Technology

Google’s head of travel on how to win in the “Age of Assistance”

Huntley Mitchell

Huntley Mitchell

Travel Weekly was front and centre for the first keynote session today at the 2018 Global Tourism Summit in Hawaii, and Google’s Susie Vowinkel didn’t disappoint.

The tech giant’s head of travel and director of global partnerships started off her talk in the cleverest of ways, saying she had a special relationship with Alexa.

It turns out Vowinkel was referring to her seven-year-old daughter – not Amazon’s assistant.

She went on to define assistance in this day and age as not just being about smart speaker devices or voice search, but about helping people get things done.

“It’s giving people the right things at the right moment that are going to help them through their journey. I think this is particularly important in travel,” Vowinkel told summit attendees.

Google’s travel guru identified three key consumer behaviours that travel organisations and agents need to fully understand in order to succeed in the ‘Age of Assistance’.

The first key trait of consumers, according to Vowinkel, is that they are more curious than ever.

“They are searching for so many new things, and want you to anticipate what it is they’re curious about and their needs,” she said.

Vowinkel urged the audience to focus on getting the right information in front of travellers quickly and being assistive throughout the journey to answer their curiosity.

Susie Vowinkel (Global Tourism Summit) [2]

The second key behaviour of consumers: they’re demanding. Vowinkel said that over 64 per cent of consumers expect that they will see content specific to them and their needs.

Her advice? Customise content for different groups of travellers, identify consumer needs and provide relevant recommendations.

Google’s travel boss identified impatience as the third key trait of consumers, challenging summit attendees to be the leader in travel and site speed (Google recommends companies’ site speed to be sitting at an average of three seconds).

Vowinkel also noted the importance of travel organisations knowing how their mobile site stacks up (Google offers a mobile scorecard and impact calculator to work this out).

In closing, Vowinkel admitted that while the rise of technology such as robots and artificial intelligence is a little intimidating, nothing can replace the actual human experience and interaction when it comes to travel.

“I don’t think we can replace that with videos, and we’re always going to be wanting to experience destinations live,” she said.

“[Technology] is to complement the human experience.”

SEE WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING

Events

Why you and your team should pay a visit to ‘Dialogue in the Dark’

by Huntley Mitchell

Dialogue in the Dark was the most eye-opening experience for the Travel Weekly team at AIME, despite not being able to see for the entire workshop.

Share

CommentComments

Events

Clear intentions crucial for making lasting connections, says networking strategist

by Huntley Mitchell

A prominent networking expert reckons cruel intentions are key for making valuable connections. Whoops, sorry! that should read ‘clear intentions’.

Share

CommentComments

Destinations

Chinese tourists cancel trips to “punish” New Zealand

by Ali Coulton

A cooling of relations between China and New Zealand has turned icy as Chinese state media reports tourists are cancelling their trips to the land of the long white cloud.

Share

CommentComments

Destinations

Flight Centre’s Top Destinations to Visit for 2019 reveal cold is no longer hot

by Christian Fleetwood

The news comes as a shock to the Travel Weekly staff after a broken air conditioner forced us to convert our office into a sauna.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

BARGAIN: Indian airline to be sold for 1 cent

by Christian Fleetwood

Shares in this airline cost less than the price of a cup of coffee, but you might want to reconsider this bargain on the stock exchange.

Share

CommentComments

Destinations

From detention centre to tourism hotspot?

by Ali Coulton

Christmas Island has the potential to turn into Australia’s next tourism hotspot, but the government has other plans.

Share

CommentComments

Travel Agents

Wholesalers

Corporate Travel Management’s half-yearly profit growth soars

by Huntley Mitchell

CTM’s office bottle opener is set to get a workout today following some very positive financial results for the corporate travel player.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

Major US airlines to make gender option on tickets more inclusive

by Christian Fleetwood

In a big win for equality and inclusiveness, United and American Airlines will make it optional to leave gender as male or female—as well as unspecified or undisclosed.

Share

CommentComments

Tourism

Giddy up slow pokes! The first entry for our Women in Travel Awards is already in

by Christian Fleetwood

We’re considering giving this woman an award just for being the first to enter the WIT Awards two years in a row!

Share

CommentComments

Destinations

Tourism Authority of Thailand and Asia Escape Holidays entertain Perth agents

Meanwhile, we’re three hours behind deadline because we spent our morning researching our dream holiday in Phuket instead of doing our job.

Share

CommentComments

Cruise

Big fat cruise wrap

It’s Wednesday and that can only mean two things: Cruise Wrap and our turn to take the office dog to his weekly manicure.

Share

CommentComments

Midweek Interview

Midweek interview with East Hotel’s Todd Handy

This week, we took East Hotel’s general manager aside for an uber-private chat in a secret location. Okay, fine – we emailed him.

Share

CommentComments