Amazon expands into property management tech with Alexa for Residential

Worldwide: In order to grow its footprint in the property management technology space, Amazon has launched its new Alexa for Residential service, which it believes will make it easier for property managers to set up Alexa-enabled devices to manage in residential buildings such as condos and apartment complexes.

According to TechCrunch, IOTAS, STRATIS and Sentient Property Services are some of the first smart home integrators to use the Alexa for Residential service at the time of the launch.

With Alexa-enabled devices becoming more commonplace in homes and the number of people creating Amazon accounts soaring during the pandemic, the online retailer is aiming to make Alexa a tool for smart home management, regardless of whether you have an Amazon account or not, and thereby provide more value and seamless integration for individual property managers.

Those guests with existing Amazon accounts will be able to connect to the Alexa for Residential devices in their vacation rentals without having to disclose any personal information to the property owner, as well as link it to their Amazon Echo application if they have one, however if they do not already have an account, they will still be able to speak to the device and use its features like normal.

Property managers will have the ability to customise their Alexa devices for each individual unit they manage and make maintenance request or payment processes more efficient for themselves and the guests.

When a guest moves out of the unit, the Alexa for Residential devices can be remotely reset to default settings to ensure maximum trust and transparency.

While this is not the first time that vacation rentals have leveraged Alexa-enabled devices in their properties, it is an extension of Amazon’s offerings in the segment, having previously launched its Alexa for Hospitality service in 2018, which was intended primarily for hotels.

Some of its previous attempts to install smart home technology in apartments have been met by mixed responses from guests, with some raising concerns about their privacy and the condition of such devices when they move in.

Amazon believes that venturing into property management technology now would accelerate tech adoption by property managers and allow the company to assert itself further in the space.

It also cites data from the National Apartment Association, which revealed that 84 per cent of renters want an apartment with smart home amenities included, while 61 per cent said they would pay a monthly fee for a voice assistant.

Customised virtual concierge company Virtual Concierge Service claims to be the first to have brought voice technology to short-term rentals in 2017 and began its partnership with Amazon in 2018, when Alexa for Hospitality was launched.
CEO Dana Young said that significant milestones in its work with Amazon have included guest privacy protection and fleet management of Echo devices for larger property management companies. Virtual Concierge Service will continue to work with Amazon on its new Alexa for Residential offering.
Young was bullish on the program, noting that “the APIs continue to mature, allowing VCS to personalise the voice experience and make PMCs operations even more efficient”.

At the same time, as travellers become more hesitant to spend out more money on their accommodation with unemployment on the rise, Amazon wants its smart home devices, such as Alexa for Residential, to be seen as typical appliances within a rental, rather than as an unnecessary luxury that guests would otherwise have to bring themselves.