Hi-Tech Entertainment Options You Didn't Know Were Available at Your Hotel

Hotels are ramping up their efforts with more options of high tech entertainment in order to attract savvy travelers who are seeking options by utilizing their smartphones or speaking to a chatbot via texting.

While most travelers their own mobile devices and laptops when they travel for business or even for a three-day weekend, the InterContinental San Francisco doubles down on big screen TVs, which still remain popular with travelers. All of the rooms contain 60-inch smart TVs and the living room area features two 65-inch TVs.

If personalizing your music list is a priority, Marriott (MAR) launched a chatbot called ChatBotlr at its Aloft Hotels where travelers can text to request services, information about the hotel or listen to the Live at Aloft playlist. Even when they are off sightseeing or at business meetings, people can still connect with the chatbot via text message. Other Marriott chatbots for their rewards program is also available through Facebook (FB) Messenger and Slack currently and in the future, We-Chat and Google (GOOG) Assistant will also be an option.

The chatbot utilitizes natural language understanding and machine learning, so as the ChatBotlr speaks more with travelers, it learns what they need.

"By embracing emerging messaging technologies, we can expand service to our guests on their terms," said Stephanie Linnartz, global chief commercial officer of Marriott International. "The delivery of on demand service enables Marriott to simplify travel."

Botlr was launched in 2014 as a pilot program where front desk employees could respond faster to what guests were asking for, especially minor requests. At the hotels that offered this option, data demonstrated that two-thirds of people responded or interacted with Botlr.

While a robot bringing you a tube of toothpaste or slippers may not be the entertainment you are seeking, some of the Aloft hotels also feature Botlr, a robotic butler. The butler has been roaming the hallways since 2014 and can bring guests items they want faster than waiting on a hotel employee.

When information is more vital than entertainment, the Kimpton Alexis Hotel in Seattle gives travelers the option to ask Alexa, Amazon's (AMZN) virtual personal assistant, questions instead of waiting in line to speak with the concierge or the front desk. By simply saying the following four words, "Alexa, ask the Alexis...," consumers can not only ask questions, but also fulfill their requests such as requesting items be sent to their room via Alexa.

Kimpton said they worked with Volara, a New York-based software company, so that Alexa could answer questions specifically about the hotel and offer recommendations similar to the concierge.

Hotel VIA in San Francisco provides a seven-inch personal tablet which offers entertainment and access to other services.

"Guests want the same conveniences and access to services as when they are at home with 70% who want to use technology to speed up getting what they want," said Regan Yeldell, a senior director for Comcast Business which is providing the Ethernet. "For hotel operators, this includes everything from check-in systems via self-service kiosks or through guests' own mobile devices to in-room tablets for guests to order room service or control the thermostat. Fast and reliable Wi-Fi throughout the property lets guests watch their own programming, listen to their own music, play their own games, get business done and connect with social networks."

Travelers still want to keep updated on the news and many do not regularly read the newspapers that hotels provide. The Collector Luxury Inn & Gardens in St. Augustine, Fla. offers in-room iPads with PressReader services so that you can read the news from any newspaper rather than going to the store to get a local paper or heading into the lobby to grab a copy.

Other hotels such as Hotel Indigo in New York offer a rotating series of local sculptures and artwork in its networking areas in the lobby which all guests can partake in. The AKA hotels offer Apple (AAPL) TV as an alternative to the typical cable channels.

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