VoiceXML, the technology that powers speech recognition for phone and web applications, has come a long way from the automated recordings that we hear when we call a customer service line or a reservations agent. With advanced technologies such as Apple’s Siri and Google Voice Search now on the market, voice recognition has become more powerful and more intuitive. So what does this mean for hotels?
Consider the number of devices from which a customer can now book travel: website, mobile, tablet, etc. Instead of creating different user interfaces for each, we can now use CSS3 and HTML5 to create a responsive design that serves all those devices. But with mobile booking projected to account for $40 billion in revenue of U.S. online travel sales by 2015, hotels should begin exploring ways to to adapt reservations systems to users on the go.
By using VoiceXML and speech recognition technology, we can now reach travelers even when they don’t have access to typical devices. For example, online travel agency Priceline recently announced a partnership with Chevrolet to provide hotel booking services for travelers in their car. A completely vehicle-centric booking experience, travelers can find hotels in two ways: either by connecting with a live Priceline agent through the OnStar button in their car, or by downloading a custom Priceline app for their car dashboard.
Dan Odell, head of web development at creative agency AKQA, calls this designing for the user, not the device. Odell envisions a world in which users can interact with all online services through a variety of inputs, whether it’s touchscreens, keystrokes, speech, or gestures — so it may not be long before we start asking Siri to book our hotels for us, or telling our TVs we want to know more about that hotel we saw on the Travel Channel. The technology is here; how we use it is up to us.