Will the rise of intelligent robot assistants impact how people search online?

Intelligent robot assistants were once just the stuff of science fiction, yet thanks to the likes of Siri, Cortana, and Google Home, they’re now commonplace. We’re used to seeing them on our smartphones and now in our homes too with Amazon’s Echo (integrated with its assistant Alexa) most recently being rolled out across the UK.

Exciting stuff, but as with any new technology, travel brands need to firstly understand how this will impact them and then how they can take advantage of it as well as be ready to mitigate any issues that might come as a result.

With so many travel businesses now relying on digital marketing to reach their audiences too, plus the rise and dominance of mobile searches and traffic in general, the key question is whether voice search queries transferred through intelligent robot assistants will encroach on basic keyboard searches? And more worryingly, whether these could in turn lead to reductions in clicks to sites, particularly for knowledge-based queries?

In a nutshell, is voice search technology going to change how travel businesses rely on search marketing as we know it, or will it just add something else to the mix?

What is an intelligent robot assistant?

An intelligent personal assistant is an algorithmic system held on a smartphone or piece of IoT (Internet of Things) hardware. It assists users by understanding voice queries and can output tasks such as finding information from the internet, or organisational tasks such as adding items to a calendar. It’s particularly useful in hands-free environments, useful for setting timers when cooking or calling a friend on the go.

If a user asks a pub-quiz type question, the intelligent personal assistant will search the internet for the answer and reply. Common intelligent robot assistants that perform this function are Amazon Echo/Alexa, Cortana, Siri and Google Now.

In addition to this, Amazon Echo can now connect to other enabled devices in your home and perform tasks for you, from switching on lights to setting your cooker timer, all through voice commands. But Amazon Echo doesn’t just work for you in the home, it can now also connect to certain services outside the home including Just Eat and Uber. At the same time, Amazon Echo uses artificial intelligence to continually improve the user experience, so the more you use it, the more it can do for you.

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