#Global trends in travel & tourism – Voice recognition and its potential impact for the travel industry

Being able to talk to technological devices has always been a dream. Especially since watching Captain Kirk interacting with his computer in real-time in the movie Star Trek. Reality shows that we are closer to that dream than ever.

With the rise of products like Apple’s Siri, Google’s Home, Amazon’s Echo and Microsoft´ s Cortana, the trend of voice recognition evolved. It became one of the most discussed topics during the last years. And it also became a global trend in travel and tourism. Voice recognition makes it possible for humans to interact with computers through a voice recognition software. One of its biggest advantages is the possibility to use voice as an input tool. This makes the use of a keyboard, mouse or touchscreen superfluous and enables hands- and eyes-free interactions.

The busy life of a travel agent

Being a travel agent is not always as glamorous as it sounds. In reality, a normal day of a travel agent is never comparable to another. Picking up the phone while having to complete the booking for the former client, when the door rings because the elderly couple forgot that they had their appointment two hours later. This is just a normal day-to-day situation an travel agent has to face. The traditional way of doing business in a travel agency has changed in many ways as technology continues to advance. But still there is a lot of potential for improvement.

The potential impact of voice recognition in the travel industry

Today, speech technology is mainly used in call centres while other businesses rarely make use of it. Integrating improved voice recognition into the travel agency business would have potential to improve the whole customer lifecycle experience. By being able to react to requests more individually and with improved functionality, high value interactions will be possible.

High quality and multi-lingual interactions with voice recognition

Imagine an agent using voice recognition to overcome language barriers in form of different languages, accents and dialects. Travel agents will be able to interact with diverse and multi-cultural customers without being restricted to one particular target group. Especially in the travel industry, the multilingual capability of voice recognition has the biggest potential (Newmind, 2017). According to Nielsen (2015), multicultural consumers are the foundation of today´ s successful marketing strategies. Therefore, it is important to be able to understand various cultural backgrounds and provide customer service in different languages. By ensuring better communication through voice recognition in the travel business (e.g. Hotels) , there is a huge potential for more people to turn into travellers. Even the ones that refused to travel in the past due to language barriers (Hostelworld, 2017).

Getting the online marketing right with voice recognition

Struggling to accomplish two or more tasks simultaneously will be a problem of the past when using voice recognition. While the software is listening to keywords and records all important information in the background, the travel agent itself can focus on the most important aspect and serve its clients on a higher level. Long quest for the right keywords in order to implement the right SEO strategy will not be necessary anymore.
The way customer relationship management has been done will also be improved through voice recognition. By analysing the in-call and post-call behavior, the customer service quality and its shortcomings will be detected and fixed. This will in turn contribute to an overall customer satisfaction (Sabre).

Driving digital transformation with voice recognition

Travel agencies will need to be able to adapt, be data driven and digitally risk aware to make a difference in the future. The key is not to consume more technology, but to enable the travel agents to accomplish more with technology (Accenture, 2016). Speaking is natural for us as humans. When it comes to speaking, we are almost four times faster than when we are writing (Stanford Study, 2016). Adding voice to the human-computer interaction makes the whole process more interactive and instinctive. From the psychological perspective it will add an advantage. There will not be any need to teach the employee´ s on how to speak. The fact that it makes processes more convenient will also have a positive impact on the satisfaction of the travel agents at the work place. By controlling the voice recognition device via wireless headsets, location-independent human-computer interactions will be improved. 

Where does that lead us?

The dream of talking to computers just as we do it to humans is probably not too far away anymore. The trend of voice recognition is evolving in a fast pace and it is very likely that voice recognition will replace the touchscreen trend (Stonetemple, 2017). The time is now to realize what kind of potential it bears to include voice recognition in your travel business to take advantage of that trend!