Voice search within the travel industry is one of the emerging trends that marketers, business owners and other senior figures within businesses in this area need to become aware of. In this article, you will find information about voice search technology, a list of the key benefits, and some tips for adopting an effective voice search strategy.

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What is Voice Search?

Voice search, sometimes referred to as voice-controlled search or voice-enabled search, is a process where a user is able to conduct a search of the world wide web, a specific website, or an application through the use of voice commands. It is often associated with virtual assistants, but this is not always the case.

Essentially, the voice commands given by the user replace the text inputs associated with more traditional searches. It makes use of voice recognition technology, which understands human speech and converts it into a search query. This can be especially useful on devices where typing is not possible, or for people who find it difficult to type.

Today, voice search in travel can be used on a wide range of devices, including smartphones, computers, smart speakers, smartwatches and smart TVs. Results may be in text format, or may read aloud, using text-to-speech.

How Do Voice Search and Text Search Differ?

The main way in which voice search and text search differ is through the requirement of different actions from the user. With text search, a user is generally required to type their search query into a search box and then press ‘Enter‘ or click on a ‘Search‘ button, whereas voice search allows the search query to be spoken instead.

This voice-controlled approach can offer advantages. Voice search for travel customers is generally quicker than typing and can be carried out while performing other activities, offering convenience. However, depending on the device used, there may be fewer options for actually exploring the search results and at times the voice recognition may make errors.

What is the Relationship Between Voice Search and Virtual Assistants?

The concept of voice search and the emergence of virtual assistants has led to situations where the two terms are sometimes used interchangeably, but in reality, they describe different things. Voice search refers to any technology that allows users to carry out a search using voice commands to enter their question, query or search string.

While virtual assistants usually offer voice search, they also offer a range of additional features too. For instance, many virtual assistants are able to sync information to calendars and they can perform additional tasks besides searches. The range of features available varies depending on both the virtual assistant and the device being used.

Both virtual assistants and voice search are relevant to the travel and tourism industry, however.

Why Companies in The Tourism & Travel Industry Should Embrace Voice Search

The biggest reason why businesses in the travel and tourism industry need to embrace voice search is that travel customers already have. Smart devices offering virtual assistants like Alexa, Siri and Google Assistant have been widely adopted, while the Digital Marketing Institute estimates 30 percent of all browsing is now screenless.

The investment from major companies like Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Apple in voice recognition technology and voice search capabilities has helped to improve the results massively. In fact, the aforementioned Digital Marketing Institute article also highlights the fact that Google has improved its voice recognition accuracy to above 90 percent.

This has had a knock-on effect when it comes to consumer behaviour, with more people utilising the technology as it has become more dependable. In fact, DBS Interactive claims 41 percent of adults now use voice search at least once per day and in total, more than half of all smartphone users engage with voice search technology to some degree.

This means voice search in travel and tourism is here to stay. The companies that fail to embrace the technology are only limiting their own reach by neglecting a significant demographic of regular voice search users. Today, voice search is regularly used to find and book hotels, flights, meals, package holidays and more.

How Does Voice Search Technology Actually Work?

Voice search makes use of a number of different technologies. The user’s voice command is understood through a technology called automatic voice recognition, and this is able to understand the words being said and convert them to a format that allows a search to be carried out. In some cases, it can even detect a variety of different languages.

In instances where a search result is read out to the user, this is achieved using text-to-speech technology. The search itself is carried out using a search engine, such as Google or Bing. In some cases, users are able to add extra voice commands, in order to narrow results down and this is achieved through artificial intelligence.

What Are The Benefits of Voice Search for Travel Companies?

There are a number of plus points or advantages associated with embracing voice search in the travel industry. In this section, you will be able to find out more about three of the most significant benefits.

1. Enhance the Customer Experience

For those involved with travel management, the customer experience has to be a top priority, because it is the basis upon which many people ultimately make their decisions. Embracing voice search in travel can enhance the customer experience by providing a greater level of convenience for customers making bookings.

Naturally, much of the focus with voice search in travel is on the discovery phase, but many companies could benefit from providing voice search options when customers arrive too. For example, voice search may be used within hotel rooms, through the aid of smart speakers, to allow customers to find important information about the local area.

