5 Ways Smart Speakers Can Revolutionize Travel
Traveling in the 21st Century
Smart speakers can revolutionize how we find and book travel, and how we engage with our travel industry hosts. The global travel and tourism industry witnessed a tremendous growth rate of 3.9%, contributing to a record of $8.8 trillion in revenue in 2019. Even with this growth, there are ways travel, tourism, and hospitality businesses can differentiate themselves from their competitors. Intelligent automation, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and voice technology are all leading the way.
Voice powered technologies are already disrupting prevailing markets. From worldwide smart speaker adoption (47.3 million in the United States alone) to impressive use cases of Google Assistant dialing a call to schedule hairdresser appointments, voice technologies are driving innovation. Smart speakers can revolutionize travel and tourism by leveraging the personal nature of these conversational exchanges. This allows tourism and hospitality companies to offer more exclusive experiences and executive-level services to more people.
Smart speakers for Tourism & Hospitality
Hotels, airlines, tourist companies, car rental companies and other players in the travel industry prioritize personalized customer experience as one of the single most efficient and effective competitive differentiators. The companies that deliver in this area create customer loyalty and positive reputations for themselves.
For the tourism and hotel businesses, voice innovation builds endless opportunities from enabling their staff communications to enhancing their guest stay experience.
Voice assistants in hotel rooms enable guests to check weather conditions or nearby restaurant recommendations. At the Wynn Hotel, Las Vegas, Alexa lets the guest control lights, temperature, drapery and television through voice commands.
Influence of voice technology in the travel industry
Let’s examine the various use-cases of smart speakers used in the travel and hospitality industry.
Smart speakers allow the guest to control the various aspects of the room (IoT devices) through a simple voice command.
One of the best-known examples of this is Alexa for Hospitality, an Amazon service that is already being used by Marriott Hotels. Marriott’s interactive voice response technology for Hospitality is highly personalized towards the guest’s tastes and preferences. Smart speakers assist hotel guests by directing general questions to a virtual concierge, allowing them to request services such as housekeeping, room service, and even fresh towels.
A voicebot is a kind of chatbot. With voicebot, various processes that traditionally require human involvement are being automated. This could be of enormous benefit to organizations of all types within the tourism industry.
A voicebot could be used by hotels, travel agencies and airlines to provide 24*7 customer service by providing fully automated booking processes. The biggest advantage of this is customer experience, especially response time, where the customers can receive instant answers for their queries related to travel.
The London Heathrow airport launched a new skill that gives customers the ability to ask about real-time flight status information, departures, and arrivals. Users can search for flights, check schedules, and get updates on flight status. Knowing if flights are delayed or canceled before reaching the airport allows travelers the opportunity to adjust their schedules accordingly.
Air Canada has already launched an Alexa skill that does many of these core features. An example enhancement to their a core service would be, “Alexa, ask Air Canada for a restaurant recommendation in Montreal”. This could tie to Air Canada’s well-established best restaurants list, and enable Air Canada to give users a reason to use their service even when not booking or managing flights. This “value add” helps strengthen brand awareness and loyalty.
Google has implemented an interpreter mode for its smart speakers, leveraging their experience with Google Translate. Here’s how it works: When a guest says,” Hey Google, be my Spanish interpreter.” Google Assistant starts working in the background. After the user says the sentence in English that needs to be translated, the smart speaker translates and recites the sentence in Spanish. The translated text is displayed on the screen if the device has a display. This tool is available to translate 27 different languages. The real-time translation helps travelers to navigate for directions, order food in the local language, and assist in restaurant recommendations. Their fundamental focus is to make a product that can understand everything a user says and help in interpreting, easing a traveler’s difficulties in countries where language can present a barrier otherwise.
Travel sites such as Expedia, Priceline, and Kayak have built their businesses by offering fast, low-cost air travel, car, and hotel booking services. Travelers still need to log into and search for travel deals, which is a time-consuming process. A virtual smart speaker concierge service shortens the process to a single conversation, and the user can be assured they got the best deal at that moment no matter if the trip is short notice or comfortably in the future. A first time user could ask “I need to travel to Cincinnati in two weeks, can you find me a deal?” The virtual concierge can then narrow down details with a conversational interface, getting details such as date arriving and leaving, preferred travel times, the visit location, and whether they need a rental car. The virtual concierge could then assemble and suggest a few combinations of flights, hotels near their destination, and rental car options, giving the traveler the option to buy the combination on the spot. Seasoned travelers could have many of these details stored as profile data in the virtual concierge, allowing them to simply ask “I need to be in Minneapolis Wednesday and Thursday of next week.” The virtual concierge can take it from there, booking flights using profile preferences for the airline, rental car, and hotel – while also using loyalty program information for each. The traveler would receive an itinerary in his inbox with all needed details – a real timesaver for regular businesspeople but delivered at an executive service level.
Smart Speakers Can Revolutionize Travel Experiences
Google stated almost 70% of requests to the Google Assistant are articulated using natural language, not the common keywords which mostly people search while typing. People talk to voice assistants in the same, organic way as they would talk to other people. Those who adapt to voice search for their businesses will be the first to claim that special conversation with customers and nurture relationships. Travelers are looking for more personalization and smart speakers are the instruments leading us to a two-way communication, where voice-enabled assistants will soon be your travel companion.