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Thursday, 25 May 2017 10:18

In a voice-led world: Okay, Google, how are you changing the travel industry?

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The multi-dimensional travel buying journey is gaining yet another route to market as we increasingly turn to voice search when planning, purchasing, preparing and enjoying travel.

NB: This is an analysis by Kevin Mullaney, head of digital at Flagship Consulting.

Considering that 60% of travel searches are carried out on mobiles, it was only a matter of time before users started ditching text in favour of talk.

 

comScore predicts that by 2020 the majority of searches will be voice activated, which isn’t too far-fetched – considering the fact that 60% of users have only used voice for the first time in the past year, accounting for about 10% of the online population.

google voice 1

google voice 2

Even when asking longer form, natural language queries such as:What are the best

“What are the best four star hotels near Vale de Lobo in the Algarve?”Google can still provide a useful range of results based on the known relationships between hotels [business type],

 

Google can still provide a useful range of results based on the known relationships between hotels [business type], four star [business attribute], Vale de Lobo [town] and the Algarve [region]:

google voice 3

Google can also deliver highly accurate answers for queries around places to eat and things to do, by feeding from the structured data it has in its maps platform.

So any travel businesses looking to attract guests will want to focus on their local presence in Google My Business, Bing Maps and Apple Connect, as well as other key directories like Yell and Thompson Local which share their business data with a variety of other local data sources (such as satnavs).

Beyond claiming and fully populating business profiles on key directories, all travel businesses need to implement schema markup on their websites in order to tell search engines the key business information that will help it deliver answers.

Things like address, availability, pricing, events, business category and any other attributes customers might be searching for.

2. Unstructured Content – give the people what they want

The real challenge facing search engines is they are only confident in returning accurate results for things they have been asked many times before, adjusting the results based on what users historically click on and find most useful.

 

15% of daily searches, however, are still completely new to the algorithm; and this trend is only set to increase as longer form, more personalised voice searches become the norm.

For example, if Google is asked to find the same Algarve hotels as before but with slightly different search criteria (e.g. “with a swimming pool”) or it is asked to plan a more complicated multi-leg trip to smaller regional airports, it will defer to Expedia or Skyscanner search pages.

This is because it has encountered new search parameters it doesn’t recognise (i.e. things that aren’t currently supported by schema markup).

And where search engines fall short, travel brands can step in to provide value, creating lots of informational micro-content which fill in Google’s gaps in knowledge.The types of content travel brands might want to explore would be:

The types of content travel brands might want to explore would be:

  • FAQs: individual pages which directly answer very specific conversational questions. “When is the best time of year to visit Hong Kong”, or, “What is the exchange rate between the Yen and the Dollar.”
  • How-to guides: short, number labelled step-by-step instructions to common problems. “How do I apply for a visa for Vietnam from London?”
  • Destination guides: providing top picks and tips for specific situations and locations. “Top things to do in Malmo when it’s raining.”
  • Planning: helping travellers fine the right parts of the world to visit. “What are the best beach holiday destinations in November?”

By creating this targeted long-tail content, travel brands are able to corner off local markets and take home all the spoils from a single search.

 

Unlike regular results; Google only returns, and reads out, the top answer or result which is a small ‘snippet’ of travel content.

So in return for providing the right answer, Google will be giving a robotic shout out to brands and will link to them exclusively.

To do this, travel brands need to listen to customers and catalogue all the questions people are asking when they call, speak with a customer services representative or a travel agent.

Sourcing these questions directly from customers, in their own words, will help inform the voice search strategy and enable businesses to surface for more voice searches.

Following this strategy won’t just help travel brands secure their voice search future but also help reach more customers no matter the device or input method, as answers become more common on desktop and mobile search too.

Although this answer based approach will attract relatively few searches individually, they all add up to an aggregated pool of interested and informed travellers.

This exposure should last in perpetuity, making a real difference in the long term and boosting a brand’s overall share of search.

Source: This article was published tnooz.com

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