The State of Voice in the Airline Industry

A deep-dive report

Steff Preyer

Business Director

Last Updated : 04/10/19

Page contents

 

Introduction to voice in the airline industry

By 2022, 55% of households are expected to own a smart speaker. The mass adoption of voice assistants like Amazon Alexa and the Google Assistant means consumers are changing behaviours and forming new habits, and the airline industry will need to adapt to this shift. In fact, in a survey conducted by Adweek, they found that 48% of consumers had used voice assistants to check flight status and/or buy a plane ticket.

Although many airline brands have already created voice apps – including KLM, Ryanair and easyJet – there is a lot more potential to use voice technology to support the customer at every stage of the research and purchase journey.


 Key challenges for the airline industry:

  • Reduction in service levels: Long call wait times, increasing cost of add-ons, etc.
  • Lack of differentiation and brand loyalty: With decreasing service levels, consumers are choosing flights based on cost and ease of use
  • Climate change: Increasing focus on lower carbon emissions and flight-shaming

How to optimise your website for voice

The first step in your voice optimisation strategy should be checking how your website performs for informational queries, e.g. “holidays to Mexico”, “flights to Italy”, etc.

 


 

Voice Search Performance

The Google Assistant has recently become far better at answering queries about travel, with its ability to answer improving from 66% to 88% between Q1 and Q2 2019.

This is mainly due to the Google Assistant returning more answers from standard Answer Box results, as well as Google’s own Knowledge Graph (e.g. for the query “travel to Spain”, the Google Assistant responds with a Knowledge Graph snippet about Spain as a destination).

 


 

Actions & Skills

Actions (on the Google Assistant) and skills (on Alexa) are voice-enabled apps which extend the built-in functionality of these voice assistants. While optimising your website for voice can provide a one-way snippet of information, actions and skills can allow brands to create two-way conversations with their consumers and can help them to perform tasks and activities.

Use case ideas

Use case idea 1: Customer support

A skill/action could be used to answer common customer queries and route them through to the call centre for more complex questions, to save people having to wait in line for simple requests. e.g. “what can I put in my hand baggage”, “do I need a visa”, “how do I change a name on a ticket”, etc.

Use case idea 2: Empowering travellers with smart self-service

Get updates on flight status, check into flights via voice and get boarding pass sent to you via email, find out about the specifications of your aircraft, check your membership points balance, etc. Potential to address carbon concerns by allowing consumers to filter flights based on their carbon emissions.

Use case idea 3: Research and book:

Research and book: Search for flights by destination, dates and/or price, book and pay via your voice. Account linking required.

Amazon / Google 1st party

Google Flights: You can search for upcoming flights, get prices and track your flight status via the Google Assistant on mobile or smart speaker. On mobile only, using the Google Assistant you can also check into your flight and save your boarding pass with United Airlines, with the aim to expand this feature to other airlines soon. However, you can’t currently book flights on Google via voice only.


 

Existing Alexa Skills & Google Actions

A number of brands have already created voice apps in the space. Several different approaches have been used including vertical level content (The Bar) while others at an individual brand level (Talisker Tasting Experience).

Overall more brands have released on the Alexa platform over the Google Assistant.  No brands have launched on both platforms with the same execution.

 

Kayak

Check prices on flights, hotels & rental cars, track real-time flight status and plan your travel according to your budget (also available on Google)

Ryanair

Check flights status, routes and price information, and research accommodation through an availability finder

KLM

Get travel inspiration to help you pick your next holiday destination, as well as ticket prices, flight duration, and budget (also available on Google)

EasyJet

Get the latest arrival and departure information for your flight

British Airways Entertainment


Find out what’s available to watch on board before you fly

Air New Zealand


Check flight status and Airpoints balance

Qantas


Check flight status and Qantas Points balance, and get an update on your membership status

Korean Air


Get flight status for any Korean Air flight by flight number or by route

American Airlines

In-flight entertainment guide – use Alexa to search for the movies and TV shows which will be available on your flight

Virgin Australia

Check in to your flight via your voice, and find out your flight status, flight details and points balance

Heathrow

Find the latest updates for flights passing through London Heathrow Airport

Gatwick Airport

Get the latest updates for flights departing or arriving at London Gatwick Airport

Flight Centre

Find cheap flight deals and ask a Travel Expert to get in touch with you to finalise the details

Singapore Airlines

Check your flight status and deal with customer service queries such as seat allocation, baggage, meals & flying with children

United

Research flights, check flight status, mileage balance and aeroplane amenities, purchase priority boarding pass during check-in

 

Other:

easyJet: Reportedly the first airline to integrate voice search into its mobile app, allowing travellers to find flights by saying their dates, destination and airports of choice. Announced in September 2019.

 

Policy Restrictions

None

 

Main Takeaways

  • At a website level, airline companies need to focus on filling content gaps by gaining Answer Box results.
  • When it comes to creating two-way conversations through actions & skills, we’re rapidly moving towards a world where customers will expect every airline to have their own action and/or skill at the very least to enable them to check their flight status and check in online
  • In the near future, customers will also expect to be able to research and book flights via their voice. By the time this comes around, the early adopters will have months or years of learnings under their belts and will be able to gain market share ahead of their competitors.

 


 

Want to learn more? Get in contact with the Rabbit & Pork team about voice strategy, workshops or building a voice app

 

 

Get in contact

Steff Preyer

Business Director

Previously an Account Director at ROAST, Steff joined Rabbit & Pork to help brands understand the potential for Voice Search and defines use cases to drive maximum impact for awareness, retention and revenue.
Rabbit & Pork

+44 (0)20 8102 8500

[email protected]

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