2. Generate More Website Hits

Another big incentive for travel companies placing a greater focus on voice search is the ability to boost website traffic. The reality is that some users now predominantly use voice search, especially if they are in the habit of turning to virtual assistants on their smartphones or smart speakers.

Optimising web content with voice search in mind can be one of the only ways to reach out and attract these people to your website, or get them to engage with your booking engine, so it is important to make an effort to do so.

3. Stay Ahead of Competitors

The other major reason why you should adopt a voice search strategy in the travel industry right now is that some other businesses have been slow on the uptake. This means you have the opportunity to gain a significant competitive advantage over rival hotels, airlines, restaurants and more.

This is especially true if you are able to come up with innovative ways to capitalise on the technology, such as allowing customers to make use of voice search while they are on your premises.

Advice for The Tourism & Travel Industry to Improve Voice Search Strategies

Once you accept the fact that voice search is one of the emerging travel trends, it is sensible to take the right steps to create an effective voice search strategy. Here, you can find four tips.

Optimise Content for Local Search

A significant amount of voice search activity is carried out by people who are physically present in the local area, wanting to know more about a nearby business. With this in mind, you need to optimise your online content for local search. This means referring to your physical location on your website, making sure business directories are up-to-date and standardised across all platforms, and providing a contact phone number.

Think About Your Specific Customers

It is important that your voice search strategy is not too general and is instead focused on your own specific customers. Give some thought to what they are likely to search for and optimise your content with these ideas in mind. You want to rank highly for search terms that are relevant to your business, as there is no real benefit in ranking highly for search engine users who have an intent that is not related to your business or what you have to sell.

Consider How Voice Search is Used

Next, you need to think about how voice search is actually used and, in particular, how it differs from text searches. One example is the fact that voice search users tend to either ask questions or make quite detailed requests, whereas text search users may enter a few keywords in a less structured way. This use of longer voice search strings also provides you with an opportunity to research some longer keyword phrases to focus your SEO efforts on.

Optimise With Search Engines in Mind

Finally, while voice search in the travel industry is still emerging as a trend, it is vital that you understand that it is still reliant on search engine technology. With this in mind, your content still needs to be optimised for Google and Bing. Use keywords, provide additional information through Schema markup and structure content in ways that search engines can easily read, such as through the use of headings, sub-headings and bullet points.

Voice Search in Action Within the Tourism & Travel Industry

When it comes to adopting new travel trends, it can sometimes be useful to see them in action. Below, you will find two videos demonstrating precisely how voice search can be used by travellers.

Book Your Holiday with Voice Search

A good example of voice search in action within the travel industry is seen in this video, focused on the Expedia skill for Amazon Alexa. This provides a voice-activated means of managing your upcoming travel and booking holidays.

Video: Expedia Skill for Amazon Alexa

 

Find & Book a Hotel with Voice Search

The video below demonstrates how a traveller might use voice search to find a hotel online. The user is able to specify the features the hotel should have and is then presented with a list of options and the ability to make a booking.

Video: Hotel Search on Smartphone with Voice

 

Voice Search and Other Trends in the Travel & Tourism Industry

While voice search is an important trend within travel, there are a number of additional travel and tourism trends you need to be aware of and stay on top of too. These include virtual reality, the use of robotics, the deployment of AI chatbots, facial recognition technology and much more besides.

Read “Key Technology Trends Emerging in the Travel & Tourism Industry” for a more in-depth look at the major technology trends, along with information on how they can benefit your travel or tourism business.

Voice Search and Other Travel Marketing Trends

Marketing is one of the single biggest reasons to adopt a voice search strategy, but there are a number of additional travel marketing trends that you should make sure you are familiar with. Examples of this range from personalisation marketing and customer experience marketing, through to virtual reality marketing and content marketing.

Check out “Travel Marketing: The Latest Travel Marketing Tips to Optimise Your Results” to find out more about these major trends and to learn about how they can assist you with your own marketing efforts.

Voice search within the travel and tourism industry has become an essential area of focus for businesses, because customer behaviour is changing and more people are embracing the technology. For this reason, it is critical that businesses in the industry optimise content and adapt their SEO strategy with voice search in mind.

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Revfine.com is a knowledge platform for the hospitality & travel industry. Professionals use our insights, strategies and actionable tips to get inspired, to optimise revenue, innovate processes and improve customer experience. You can find all travel industry tips in the categories Marketing & Distribution and Technology & Software.