In Travelport Digital’s Mobile Travel Trends 2019, one of our top trends looks at conversational UI—namely, voice assistants and chatbots. Of course, conversational interfaces are nothing new; Siri will celebrate its eighth anniversary this year and we were talking about the rise of bots two years ago, after Facebook launched chatbot capabilities in its Messenger platform.
In fact, it’s as far back as science fiction movies in the 1960s when we were first exposed to the concept of human-computer interaction (“Open the pod bay doors, HAL”). So what’s different about 2019, and why are we still talking about conversational UIs as an emerging trend?
With advancements in AI and Natural Language Processing (NLP), technology has now advanced to the point where conversational UIs are becoming smarter and more intuitive for users. They’re offering human-like assistance and, in some instances, they are becoming the preferred way for users to interact with brands.
This doesn’t mean that conversational UI will displace Graphical User Interfaces (GUI)—voice will not replace screens any time soon. It does however mean that brands can no longer afford to ignore the rising popularity of these platforms, which offer immense potential to augment the customer experience. Brands need to focus on designing the best mobile user experience possible, and this means incorporating conversational UI across various touchpoints.
Here, we’ll look at how travel brands are using conversational interfaces like chatbots and voice assistants to provide a better service to customers and to drive revenue. We’ll also look at the design considerations travel brands should take into account to ensure they’re creating the best user experience possible and delivering automated conversations that are genuinely useful to customers.
While on the one hand advancements in technology has enabled the creation of more intuitive and user-friendly platforms, Glenville Morris, Product Director of Digital Insights at Travelport Digital uncovers another important element, and that is our evolution into a new human species: the ‘Phono sapien’.
As ‘Phono sapiens’, we’ve all become mobile dependent and with that, our expectations of brands have become much more demanding. We’re no longer willing to pinch and zoom on various websites to find the information we’re looking for. We’re impatient and drop off a webpage if it takes longer than five seconds to load. We expect real-time, on-demand access to information that’s personalized to our needs.
Ultimately, we’re using mobile to make our day-to-day lives easier and this is especially true when we’re traveling. While packing a suitcase, we may wish to use our voice to check what the weather’s like in our destination. When walking through a busy airport, it’s easier for us to send a text on WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger to check our flight status or gate number than squint at a screen display.
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