Market Spotlight: Travel and Hospitality

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What else can speech analytics do for people in the travel and hospitality industry? “Data might show that someone lives in this suburb or makes X amount of money,” says Stephan, but speech analytics can help you understand if he’s more price sensitive than his neighbors. He adds, “Maybe you can then retarget them for less premium brands.”

Automating the Booking Process

Chatbots are also helping transform some booking experiences. As you might imagine, big hotels get calls from people around the world—many of whom may not speak the same language as the person picking up the phone at the hotel or in its call center. Chatbots can help by talking to potential customers in their native language—improving the customer experience and, therefore, outcomes.

A case study from Interactions says its client, Hyatt, saved $4.4 million with a conversational reservation application. The Interactions Virtual Assistant automates portions of incoming calls, including collection of guest information, before transferring callers to a reservation agent to discuss room availability and rates. The agent can focus their attention on upselling the customer. The system then transfers callers back to the Virtual Assistant for reservation confirmation and a post-call survey. Additionally, the assistant can automate the entirety of frequent and routine calls—as well as the process of collecting guest feedback at checkout.

Hurdles Still to Clear

If you’re working in a call center in any industry, including travel and hospitality, there’s a good chance that voice technology is part of your daily routine—and has been for a while. The tedious parts of your jobs are being automated, freeing you up to do more important work that nets the company more money. But there are other parts of the travel industry where there are still hurdles to clear.

Companies like Amazon, Google, and Apple are, no doubt, frothing at the mouth to get more hoteliers to put their devices to use on a massive scale. So why isn’t there a smart speaker in every hotel room you stay in? 

Well, for one thing, privacy issues must be dealt with. Who owns the data generated by hotel guests using their in-room devices? How much latitude does the hotel have to use that data? Those are questions that haven’t quite been answered. Frankly, many of the privacy questions around digital assistants—whether it’s Siri on your phone, or Alexa in your house—haven’t been addressed and continue to be a major problem for many potential consumers. Sharing that digital assistant with countless other hotel guests adds layers of complexity that will take some time to unwind.

Another issue is one that voice recognition systems often struggle with across the board: accents. Until virtual assistants get better at dealing with international clientele—many of which will have accents, or may speak a different language—fully automating in-room services through voice activation will be trying, to say the least. 

Of course, none of these hurdles are insurmountable. Speech technology is only getting hotter as the days go by, and no industry can afford to be left behind, especially one like travel and hospitality, where the amenities you offer can make all the difference in booking guests—or not. 

Theresa Cramer is the editor of
Speech Technology magazine. She can be reached at theresa.cramer@infotoday.com.

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