Voice-recognition technologies are disrupting existing markets. From widespread smart speaker adoption (47.3 million U.S. adults own a voice-activated smart speaker) to impressive new use cases (Google’s demo at I/O 2018 of its assistant making a phone call to book a hairdresser appointment), voice technologies have reached a tipping point in terms of innovation. Whether these innovations take the form of customer experience improvements or business process optimization, the possibilities for voice are endless and not yet fully understood.
In this series, we will look at voice-enabled applications that lead their industries today and look ahead to potential future applications in the financial services, travel and hospitality, and retail sectors. This article will examine voice technology applications in the travel and hospitality industry.
Applications of Voice-Recognition Technology in Travel and Hospitality
The travel and hospitality industry has been rapidly changing thanks to the new technological innovations. As customers grow accustomed to living in an increasingly digital environment, companies must adapt to make sure customers have a seamless and comfortable experience during their travels. With the mass adoption of smart assistants, like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, innovations in voice technology are becoming more critical to this customer journey. Here are some of the ways the industry has been making advancements in voice technology.
Current Applications of Voice in Travel and Hospitality
In January, London Heathrow Airport announced the launch of a new Amazon Alexa skill. Working in partnership with The Voyage team, Amazon has developed a new skill that will give customers the ability to ask about live flight status information, gate updates, and details on arrivals and departures—all from the comfort of their own home. The skill draws on Heathrow’s own flight data hub and is accessible 24 hours a day. Google has their version of flight management that utilizes the Google Assistant. Users can search for flights, check flight schedules, and get updates on their flight status.
Why It Matters
Traveling can be a stressful time for consumers and checking your flight status can be time-consuming. Knowing if flights are canceled or delayed before reaching the airport will give travelers the ability to adjust their schedules accordingly and alleviate some of the headaches that come with plane travel.
Travel Booking Assistance
Through Kayak’s new Alexa skill, customers can check the price of flights, rental cars, and hotels on Kayak’s site with ease, although the skill doesn’t currently allow customers to book travel. Their competitor, Expedia, recently released a new skill that will enable users who have booked a trip through the website to check on their flight and hotels status as well as rent a car for the duration of their stay.
Why it Matters
Consumers are often looking for the best deals, but it can be time-consuming to cross-check current prices across multiple aspects of travel. Receiving a curated verbal response is faster than having to read and compare various prices online, giving users an improved means of booking travel.
Marriott is currently testing the integration of Alexa smart speakers in several of their hotels. The new skill, named Alexa for Hospitality, can connect to smart devices in the guest room, including lights and thermostats, giving customers a more personalized stay. Customers will be able to order room service, set alarms and ask for information about the hotel or their city. Others making advancements in this space include Roxy (a startup targeting the hotel industry with customizable, brand-centric smart speakers) and IGH hotels.
Why It Matters
Consumers are becoming more accustomed to having smart speakers, and all of their convenience, as part of their daily lives. Smart speakers in hotels will make the transition from home to hotel room more comfortable overall. Automating functions like ordering room service and general inquiries will free up hotel staff to focus on other tasks and improve operational efficiency.
Emerging Applications of Voice in Travel and Hospitality
Google, Apple, and Amazon are currently racing to the first virtual assistant-based booking system. Though the technology is still in the early phases of development, the completion will significantly transform the travel industry. Customers will be able to make, edit, and cancel reservations for hotels, car rentals, and flights through their home assistant’s fully automated voice mimic capabilities.
Why It Matters
Coordinating plans and reservations can be tricky for travelers. Having a central location that can book it for you would ease that burden of arranging trips.
Google has recently shipped its Pixel Buds, earphones that offer travelers on-the-go, real-time translation capabilities. The technology is still new and requires a consumer to be fully integrated into the Google ecosystem. The Pixel line of phones are used in conjunction with the earbuds to translate conversations to both participants. As of now, it is still a green technology, as one person must speak into the phone and wait for the translation and the other must speak into the earbuds, but once the technology is fully fleshed out, traveling in foreign countries will become a much more comfortable experience.
Why It Matters
Language barriers can make it hard, and even discourage, travelers from visiting other countries. Real-time translation could help travelers navigate or ask for directions, order food, and feel more immersed in the culture of the country they’re visiting. These features would ultimately make traveling to foreign countries easier and potentially increase tourism worldwide.
Robotic Hotel Assistants
With the creation of Henn-na, Japan’s first robot-run hotel, the hospitality industry has seen robot assistants become increasingly popular. From Shanghai to Las Vegas, hotels are investing in robots that provide information about the surrounding area, deliver requested items and room service, take out the trash, and answer guests’ questions all in their preferred languages.
Why It Matters
Hotel staff has a lot to juggle with the number of customers that come through each day. A robot on staff will handle some of the simpler tasks, so the human’s employees can focus on critical customer interactions and increasing the overall efficiency of the hotel.
Credera Experience With Voice Technology
Interested in learning more about how to implement cutting-edge voice applications for your business? Credera has professionals dedicated to Internet of Things (IoT) application development, including experience building voice applications and smart home integrations for industry-leading companies. Our service offerings within IoT include strategy development and system design and build. Contact Credera if you would like to learn more.