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The arrangement with youtip (no capitalization is deliberate) lets guests at the hotel leave a tip before they leave by scanning a QR code on Volara’s customized Google Nest Hub, where or by just asking Alexa on in those rooms with an Amazon Echo smart speaker. The idea is to make tipping entirely cash-free but also to avoid needing a new app on a smartphone, Instead, it all runs through the hotel’s system.
“When I read about youtip launching a digital tipping solution, I saw an immediate advantage to featuring their QR code for digital tipping on our contactless guest engagement and touchless room controls solutions,” Volara CEO Dave Berger said in a statement. “We firmly believe that today’s frontline hotel workers — who are putting themselves at risk every day during this pandemic — should have every opportunity to safely receive a gratuity. With fewer people carrying cash, and even less service workers feeling comfortable receiving it, leveraging the in-room voice assistant to leave a tip is a no brainer.”
The potential reach for youtip by working with Volara is rising quickly. 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. Amazon is keen to offer Alexa to hotels, 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. Last month, Volara even expanded to longer-term corporate hotels in New York City.
Volara faces plenty of competition, however. Google started a plan last year to bring Nest Hub smart displays and Google Assistant to hotel rooms, while SoundHound is integrating a version of its Houndify platform into JBL smart speakers at hotels worldwide. Still, tipping faster and without risk of touching notoriously unhygienic cash,should help Volara maintain its momentum while being more hospitable to both guests and staff