“Everything in the future is going to be voice,” Laszlo Horvath, CEO of Active Media, a Silicon Valley guru and popular speaker at NAJ events, told delegates to last week’s RTO Summit East in New York City. Not only that, he added, soon “thirty percent of web browsing will be without a screen.” And because hands-free requests and commands are so easy for the mobile user, searches will grow even more.
This means, Horvath said, that the new role of DMOs will be that of “storytellers” able to convey information, as answers, in ways that suit the person who needs concise answers quickly.
While Horvath’s observations about voice searching were just a part of a presentation on how DMOs can create should season SEO co-op programs for their international and domestic marketing, it seemed to lock in the interest of delegates who showed up for the Summit, held at Manhattan’s Wyndham New York Hotel.
It is not that the data have not been available. A year ago, Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, in remarks introducing Google’s Google Home—a competitor of the Amazon Echo—said that 20 percent of queries on its mobile app and on Android devices are voice searches. At about the same time, Hitwise came out with a report showing that more than half of internet searches for travel (not including map sites) were conducting using a mobile device.
By 2020, Horvath said, 50 percent of searches will be by voice. While Horvath was addressing the RTO Summit in Manhattan, Ben Sauer, strategist at the digital design firm Clearleft, had just finished telling some 500 attendees, mostly British travel agents, at the Advantage 2017 conference near Cannes, France why consumers are plugging into voice searching in greater numbers. “People are more self-service these days,” Sauer said, according to a Travel Weekly account, adding, “Voice can help with that. You can book a short-haul, last-minute holiday through voice and it will probably help you.”
Voice recognition technology is intelligent enough to save customers’ favorites using masses of data, but may fail to present them with sufficient choice and new ideas, said Sauer, explaining that it can inspire customers of travel agents to explore new destinations, but is long way from having the common sense to complete complex bookings. In a poll of the mostly travel-agent crowd at the Advantage conference, 73 percent said they had used voice recognition.