Alexa, How Did Red Roof Inn Happen Upon The Idea Of Marketing By Voice?

On Day Two of our virtual Search & Performance Insider Summit on Tuesday, we heard from Kevin Scholl, director of marketing technology at Red Roof Inn. Scholl walked us through the brand's journey in voice-activated marketing.

A couple of years ago, when voice became a thing, the hospitality industry was leaning toward putting Alexa or Siri in hotel rooms for guests to use. But would that work? What about privacy? Would guests be comfortable?

Then one evening, Scholl was at a dinner where two guests heatedly discussed a topic. One guest reached into her purse to get her phone to Google the answer while the host, who was arguing with her, simply asked Alexa, who gave the correct answer.

"It was instant recognition," he said, "that we don't have to use our phones." So he began to wonder -- why try to put voice in hotel rooms when one could use it as a "unique channel of opportunity? It made sense for us to stop trying to figure out the problem and recognize that we didn't have to worry about any infrastructure -- we could develop [an Alexa] Skill."

Scholl programmed it himself, taking the top FAQ from the brand's website. "I was taking data we already had and building those into the Skill, launching it in the Skill store." The largest lift was not in building the Skill but in educating the customer base that Red Roof had the Skill.

After months of promoting it, the brand had 14,000 engaged listeners a month.

Scholl also built in gaming, installing an interactive role-playing game for use in the car, with trivia, missions, and quizzes. "The ultimate goal is to be able to book," he said, so Red Roof hopes that by interacting with it as a brand, they stay engaged and book.

At the end of his presentation, Scholl showed attendees how it works, asking Alexa about Red Roof's pet policy.

Alexa gave her answer, including a joke. She is programmed to give a few different answers, some with jokes, to give her a personality.

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