Whether you’re running an Airbnb, having someone watch your house while you’re gone, or just having guests over for the weekend, here’s how you can make use of Alexa to help your guests feel more at home.
Take Advantage of Alexa Skill Blueprints
While its capabilities are still a bit limited, Alexa Skill Blueprints provide a way for anyone to create their own Alexa Skill of sorts, using a handful of provided templates. There’s even a template specifically for hosting guests at your home.
If you don’t know about Alexa Skill Blueprints, we have a guide that takes you through the process and teaches you the ropes. From there, the world is your oyster.
As for the “Houseguest” template, you can provide all sorts of information for guests, like where things are in the house, how to do something, and provide phone numbers for certain contacts in case there’s a major problem.
Make it Easy to Control Smarthome Devices
If your house is equipped with all sorts of smarthome gadgetry that you control with Alexa, you’ll want to make sure that your guests understand how to use it, and the best way to accomplish that is by making it easy to control in the first place.
When you add smarthome devices to Alexa, make sure the devices are named properly. For example, if you add a smart plug to Alexa, it’s probably named something like “Smart Plug” by default. This means that in order to control it with Alexa, you have to say “Alexa, turn on the Smart Plug”.
However, you probably want the ability to say something more natural, like “Alexa, turn on the space heater” (or whatever the smart plug is controlling). Because of that, make sure you go into the Alexa app and rename the smart plug to “space heater” or whatever else you want, and do this for each smarthome device.
Make Sure Guests Only Get Limited Access
Unfortunately, there’s no specific setting on Echo devices where you can enable restricted access and prevent guests from doing certain things with Alexa, but there are at least some other things you can do to limit access and make sure they can only do things that they have access to.
For starters, add a voice purchasing PIN so that guests can’t use Alexa to buy stuff on Amazon using your credit card. Otherwise, they could say “Alexa, buy a Samsung smart TV” and you’d have a new TV at your doorstep in a few days, as well as a new charge on your credit statement.
You can also make sure that you have Drop-In, calling, and messaging disabled, which will prevent guests from using your Echo to call or message any of your contacts.
Finally, just like with voice purchasing, disable any skills that use your credit card. Skills like Uber and Dominos are great, but you don’t really need your guests to have access to those—unless of course you want them to be able to easily order a ride or a pizza and don’t mind footing the bill.
Overall, if the guests are friends or family that you trust, you probably don’t have anything to worry about, but if you’re renting your place out on Airbnb, it might be best to audit the skills and services that you have connected to Alexa so that not just anyone can access your calendar and such.
Strategically Place Your Echo Devices
I make this sound like some kind of science, but what it comes down to is just making sure that you have Echo devices in areas where it makes the most sense for your guests, like in the guest bedroom—it doesn’t make sense for your guests to rely on Alexa if they can’t conveniently use it in the first place.
You can also place them in the kitchen, living rooms, and anywhere else that your guests might use Alexa. Of course, it’s not realistic for just any Alexa-using household to have multiple Echos sprawled out across the house, but even just a few Echo Dots here and there won’t break the bank.
Overall, it’ll make it a lot easier for your guests to use Alexa, and once I started to use Alexa more and more, it simply made sense to have more than just one Echo in my house.