Leveraging Voice Technology Successfully Requires that it be Custom, Unique
As COVID-19 swept through the United States, the hospitality industry was one of the first to feel its impact—according to McKinsey, occupancy rates in economy hotels dropped to around 40% in May compared to May 2019, when the occupancy rate was at 68.7%. As more states and their respective economies opened with new protocols in place, consumers became wary of any type of physical interaction or touching of common surfaces. Tasks such as checking into a hotel or activities like using a TV remote in a hotel room have left consumers second guessing their safety levels.
To help mitigate consumers’ fears about staying in hotels, now is the time for the hospitality industry to leverage voice solutions, which are contactless by design, on a greater scale. Research shows that 79% of hoteliers planned to invest in voice-enabled technology in 2020, but truly successful voice implementations go beyond simply installing voice assistants or similar solutions in rooms. To separate themselves from their competition, hospitality brands should look to incorporate custom voices that are unique to their brands into their hotel experience.
To best leverage custom voices into their strategies, here are the considerations hospitality brands should keep in mind.
The State of Voice Technology Today
Voice technology has gained popularity in recent years. In 2019, 26.2% of U.S. adults had access to a smart speaker, with three out of four owners using them at least once per month. As more consumers become comfortable with leveraging voice technology in their daily routines, they’ll look to incorporate the technology in other parts of their lives.
Research shows that 60% of hotel guests reported that they are likely to use an in-room voice assistant to complete tasks such as requesting local information or wake up calls, order in-room dining and control the thermostat. Currently, some brands in the hospitality industry are leveraging voice assistants to control the lighting in rooms and operate the television to avoid touching light switches and remote controls. Some hospitality brands leverage voice technology so that consumers can request extra towels or a late checkout. While these initial implementations help to streamline the process of getting guests the answers they need and gives them more peace of mind and helps comply with safety protocols, they can go beyond this by investing in more personalized custom voice solutions that not only provide peace of mind, but help improve brand loyalty and recognition.
Bringing Your Brand to Life with Custom Voice
To best engage guests with voice technology, hospitality brands should look beyond the robotic voices found on today’s digital assistants. Hoteliers can work with voice partners, who specialize in developing custom voices, in order to do this effectively. Selecting the right voice partner will help brands make their voice a reality, helping them to see the value more quickly from their voice investment. As voice technology becomes more prominent and there are more solution providers to choose from, hospitality brands may become overwhelmed at the prospect of choosing a voice partner.
As brands continue to research different voice partners, there are some qualities that they should keep in mind to ensure that the partner they select meets their voice criteria. It is essential that a voice partner leverages the most effective technology available, prioritizes data privacy and has deep knowledge in quality assurance. These considerations help voice partners develop unique voices that brands create to align with their overall brand identity, compared to the robotic voices currently found in voice assistants. A trusted voice partner should leverage Deep Neural Network (DNN) technologies to ensure the custom voice is the highest quality to create the rich, lifelike experience for guests and to avoid the robotic voices that are used by current digital voice assistants. Hospitality brands should also ask how long their voice partner has had experience creating voices and how quickly a custom voice can be developed and deployed. Longstanding partners will be experienced in these technologies and will also be likely to create a custom voice more seamlessly and quickly. They will also likely have the ability to support multiple languages, a key consideration for brands with a global footprint.
Similar to how brands create visual branding collateral to match their brand personality, a custom voice must be instantly recognizable, engaging, memorable and consistent between locations. A custom voice must match the brand personality since it is an important part of a company’s sonic branding strategy. To create the right custom voice, hospitality brands need to think about the gender, tone, style of voice and personality to ensure that it matches the brand perception. If a hospitality brand does have a presence in multiple countries, it may also want to consider developing multiple voices, or multiple iterations of the same voice depending on regional guests’ preferences. For example, does each audience prefer a male to female voice? A slower or faster cadence? Should the voice have an accent? By taking these considerations into account, hospitality brands can more confidently create a voice with different iterations that guests enjoy interacting with, no matter where in the world they are.
As voice technology becomes more widely used to limit physical interactions, the hospitality industry can take the technology one step further to provide better guest accommodations and peace of mind. By selecting the right voice partner who can bring a custom voice to life, hospitality brands can set themselves up for success and provide exceptional guest experiences.