Dazzle is an in-room personal assistant designed to replace the telephone and guest directory in hotel rooms globally. This is Lola Tech’s first product to market and within 3 months of inception has won competitions and is installed and available to guests in a Central London Marriott Hotel. Dazzle has been a 70-day roller coaster to date, we’d like to draw breath and tell you the story so far.
On the last day in September Cheyne Cole and Charlie Cadbury were having a beer in the late autumn sun talking about the future of Lola Tech, our positioning regarding Voice, messaging, bots and AI and what kind of products we could build. We’d been playing with Amazon’s Alexa platform since the spring and with our friends at Neon Tribe had built a couple of working demos, a voice-enabled booking path for an airline client and a demo ahead of our voice event in association with Visit London. It struck us that the best environment to win with a voice-enabled device would be a hotel room. We’d recently heard from our partners at Travel Tech Lab regarding a Marriott accelerator program looking for products just like this. Conversation quickly built out an early idea of an in-room concierge that could automatically help guests out with local information and for requests the system could not answer automatically, would forward to the hotel.
We formed a small project team, attended some briefing workshops on the Marriott testBED accelerator program and simultaneously put together our submission to the accelerator and build the product out. Long story short, we were shocked and delighted when we were selected out of 150 applicants as one of 8 companies to deliver a ‘Dragons Den’ style pitch mid-October, Cheyne flew over from his home in Las Vegas to add his weight to the pitch. The pitch went well and a week later we discovered we’d won one of 2 places, with Jambo, on the accelerator program, starting mid-November.
Cheyne flew back to Vegas and back again for the ‘boot camp’ where we received training on the Marriott Brand, where it has come from and where it’s going, TED pitch training, inspiration from Shingy and some strategy sessions to map out how Marriott could help us best test Dazzle. We were then told we’d be given the London Marriott Hotel County Hall to install and test, which was brilliant news as it’s an iconic building next to the London Eye, overlooking the Thames and Big Ben.
We then met with and got some great support from the hotel’s GM and operations team, started to ingest the history and FAQ’s of the hotel, organised a series of workshops for the staff and guests to make sure we were going to deliver a useful product that solves as many pains as possible for both guests and hotel staff. We took all that on board, pulled some more help into a creaking project team and marched on.
70-days from the initial concept discussion we now have Amazon Echo Dot devices in 10 rooms at the Marriott County Hall, complete with a full set of trained staff, user collateral and working product. The feedback started to trickle in yesterday and we’re delighted with the curiosity, reactions and engagement thus far. We have several meetings lined up for 2017 with other Hotel chains and a rapidly maturing product. We are enjoying the ride and would love to share our journey with you. Follow Dazzle on LinkedIn or get in touch if you’d like us to show you a demo and share our learning of designing this VUI (Voice user interface).