Africa Travel Week

What Does Voice Search Mean for the Future of Hotels?

By Social Tables

From the cheapest flights to the best hotels, to the must-see sights at our destination, we are definitely no strangers to typing our vacation queries into Google to find what we’re looking for. But, with the development of digital assistant technologies such as Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Google’s Assistant, more and more people are starting to actually ask for what it is they’re seeking through the use of voice search.

Here’s what we think the role of voice search will play in the future of hotels.

Voice Search Is on the Rise and Will Impact Hotels 3 Ways

Though the adoption of voice search may still be in its infancy, the technology is definitely on the rise. According to recent statistics from Microsoft’s Bing Ads, the number of people using their digital assistant, Cortana, to voice search for hotels has seen a 343% year-on-year increase in the UK alone. Similarly, finding flights by voice search saw a 277% year-on-year increase.

Google also reported that 20% of its mobile queries are now activated through voice, and the overall use of digital assistants and voice search has risen over 40% in the past year.

When discussing the future of the online travel industry at the 2016 Skift Global Forum, Online Travel Agents (OTAs) were acutely aware of the role voice search is certain to play in the not-too-distant future of travel bookings. OTAs agreed that voice search will ultimately redefine how consumers browse and book hotels.

1. Voice search is transforming the booking process

As more people use their smartphones and tablets to research and book their holidays, the integration of search via voice will help to create a much more streamlined interaction.

It’s easy to see how replacing typing with talking would speed up the hotel booking process. Imagine a last-minute booker (while frantically trying to pack their bags for their trip!) could ask your hotel’s website about the rooms you had available, the pricing, and finalize their booking without even having to touch their device. Voice search has the potential to make the user booking experience much easier and much faster.

limited-service hotels front desk

2. Voice search creates a personalized experience

Currently, OTAs are designed to deliver mass results. Sure, this allows consumers to compare lots of hotel options, but scrolling through hundreds of search results can become tedious and overwhelming.

Voice search aspires to break away from this approach by allowing users to refine the search process based on exactly what they’re looking for, such as “A 4-star hotel in East Portland with a balcony, within walking distance to the Hawthorne Bridge, for under $300”. Being able to search by such a specific set of criteria will offer users a more curated and personalized selection of results. This, in turn, should deliver more qualified potential guests to your hotel’s website, and ultimately, increase conversion rates. 

3. Raise your voice (search)

So, how do you prepare your hotel’s website for search with these new technologies? 

The most important thing to note is that the way people search by voice is very different to how they search by text. Voice search sees people asking for answers in a more conversational manner, therefore, you should begin to explore how you can present your on-site elements in a similar way.

Integrating a more conversational style of content on your site will not only help in terms of voice search, but it also gives your hotel’s brand a more ‘human’ and approachable feel. By adopting this approach, guests will feel more comfortable with your brand, and in turn, feel more motivated to make a booking.

Discover 18 Ways Hotels Can Start Preparing for Voice Search Today 

limited-service hotels technology

1. Prioritize casual speech over keywords in your marketing copy. 

Writing website copy with conversational language will be a key tactic for hotels once voice search takes over. Consider how users will ask their voice assistants for help. They’re far more likely to ask a question like, “what are the best five star hotels in Boston?” than they are to turn on Siri and say, “Boston five star hotels”. These tips will help you incorporate targeted keywords while still adhering to this more natural way of speaking and writing. 

2. Make your names and titles beautiful. 

Remember that when voice search users ask a question out loud, their devices will also respond out loud back. Which means that hotels and businesses will need to take this into consideration when they name properties, special offers, new packages, and events. And the more descriptive your names and titles are, the better. Once you do settle on a memorable and lovely name, make sure it’s still available with this tool

3. Choose long tail keywords to improve long term SEO. 

As we’ve already mentioned, voice search users tend to make their requests using full sentences. Which means hotel marketers should start using longer keyword phrases in their marketing now to get an edge of the competition over time. Besides being great for voice search, long tail keywords can actually drive bookings through standard searches too. 

4. Swap out brand voice and tone for customer voice and tone. 

In the same vein as casual language and long tail keywords, hotel marketers will need to start crafting copy that wins over audiences through specific language. The best marketing copy for voice search uses the same slang, industry terminology, and abbreviations as its target demographic.  

