Guest Post: Impact of Voice on the Travel Industry
Opportunities are huge, says Alessandro Noviello associate director at ForwardPMX
“The journey not the arrival matters”, T.S. Eliot a 20th Century American poet once said. Travellers have always been eagerly consuming all sorts of media content in search of inspiration or useful information about the next place to visit, accommodation, a train to catch, or a local restaurant to visit.
There will always be room for an old-fashioned travel guide in a backpack but, undoubtedly, the proliferation of apps, user-generated content-rich platforms, travel vloggers and Instagram influencers, have made a virtually limitless volume of inspirational and informative content available to everyone on-the-go 24/7.
Yet, while ten years ago the thought of booking a holiday by talking to a Bluetooth speaker seemed like something from a sci-fi movie, Voice Search technology has slowly become a reality with the launch of voice assistant devices and the use of Siri, Alexa and Google Assistant on mobile is starting to revolutionize consumer habits. In fact, according to research, consumers are embracing voice assistants, such as Amazon Echo and Google Home, with 35.8% of millennials using their devices on a regular basis, and according to Gartner, 30% of searches will be done without a screen by 2020.
The increased use of voice assistants is set to have a sizable impact on search in general. According to figures released by Microsoft in 2017, voice searches for hotels and flights in the UK on the Microsoft-owned Bing network increased by 343% and 277% year-on-year respectively. Google Translate now boasts more than 500m users worldwide. Thanks to widespread use of smartphones, Wi-Fi hotspots availability and generous data packages, its usage as a real-time conversation enabling tool as well as the usage for other translation apps when travelling, has become a common habit.
The sharp rise of voice searches paired with the way travel related data is categorized (think flights or train timetables) and consumed makes travel the next industry to be largely affected by this shift in consumer behavior. With individuals already starting to utilize voice search in their everyday lives, it will inevitably allow consumers to research the latest flight times or check the weather for an upcoming holiday with ease.
How will screen-free interactions play a key role in an industry where visual assets inspire users and heavily influence their decision making process?
For travel brands, this presents a challenge as images have always been an essential part of the marketing strategy. Whether it’s a double page spread print ad for the latest package holiday or an influencer-centric Instagram campaign for a luxury getaway resort, there is a huge focus on imagery and this won’t change with the growth of voice search.
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