Web Design

Why your hotel needs to start prepping for VUI (Voice User Interfaces) now

It’s likely that all of your focus recently has been dedicated to mobile search engine optimisation. With Google launching a mobile first index, smartphone ownership at record levels and mobile research for travel products such as hotels and flights growing, there’s no denying the important of adopting a mobile first mindset. What you may not know however is that a new trend is taking hold, fuelled by the mobile revolution. Enter voice search.

If you’re not in on the secret yet, voice search is predicted to be the next big evolution in search behaviour and technology. It’s because of the speed with which voice search is gaining a foothold in the market that your hotel should start prepping now for voice user interfaces (VUI). If you don’t consider voice search when user interface designing for hotels you risk getting left behind and shut out of the technology boom.

What is voice search?

While voice search is undoubtedly the one to watch according to marketing experts, Google actually picked up on this phenomenon around five years ago before the term graphical user interface was considered in conjunction with voice-activated technology for hotels. In a report published in 2014, it said that voice search had more than doubled in popularity within a 12 month timeframe. At the time, the users of voice search were mainly teenagers between 13 and 18. Around 41% of adults also admitted to talking to their phones each day.

Voice Recognition

In the years since then, voice search habits have become more widely embraced. 2017 is the year of voice search according to Forbes. The much respected Mary Meeker State of the Internet 2017 report confirmed that voice search now accounts for 20% of all mobile search queries. This year’s report also recapped previous findings which perfectly illustrate the explosion of voice search popularity, with a 35 x growth rate in the period 2018-2016. Between 2015 and 2016, voice search use grew seven fold.

What’s fuelling this growth?

There has been an influx of voice search assistants into the technology market. Devices and assistants such as the Amazon Echo, Google Home, Siri, Cortana and Alexa all enable voice-search in the home, office and workplace.

Consumers are not just becoming more used to being able to get things done by talking to their smartphone or giving a command to a device on their table, they also prefer it in some situations (such as when their hands are occupied or vision is impaired).

The Mary Meeker Report determined that 21% of voice search queries relate to fun entertainment, 30% to general information, 27% use them as a personal assistant and 22% for local information.

How can this knowledge be used to prep for VUI in your hotel?

Some hotel chains are already exploring how they can incorporate voice search and VUIs into their accommodation offering. This is the next frontier of user interface designing for hotels with the convenience we expect from these devices able to enhance the guest experience and streamline hotel operations.

The Marriott County Hall in London recently trialled a VUI called Dazzle. The developers of Dazzle say it takes the friction out of the in-room experience. It’s also worthwhile for the hotel, with a VUI bot able to process requests and free-up front desk phone lines and engagement time. A VUI could lodge an order for extra toiletries or room service and relay to reception, with the front desk saved from having to take a call, make small talk or stop another job to deal with the task.