Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Voice Search For Hoteliers - Part 1

The technology of voice search has been exploding in popularity and becoming nearly ubiquitous in the homes of consumers everywhere. The devices used by the public to interface with the Internet through voice recognition technology can be found in their homes, Google Home and Amazon’s Alexa for example, or in their mobile devices such as Apple’s Siri or Samsung’s Bixby. Naturally, as these users become more comfortable in the use of this technology, the expectation will grow among traveling consumers to complete their travel arrangements while utilizing voice search.

One aspect of voice search on home assistant devices that has held back use of the technology for making hotel reservations, due the visual nature of travel, has been the lack of a visual screen. However, this could change rapidly in the near term as the technology leaders, Google and Amazon, are beginning to include screens with their devices. Formerly, Google Home and Amazon’s Alexa had been voice interfaces only, limiting their travel application.

This limitation however, has no impact on what is more correctly called dictated search, meaning those performed via mobile devices. Voice searches executed on mobile devices using either Apple Siri, Google Voice Search or Microsoft Cortana bring up web results to the device’s screen, no different than if the search was typed by the user into their search bar. How users will be utilizing home assistant devices for travel search in the near future still remains to be determined as the technology unfolds. However, dictated voice searches made on mobile devices are currently having an impact on hotel bookings, whether hoteliers are prepared to leverage these searches or not.

Going forward, it will increasingly become imperative for hotels to optimize their websites for voice search, as it is the future of travel searches. Numerous research studies support this assertion, including the search giant Google. They have stated that fully 20 percent of all mobile searches are with voice search. Voice search will only become more prevalent each year that passes. Hotels need to prepare now for this reality, or be left behind by the online travel agencies and powerful meta searches including TripAdvisor, Trivago and Kayak.  Meta search companies are already preparing to provide voice search optimization.

In part two of this series we will examine a few steps hotels can take in order to optimize their websites for voice search.

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