5. Create marketing content around broader, general interest topics. 

Niche specific knowledge is fantastic for developing domain authority and becoming an industry leader. But for voice search, hotels will need their content to go wide, not deep. A great way to do this is to focus on tourist attractions or local destinations your hotel guests will frequent. You can also provide plenty of FAQs about the city, your hotel, and general travel topics your audience cares about. 

6. Collaborate with Amazon.

Some hotel brands (like Marriott) are already taking advantage of Amazon’s Alexa for Hospitality program. The program puts an Alexa device in every room and gives it functions that help it act as an in-room concierge. From WiFi to weather to room service orders, Alexa’s hotel specific functions make the lives of your guests easier while boosting your overall voice search strategy. 

7. Monitor your online reputation. 

This means everything from your Yelp reviews to your social media accounts. Hotels that have high levels of engagement, positive phrases, and high ratings online will show up towards the top of voice search results. These online reputation monitoring tools can help you keep tabs on everything from a single dashboard. 

post-event engagement social

8. Clean up your booking site’s page loading speed. 

Page loading speeds are directly linked to user experience, which is proven to help improve Google search results, which directly translates to voice as well. The good news is there are lots of ways to improve your existing website content. Start by compressing and replacing images. Then decrease redirects and test your page load speed with this tool

9. Become a local leader. 

Local SEO will be very important for hotels hoping to improve their voice search rankings. Publish content related to geographically relevant keywords and partner with symbiotic brands that have a foothold in the community. 

10. Use structured data markup to boost your hotel’s restaurant, spa, and event rankings. 

Also known as your webpage’s HTML, structured data markup is what creates the preview rich snippets you see in search engine results. Edit your title or meta description to include your long tail keywords, some locally focused SEO content, and location. Here’s a more advanced guide for further instruction. 

11. Make it your goal to reach the top search result for every relevant inquiry.

Voice search users might not even know your hotel exists but that won’t stop them from discovering it when they look for related terms or questions. The best way to do this is to take advantage of all keywords (long and short) that can include the words “near me” and “local” and still make sense. 

12. Add your properties to Google Business Listing. 

It’s quick and effective for voice search, particularly if your audience plans to use Google Assistant to dictate inquiries. This strategy is best for local businesses which, as we’ve already explained, should be a focus for hotels in the near future. 

13. Begin advertising your distance from famous attractions, tourist hot spots, popular businesses and well trafficked event venues. 

Searches like “hotels near” destination tourism hot spots will be especially helpful for voice search since travelers may be planning trips around certain activities. You can even use this for B2B marketing by including popular event venue names. 

14. Emphasize your most unique amenities. 

For example, potential guests might choose to search for pet-friendly, family fun, or five star restaurants in addition to hotels nearby. Include these features in your marketing content and add them to your SEO keyword strategy while you’re at it. 

15. Double check that all your most important internet properties all match up. 

Voice search favors consistency, especially when it comes to important details like contact information. This includes email addresses, physical addresses, phone numbers, and social media handles. Here’s a quick checklist of places you’ll want to double check provide uniform information about your hotel: 

16. Make sure your booking site is optimized for mobile. 

As of 2018, 20% of all mobile searches on Google are voice searches and there’s reason to believe this number will only continue to increase. Here are some simple tips for optimizing your hotel booking website to win more mobile business now. 

17. Double down on video marketing content. 

Interestingly enough, video will strongly affect voice search results. Just make sure you transcribe them, focus on FAQ content, chunk up longer videos into smaller, more digestable segments. 

18. Get the most out of Google’s Q&A search. 

As we’ve mentioned already, questions and answers will largely drive positive voice search results for hotels. The Google Q&A features allows businesses to ask or answer questions and vote on responses. So use it to improve your voice search performance! 

Now You’re Ready to Optimize & Drive More Traffic from Voice Search!

Now you know all about voice search !!!

Africa Travel Week

Africa Travel Week (ATW) focuses on inbound and outbound markets for general leisure tourism, luxury travel, LGBTQ+ travel and the MICE/business travel sector as well as travel technology. Shows include: ILTM Africa, WTM Africa, EQUAL Africa, ibtm AFRICA, Travel Forward, Sports & Events Tourism Exchange and African Tourism Investment Summit.