As the battle for the most helpful voice assistant persists, Google continues to enhance its Google Assistant product. This month at CES, Google announced a bevy of new interactions users can have with Assistant, including the ability to book a hotel room using voice commands.
Voice assistants really carved out a place in our digital world in 2011 with the launch of the iPhone 4S and with it, the world’s introduction to Siri. Functionality in the early years was limited but continued to grow, as did the competition from the likes of Amazon’s Alexa in 2014 and Google’s Assistant in 2016. Since then, it has been a race between these artificial intelligence platforms to gain the most functionality and become the most helpful assistant to the user. Hence, it’s no surprise that we see the ability to book a hotel room come to Google Assistant.
Currently, users can access Assistant through a variety of channels such as Google Home products, mobile devices, smart TVs, and even cars. It is important to note though that Assistant has different capabilities depending on the environment it is being run in. To use this topic as an example, booking a room through Google can only be done through the Assistant on mobile devices for the time being.
While other assistants have travel features, Google Assistant is uniquely equipped to handle these requests compared to its competitors. This is the result of Google’s existing hotel booking offerings, something neither Apple nor Amazon currently has at their disposal.
Booking a room with Google Assistant is a fairly straightforward process albeit limited at launch. In order to utilize this new product, you must be based in the US and using an Android or iOS mobile device. If a user meets all of these criteria, they can begin booking a room by either voice or text through the Assistant using natural language input, without the need for specific phrasing. For instance, if a user needs a hotel room in Dallas for tonight they can simply tell the assistant “I need to book a hotel room for tonight in Dallas” and Assistant will bring them a list of recommendations.
If none of the hotels meet the user’s needs, they can provide follow-up criteria through voice or text, such as “only show me hotels with pools” or “something close to downtown”. The ability to filter results is a critical feature for Assistant to successfully book rooms for users.
Once the user sees a hotel that they are interested in, they can let Assistant know by clicking on the desired property or by saying the name of the hotel. Assistant will then provide a list of booking options from the supplier or various OTAs. It is important to note that at launch, the service will be limited to a select group of hotel brands such as AccorHotels and Choice Hotels, as well as OTAs including Priceline and Expedia.
Once a price is selected, the user will be directed to the payment page where they can pay and confirm their booking. Currently, the only payment method is through Google Pay which can be set up through the Assistant app itself with most major credit cards.
At launch, the utilization of booking on the Assistant is likely to be minimal compared to bookings on desktop or other mobile methods. With that in mind, it is important for marketers to recognize voice assistants as a platform that is growing extremely fast and a trend that will likely continue. As Assistant continues to gain more features and spread to more devices, booking methods like this could become increasingly more common. It will be interesting to see what the future holds for these assistants, and voice technology is something marketers should definitely keep an eye on.