Skift Take

Voice-powered travel search, circa 2016, is still very much a beta test. But don't laugh: The day when travelers can book a flight or hotel using only their voice isn't far off.

This week, we’re talking about voice search.

As more travelers shift their travel search and purchasing habits from desktops to mobile devices (and even wearables), ever-tinier keyboards are becoming a less and less useful interface. Instead, more technology companies, from Apple to Amazon to Google, are encouraging users to interact with devices via other means like voice.

Although the performance of voice tools is frequently awkward at best, they’re starting to get way better, as evidenced by the success of Amazon’s Echo device and the impending launch of a Google competitor. In fact, online travel player Kayak is now testing a voice-powered travel searching interface for the Amazon Echo. Is it a PR stunt? A sign of things to come? Read on for more analysis of this week’s top marketing stories.

Travel voice search: online travel booking’s next frontier?
User interface (or UI in industry-speak) design is a big deal for online travel companies. A tiny change in the online booking process can impact millions of dollars in revenue. With the news this week that metasearch heavyweight Kayak has launched a new voice search feature on Amazon’s increasingly-popular Echo device, the topic of UI is about to get even more interesting. Although Echo users can’t yet book reservations from the interface, the potential is there for voice-powered purchases in the future. Read more

Hilton Adds Google Maps View Into Their In-App Booking Process
Location, location, location. It’s one of the most important criteria for hotel guests when booking a room, and increasingly a feature hotel marketers are looking to promote within their mobile apps as well. The latest example is Hilton, which recently integrated Google Maps technology into its mobile app, allowing potential guests to visualize where hotel rooms are located in relation to nearby landmarks like city streets, public transit and parks. Read more

Las Vegas Revamps Gambling to Lure Millennial Travelers
Traveler spending in Las Vegas has been on a tear in recent months. In fact, plenty of millennial travelers are flocking to Sin City to enjoy its multitude of high-end restaurants and marquee nightclubs. But despite the bump in Vegas spending, there’s one activity millennials aren’t doing enough of: gambling. In an effort to try and encourage more millennials to gamble, a new generation of gaming devices like skill-based slot machines and video game-style gambling is coming to the Strip. Read more

US Hotels Struggle to Gain Attention with International Travelers
The domestic travel market is so huge that it’s sometimes easy for marketers to forget the opportunity presented by courting high-spending travelers from abroad. In fact, according to recent research, US hotels are virtually non-existent in international search engine results, suggesting a key opportunity for hotel marketers to boost their visibility outside their home market. Read more

Will technology innovations make lost luggage a thing of the past?
Lost luggage remains a frustrating occurrence for travelers and the airline industry alike, with a recent report noting that more than 23 million bags were mishandled in 2015 alone. But with a growing range of consumer-facing and airport-based luggage solutions coming onto the market, many are hopeful that the problem can be drastically reduced. New tools like GPS-enabled luggage and new RFID-enabled baggage stickers at airports are just some of the innovations now coming online. Read more

Hotel Owners Ramp Efforts to Improve Energy Efficiency
Energy efficiency has long been a taboo topic for many in the hotel industry, with owners voicing concerns that curtailing guests’ usage of lights or air conditioning might lead to customer dissatisfaction. However, a growing sense of environmental awareness among guests, coupled with a marketing urge by hotels to appear more green friendly, is contributing to a variety new energy-saving hotel initiatives, including smart thermostats and key card-controlled lighting systems. Read more


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Photo credit: Kayak's new voice-powered interface for Amazon's Echo device lets travelers track and search for flights. Kayak

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