Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Throw your keyboard onto the fire

A few months back, Vic Darvey from Lastminute.com told Travolution that 2006 would be the year that Voice Over IP really starts to kick in.

He was actually talking in relation to how he expected travel companies to communicate internally and also with their clients.

[Read the feature in Travolution 3.0] [What is VOIP? Click here]

It now emerges that another online travel company is about to test the water using that rather more fickle group of people, most call consumers.

This will not be with VOIP per se, but using voice recognition software to allow consumers to effectively “self-serve” on a travel website.

Flythomascook.com, the site for low cost air tickets on Thomas Cook charter flights, is to pilot the system with technology company RightNow, who have just been picked to handle other CRM duties.

[Read the news story]

This is an interesting development in many respects. In the past, many journalists, for example, played around with voice recognition software when trying to find an easy [lazy?] way of transcribing recorded interviews or panel discussions.

At the time the gear was often not up to the job, with accents or the quality of the recording playing a key factor in whether the software actually picked everything up verbatim.

Clearly those days are long gone. If Flythomascook.com’s trial is successful, then the opportunities for them and other travel sites will become very exciting.

In its simplest form users will be able to book travel products purely by talking to computer.

In the meantime, the advances in VOIP, where one of the leading providers, Skype, has been widely predicted to come to the fore during 2006, though it’s more likely to me next year now, could speed up enthusiasm with consumers.

Clearly it will be a long while before waste bins across the land are filled with computer keyboards.

But it’s a gradual step towards how differently consumers will interact with the Internet in general and travel sites in particular.

Kevin May, editor, Travolution

1 comment:

Chris F. said...

I'm seeing more and more websites with Skype buttons on them, so I guess there is an increasing demand for VOIP communications among end usrs.