It started as a bit fun, seeing what Siri could answer on the mobile phone. It then grew into a serious form of interaction when it entered living rooms as Alexa & Google Home.
But will travellers ever rely on or trust intelligent voice-controlled technology to book their holidays?
It seems unlikely that a little box could ever replace the personalisation and human-interaction of a traditional Travel Agent, however, experts won’t rule it out as a future possibility.
During a discussion on digital influence and airline distribution at the recent CAPA Australia Pacific Summit in Sydney, Amadeus’ South Pacific Regional Director Airlines, Sunil Joseph, said that today’s travel consumers are still very visual beings, which is an element voice technology is currently working on.
He said Amazon recently built an image feature into its hands-free speaker that delivers pictures with responses, and it’s this kind of technology that “will be far more effective in the industry” but not necessarily replace Agents.
“I think for travel you need visuals, a little bit of touch, some feeling and voice.”
Sunil Joseph, Amadeus South Pacific Regional Director Airlines
“A combination of voice and visual, that’ll be the first point… but it’s got some time.”
HRG Worldwide’s Managing Director, David Lorimer, concurred, saying that although artificial intelligence is here, it doesn’t necessarily have the requirements to book travel, particularly complicated itineraries.
“I think it’s yet to be proven in sophisticated travel bookings,” he said.
“I’d hate to speak to a computer today for a multi-sector, multi-carrier round-the-world itinerary in a premium cabin and in the economy cabin.”
David continued, saying that the technology is maturing, and it’s something the industry “has to have a very open mind to”.
In the meantime, he recommended getting in touch with the existing ‘voice’ over at HRG – a qualified travel consultant.
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Why do you think voice technology such as Alexa could NEVER take over Travel Agents?
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