Half of Travelers Globally are Using Voice Search says Travelport

Travelport is a travel commerce platform providing distribution, technology, payment, and other solutions for the travel and tourism industry. In August 2018, the company surveyed over 16,000 travelers from 25 countries to understand how technology is shaping the travel experience. Results from that survey were put into the 2018 Global Digital Traveler Research Report. Their findings related to voice assistant use include:

  • Half of the travelers surveyed used voice search for some part of their trip.
  • That is a 3% increase from last year’s survey (47%)
  • In China and Turkey, over 70% of travelers use voice search.
  • In Japan and some parts of Europe, the proportion of travelers using voice search has decreased from 2017 and is now less than 40%.
  • In India, 69% of survey respondents say they have used voice to search while researching a trip

Photo Credit: Travelport 2018 Global Digital Traveler Research Report

The report did not survey what device or which voice assistant was used to conduct voice searches. It is also important to note that respondents were limited to those who had taken at least one return flight in the past year and that the sample size for each country was not proportional to total population. For instance, India only had 1000 survey respondents for its 1.339 billion population while Turkey had 500 for a total population of 79.81 million.

Voice Search for Travel Industry is Growing Overall, India Leads Adoption

India leads in adoption of voice search while traveling, with 69% of survey respondents saying they have used voice search while researching a trip. This statistic could also reflect that India leads in digital usage overall, which Travelport defines as “the most digitally dependent” among the nations surveyed. Mark Meehan, MD APACMEA attributes this lead in ‘digital savvy travelers’ for two years in a row to the young population:

India has grown around the smartphone and it’s no surprise to see Indian travelers remain the most digitally engaged in our survey. India, Indonesia, and Nigeria all have large, young populations of ‘digital natives,’ which helps these countries score in the top five places.

The younger generations have grown up with smartphones being omnipresent. Now that voice search is more easily accessed on smartphones, it makes sense that these consumers who have grown up relying on their smartphones would feel the most comfortable talking to and using a voice assistant. It could also indicate that voice search will grow faster as children who have grown up talking to Alexa and Google Assistant in the home become smartphone owners. They will be more comfortable using voice to search, travel advice included.

The travel industry is taking notice. Take the development of voice applications like Virtual Concierge Service, which provides personalized answers to voice search queries about vacation rentals or the partnership between Marriott and Amazon to include an Echo Dot in hotel rooms. There were many examples in 2018 indicative of the growth. Then there is Alibaba, which has partnered with Marriott to include the Tmall Genie in 100,000 Marriott hotel rooms. InterContinental Hotels Group and Baidu have partnered as well, including Baidu Smart Displays in 100 suites. Amazon has dedicated a entire program for the use of voice while traveling through their development of Alexa for Hospitality. Mike Croucher, Chief Architect of Travelport, believes 50% of respondents using voice search is only the beginning:

The world around us is changing fast, and new technologies are having an impact on every part of our lives. With voice search already being used in half of trip bookings, my team is excited about what’s coming next.

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