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

Leave a Reply

Destinations

Tourism

Airbnb’s ‘Around the world in 80 days’ tour off to shaky start, after tour operators caution company

Travel Weekly was disappointed to learn that Jules Verne does not make an appearance on the tour, and hopes that Airbnb’s next tour, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea features the author.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

Ex-flight attendant reveals the most dangerous part of flying

An ex-flight attendant has told some eyebrow-raising stories of her time as a flight attendant, revealing the most dangerous part of her job.

Share

CommentComments

Tourism

TripAdvisor reveals travellers picks for the world’s best experiences

Our friends at TripAdvisor have revealed the best experiences in the world, while the best experience of our day has been a burnt tongue from a hot cup of coffee.

Share

CommentComments

Travel Agents

Diversity, technology and the three-year picture: Three things we’ve learnt about Travel Counsellors

by Christian Fleetwood

TCX revealed some important insights into how Travel Counsellors do what they do. Here are three that stood out from the conference in Adelaide.

Share

CommentComments

Tourism

Aussie tourist slapped with $2,500 fee over broken nail

A friendly reminder to travellers heading to the US to PLEASE get travel insurance.

Share

CommentComments

Travel Agents

“Consumers have rights”: Dodgy travel agency busted by QLD grandmother

by Ali Coulton

Similarly, Travel Weekly’s editor has been busted taking more than his fair share of the office Tim Tam supply, which we find equally troubling.

Share

CommentComments

Road & Rail

Paris to phase out iconic paper metro tickets

It’s the end of an era folks: Say goodbye to finding Paris metro tickets in every jean and jacket pocket weeks after returning home.

Share

CommentComments

Tourism

RESEARCH: Aussie travellers cutting down length of overseas trips

Meanwhile, Travel Weekly staff are looking to buck the trend and find ways to EXTEND their overseas trips and spend less time in the office.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

Aviation wrap: Emirates to reduce single-use plastic, Qantas’ new plane order, Western Sydney Airport update + MORE!

Felt a little in the dark lately about what’s been happening in the world of commercial aviation? This airline wrap should provide all the illumination you need.

Share

CommentComments

Breaking News

Travel Agents

Helloworld wins extension for prized government contract

It’s champagne and pats on the back throughout Helloworld offices today as the agency’s subsidiary QBT cops two more years to its government contract.

Share

CommentComments

Aviation

Boeing facing class action by 400-plus pilots over 737 MAX’s “unprecedented cover-up”

More than 400 pilots have issued a class-action lawsuit against Boeing – the first of its kind to be issued against the company – over its problematic 737 MAX jet.

Share

CommentComments

Events

Get the gang together: Buy two Travel DAZE tickets and get one free!

With savings like these, you’re practically LOSING money if you don’t attend. Well, sort of.

Share

CommentComments