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Voice - Mobile Travel Trends 2018 Blog Series

Welcome to part two of our eight part blog series on Mobile Travel Trends 2018. Our next key trend is voice. People often talk about voice search being something futuristic that may (or may not) take off – the reality is that this is the future, we are now living in a world where voice search is ubiquitous. 

We've already seen significant growth in this area, but this year we believe voice is going to grow bigger than ever and we may see the age of touch soon come to an end.

With 40% of adults now using voice search once a day , it has most certainly earned its place in our list of top trends for 2018. In an increasingly time-sensitive world where we are constantly multi-tasking, it’s easy to understand why there has been such an uptake of a technology that enables us to search faster (we speak 150 words per minute vs type 40) and do so hands-free.

Of the top 20 Cortana flight and accommodation searches in the UK 95% are for brands, illustrating just how significant it is for travel brands to be present on voice enabled devices. And some are finally taking notice; in the past year there has been a surge in airlines and travel brands getting in on the voice action including easyJet, Ryanair, Expedia, Kayak, Tripcase, Skyscanner and Marriott International.

Travelers are becoming a lot more comfortable having conversations with bots and virtual assistants, with 70% of requests to the Google Assistant being expressed in natural language. From getting flight options and departure times to booking a hotel and Uber, nearly all aspects of a trip can now be managed through voice across multiple devices, from smartphones and smartwatches, to home devices and in car infotainment systems.

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This new ecosystem will not only transform how travelers communicate with brands, but how airlines and travel companies engage with their customers too. Outbound notifications from the likes of Google Home, Amazon Echo and HomePod are going to redefine the notifications landscape, moving beyond simple SMS or push message, adding another level of notifications to mobile.

The rise in voice will have an even bigger impact on the lives of ‘the next billion’ mobile users who, thanks to cheap data plans, low-end smartphones and intuitive apps that let them navigate despite poor literacy, are now online for the first time. One of the defining characteristics of these users is their avoidance of text based apps and web services, with a preference for using voice and images to communicate instead. And there are huge opportunities for travel brands to be clever about engaging with these users in a way that best suits them.

Developing markets are certainly driving the next wave of voice powered technology. In the past few years we have witnessed a regional explosion in areas such as India and Africa resulting in a seismic shift in the market. By the end of 2016 North America accounted for 95% of Alexa and Google Assistant users. Fast forward to 2021 and over 47% of voice device users will be in Asia and Oceania. Recent research from Travelport supports this shift, having found that 72% of Chinese travelers use voice search compared to just 33% in the UK.

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The sooner travel brands realize voice search is here to stay and start to go to where their customers are by giving themselves a voice, the better equipped they will be to have a more meaningful conversation with today’s modern traveler.

To find out more about voice and the other key trends that will impact the mobile travel industry in 2018, as well as findings from our research with industry professionals and end travelers, download our Mobile Travel Trends 2018 free report now.

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Aisling White - Head of Marketing

Aisling has over 16 years’ experience in marketing, brand, and PR. Prior to joining Travelport Digital, Aisling worked at Hostelworld.com and Sage Software. At Travelport Digital Aisling manages the marketing strategy, content, communications, and digital platforms, to drive customer engagement.

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