What's next in voice for 2019

Juniper Research expects there to be 275m voice assistant devices used to control smart homes by 2023 (Image metamorworks / iStockPhoto)
Voice technology has been adopted faster than nearly any other technology in history, according to a new report from Angie Hospitality. Photo credit: metamorworks/iStockPhoto

Angie Hospitality, the creator of the interactive guestroom assistant Angie, just released a detailed report offering a glimpse into 2019’s key trends in hospitality technology. "The State of Voice" includes what users can expect from the technology, what guests seek out of platforms and how hoteliers can make the most out of their investment.

Voice technology has been adopted faster than nearly any other technology in history, according to the report. Home voice technology adoption has risen: 53 percent of U.S. adults actively used a voice assistant each month in 2018 (up from 43 percent in 2017) and 57.8 million adults use smart speakers. The number of households with smart speakers in the U.S. has increased 78 percent in the past year.

According to Globalwebindex, just under half of online adults are using voice technology in some way—whether that’s through voice assistants on smartphones or smart home assistants. Those in the Asia Pacific region are the most engaged with voice technology, with more than 1 in 2 using voice search tools in some capacity. European users lag behind the other regions as the least enthusiastic, but, tellingly, they’re also the least likely to say that owning the latest technology is important to them. From a market-by-market perspective, Globalwebindex sees that voice search growth is being driven by the key Asian markets, with India, China and Indonesia coming out on top.

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Though guests care about keeping their personal data secure, many are willing to share if it means a more personalized experience. The Angie report states that 57 percent of U.S. travelers want brands to use their data to personalize their travel recommendations and experiences. Additionally, 36 percent of these people would be willing to pay more for such a personalized experience.

According to the report, 84 percent of business travelers think that a personalized guest experience is important and that 90 percent of travelers want to receive personalized service from hotel staff that understand their preferences. 

Voice solutions can augment personalization by allowing guests to customize their room's features with their voice and have their preferences remembered for future stays. Voice assistants also can recognize loyalty status and offer personalized recommendations based on guest tastes. Most importantly, when guests are used to having the world at their fingertips, data-driven personalized experiences are necessary for guest satisfaction in 2019.

Operational Efficiencies

Approximately 59 percent of hoteliers think voice assistants can play a valuable role in increasing property revenues, the Angie survey revealed, and 43 percent think voice could play a significant role in reducing labor costs and streamlining operations. The good news is that voice technology can increase property revenues and streamline labor costs: voice offers a means of guest-to-hotel communication because guests can receive information and initiate service requests in an instant.

Voice assistants offer both more human-like interactions with technology and free staff to provide high-touch interactions in a way only humans can. This is key, Angie reports, especially when 65 percent of hotel guests think more personal service from hotel staff is appealing. As voice and artificial intelligence capabilities become increasingly conversational and empathetic, guest exchanges with machines are becoming more natural.

2019 will see key voice technologies like natural language processing continue to improve and reach a new level of nuance and advancement, according to Angie. But the existence of better voice technology isn't the only reason to invest in it.

More than 60 percent of guests think it is "very or extremely important" for hotels to continue investing in technology to enhance the guest experience, 49 percent of guests say their hotel selection is influenced by high-tech features in the guestroom, 41 percent of guests say it is important that they can engage with new and exciting features in hotels they are loyal to, and last but not least, investing in technology reportedly increases in-room sales revenue by 20 percent. Surveyed guests reported that they were interested in hotel voice technology because of ease of use, familiarity and convenience.

Voice technologies are rapidly improving, and because they are cloud-based, they can continue to be improved upon every day, the report states. 

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