Expedia talks up its transactional voice first on Google Assistant

Expedia has made voice commerce in travel a reality with the the launch of a new Expedia Action on Google Assistant which allows users to book a hotel using voice.

By linking an Expedia account to Google Assistant, users can search and book for hotels. Expedia claims that this is “the first Google Assistant travel action of its kind where you can not only browse but also book hotels with your voice”.

Other functions which can be voice-enabled via Google Assistant include car reservations, cancelling a hotel reservation, accessing trip itineraries or packing list suggestions and checking the balance on an Expedia Rewards account.

It is available in English for US customers, with other countries and languages coming soon. It is also integrated into Google Home and works with any Google Assistant-enabled device.

Voice platforms and devices “are all the rage” Expedia said. It referenced research from Voicebot.AI which found that nearly one-in-four (19.7%) of the US population –  more than 47 million people – have access to a smart speaker.

As a sign of how quickly voice is growing, two years ago the percentage was less than 1%.

The paper – available as a free download – looks into the US consumer appetite for “voice”. “Booking a hotel” was not a possibility when it looked at how consumers were using voice, but there is a progression to or correlation with booking from some of the examples.

Other findings of interest include the gender bias: “smart speakers users are more likely to be male by a ratio of 58% to 42%.”

Elsewhere, “households with income below the national average are 20.6% more likely to own a Google smart speaker.”

But perhaps the most relevant finding is that more than one-in-four owners have made a purchase using voice, with more than one-in-ten doing so monthly. As with the web, mobile and apps, consumers will become comfortable with voice commerce with small easy purchases before moving to bigger ticket items such as hotels and holidays.

Related reading from tnooz:

Listen up: voice assistants are not quite ready to fly (March 2018)

Voice search and its impact on the travel industry (June 2017)

Former Expedia exec heralds voice as the next big thing (Nov 2016)


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