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2017 and All That…

December 21, 2017

We look back and reflect on this busy year in travel...

Well, it’s been quite the year for travel; there’s been controversial travel bans, horrific natural disasters, life changing terror attacks in popular destinations and very poor customer service (plus a bungled PR response) from a certain airline. However, despite the apparent doom and gloom there have been some exciting advances for the industry, especially on the technology side of things. Now, we may be biased here at Lola Tech but we’re in no doubt that 2017 has been the year of the voice and there is so much more to come in the next 12 months. It’s set to be an exciting time for conversational interfaces and their role in the industry.

To Chat or Not to Chat

News from Google back in May revealed that 20% of their mobile searches are now carried out in voice and this is only set to grow with the proliferation of smart devices globally. Another set of recent stats from Vator reported that in 2017, 35.6 million Americans are expected to use a voice-activated virtual assistant device at least once a month, up 128% from last year. According to eMarketer, Amazon are set to control around 70% of the voice-controlled speaker marketplace this year (they’ve already surpassed 10 million units), and with their recent foray into the workplace in their creation of Amazon for Business, this is not set to diminish any time soon.

However, it’s not just voice that has been hitting the headlines this year. The Mobile Messaging Report revealed that 45% of consumers would prefer to use some sort of messaging application to contact a business over email (or the phone for that matter). In the last year the use of social networking and messaging apps has grown by 44% (compared to 11% overall app usage).

Raising the Roof

So why are conversational interfaces having so much traction?  For travel brands, the incorporation of a conversational strategy can be a major boost to customer engagement.  Recent use cases with some of our clients are proving such interfaces are providing key ways to make travel more frictionless and more personalised.  In a competitive industry environment like this, getting ahead of the curve is imperative.

Here are a couple of the travel sectors that are blowing the competition out of the water:

Airlines

Back in September 2017 14% of airlines were already using an AI powered chatbot with this figure set to rise to 68% by 2020, according to SITA.  There has been a rapid increase in airlines developing Alexa skills.  KLM and Korean Airways are just two of the front runners using voice-activated digital assistants to provide on-the-go travel information and bag packing assistance.

OTAs

The emergence of chatbot technology has enabled OTAs to decrease booking times and streamline the post-purchase experience for when travellers need to get updates on delays and cancellations.  Booking.com and Hotel Tonight have already rolled out their assistants to numerous cities around the world.

As you can see there is a lot of change afoot in the travel industry. The latest report from Juniper Research says that 55% of US households will have voice enabled smart speakers by 2022, meaning the demand for conversational interfaces will only increase. Here at Lola Tech we’re looking forward to sharing our expertise with the travel industry in 2018, so please get in touch if you have any questions!

About the Author

Sophie Farrow is marketing and events lead at Lola Tech. Lola Tech is a pioneering airline software business leading the field in travel tech innovation. Supporter of Dazzle, a voice activated personal assistant for the travel industry.