The Amazon Alexa Fund is making a significant investment in hospitality management platform SevenRooms in order to bring in-service, voice-enabled tech to restaurants for the first time.
SevenRooms offers front-of-house software technology for managing seating, reservations, and loyalty programs for high-end restaurants and hotels across the country, including Virgin Hotels, The Standard Hotel group, and The Cosmopolitan Hotel in Las Vegas. A key selling point for SevenRooms has been using data analytics to not only remember important customer data and preferences, but to plan and predict how to serve them better on the next visit.
With Amazon’s Alexa voice recognition technology, SevenRooms plans to use the Alexa Skills Kit—a developer’s collection of self-service APIs, tools, documentation, and code samples—to program Alexa skills so that restaurant managers can employ voice commands for in-service use, such as looking up diner information about allergies or dietary preferences. SevenRooms offers the example of managers asking Alexa about the guests sitting at table 12, while servers could ask if any guests in the dining room have allergies.
Alexa might be the most popular digital voice assistant program among consumers, slowly becoming omnipresent in living rooms through Amazon’s Echo lineup of smart speakers among many other smart gadgets being developed specifically to support Alexa. But Amazon (AMZN) isn’t resting on its laurels, made evident by the establishment of the Alexa Fund, a $100 million pool of investment cash that will be distributed to companies of all sizes in order to fuel voice technology innovation.
First announced in November 2017 and still very much open to applicants, the Alexa Fund most recently made its first-ever investment in a prefab homebuilder to literally build smart homes from the ground up. And earlier this summer, Amazon announced it was expanding its fellowship program within the Alexa Fund, now working with 18 universities to encourage research for voice recognition technology.