Voice search, conversational messaging and artificial intelligence are currently changing the way that travelers interact with brands.
Many consumers already use devices such as Amazon Echo to do a wide range of things, from checking their daily calendar to ordering an Uber or searching for businesses nearby. This increase in voice search will soon enter the realm of the travel industry – so what does this mean for travel brands?
When travelers search for hotels, tour experiences and other travel-related purchases, they are likely to look on Google rather than going directly to the hotel’s website. So, brands in the hospitality industry rely very heavily on search engines for most of their traffic. This means that this industry is very susceptible to new search trends, such as voice search.
Voice Search is Different
Users want to make searches with their voices because it is more convenient and allows for hands-free interaction. The interesting part about this is that when users search with their voices, the way they phrase their queries changes. The searches become longer, more natural and more conversational. We tend to speak to our search devices like they are human, so technology needs to respond to this anthropomorphization.
For example, rather than “cheap flights from New York to Paris” as you might type into a search engine, you might say, “What is the cheapest flight from New York to Paris?” Instead of “Mediterranean deals” you might search, “Who has the best deals on a cruise in the Mediterranean?”
This means that websites in the travel industry need to be able to use this conversational tone and optimise for the longer keywords often used in voice searches. A great way to do this is the create an FAQ page on your website, which phrases questions in a way that users would be likely to ask them.
Voice Search and the Importance of Local Information
Another way that voice search is being used in the travel industry is to connect to local searching. Many users are asking their phones to find attractions, restaurants, and amenities nearby when they are in a certain destination.
When users are searching in this way, they likely will not go to the website of the business, but they will use tools such as Facebook, TripAdvisor, Google Local, and Yelp. This means it is very important to ensure that the information on these third party websites (such as address, opening hours, rates) is as comprehensive and current as possible.
It is also possible to optimise for local searches. It is important to reference your shop, restaurant or attraction in relation to what is nearby. For example, if you mention that your coffee shop in Rome is near the Trevi Fountain, you’ll get found by people who are near the famous landmark and want to take a break from sightseeing for a cup of coffee.
Think about the local places of interest around your company and make sure that you mention them somewhere on your site. Linking your business to these related nearby attractions will really help you to get found.
Voice Search Won’t Replace Human Interaction
Voice search has been a major recent factor in the travel industry, changing the way travelers seek information and make bookings. Voice-powered technology has even been used in some hotels. For example, hotels such as Aloft have been testing voice-activated rooms in which guests can ask Siri to turn off the lights or change the temperature.
However, although voice search can be useful for checking the status of a travel booking or requesting information, it cannot completely replace customer service staff.
However, as of yet, the technology has not evolved to the point where it can replace the human touch. We have a long way to go until voice search can completely simulate natural language conversation.
Just remember, audio and voice are by spread most natural interface for humans to interact. We like to speak and listen. There was roughly 1.5X more audio consumed than video according to Nielsen statistics on streaming in 2016. This is HUGE. If you are a medium is voice, now is your time.
The same goes for Alexa skills. The novelty of being able to use natural language to communicate with your device is going to change the world. Google just released a statistic that one in five queries made by search via voice. If that isn’t an indicator of the rise of audio and voice, I don’t know what is?
Before AR and VR and AI, I’m convinced audio is going to be the next major platform shift for consumer attention. It’s here today! What are you going do?