“Voice is booming!”

“Tens of millions” ..the figures quoted by both Amazon and Google when discussing the sale of home voice -activated devices in 2017. Amazon claims to have sold this number of Alexa enabled devices alone over the Christmas and New Year period, whilst the Echo Dot was the top-selling item across all Amazon.com categories.

Over the past few years we have witnessed an escalating interest in the use of voice activation for Business travel, as their frequent use becomes the norm in our everyday lives.

According to Forrester, 38% of enterprises are already using AI, growing to 62% by 2018, with a predicted 300%+ increase in investment in artificial intelligence in 2017.

Traveldoo was one of the first to market with a voice activation for its expense app back in 2015. Since then voice recognition devices have gained more traction in the expense space and then the travel space. Now, Alexa has around 170 travel and transportation functions, which Amazon calls “Skills” and in December launched its Alexa for Business, allowing organizations of all sizes to introduce Alexa to their workplace, to use an intelligent assistant for their business.

Where voice recognition is great for straight forward frequent questions, it does have a very limited scope when trying to organise a complex travel itinerary. “Sorry I did not get that is not acceptable when a customer urgently needs to book or amend a flight or hotel. As an industry we will need to ensure voice recognition is flawless and intuitive, part of a seamless process that is fully integrated with desktop and mobiles so that travellers and travel managers get the answers to the complex questions they need.

We’re not there yet and I believe this is only just the start of this journey.  As consumers of voice recognition, we are too frequently disappointed when we experience a chat interface that is severely limited in its capabilities. Human and system messages need to be merged into one interface to give the customer a frictionless experience so watch this space, there’s definitely more to come.

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