With AI-powered voice assistants taking over homes and phones, it’s time to not just keep up with customer expectations, but figure out how to exceed them. For voice chat use cases like Kayak’s integrated assistant, how to leverage voice and bots for amaze-and-delight experiences right now, and what’s next, don’t miss this VB Live event!

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With almost 100 million smart speakers in use by the end of 2018, and more than double that by 2020 — not to mention the countless devices that have downloaded Alexa and Google Assistant — companies are going to have to start reckoning with voice and chatbot platforms.

And that means being willing to take risks, says Matthias Keller, chief scientist and SVP of technology at travel giant Kayak. The company is now on every major voice platform, he says. It recently launched a new suggested “Travel Plans” Siri shortcut at WWDC, and became a launch partner with Amazon for their new display language and reminders for Alexa. It’s pioneering a wide array of potential new customer-grabbers, he says, but voice and chat is rich but uncharted territory.

“Not everything you do here is going to work,” Keller says. “You’re going to start something and you may realize a year later, or even earlier, that it just makes no sense. But you have to start early on with understanding these platforms, understanding how they fit with your business.”

The space is maturing — if you design for Alexa now, there are countless webinars and consultants and tutorials.There are somewhere between 50,000 and 100,000 skills now, Keller says, and it’s fairly easy to build another one to add to the pile.

But working out what it means to be conversational, what customers want, and what customers are willing to do via voice chat is still in flux, and the risk is that nobody really understands the space fully yet.

“What’s maybe missing right now is skills that do something that can truly only be done on voice,” he says. “A lot of skills are things where a web page could do the same thing, in a way. It’s great that this information is now hands-free, but I think there’s the challenge of really thinking about what makes sense on voice and what doesn’t. It’s definitely true that some tasks are just too complex.”

Jumping into the space now means being willing to take the risk, and also willing to iterate out of all these failures that come simply from being in that early front — not being able to access what everyone else has done because you’re the first one doing it, he says.

“There’s a benefit of having all these learnings and being ahead of the others,” he says, “but that also calls for extra effort.”

What Kayak finds most exciting about voice is that it’s an opportunity to be closer to its users, as devices get more powerful and displays become integrated, enabling the company to continue to add new skills and avenues for users to explore.

They started with questions like, ‘where can I go for $500?’ and various other flight and hotel price searches, but have been continuously adding content, such as alerts when flights land, reminders set against a moving target, and slideshows and city guides for the users who have devices with a screen.

“Right now we’re focusing on using voice devices to interact with our brands before we go into deeper use cases that are more complicated,” he explains. ” We’re looking for ways to always make it more interesting and make it more sticky, and we’re confident that there is a future coming up where you can buy on the device and pay with Amazon.”

Right now it’s a non-monetizing channel, and the company’s paid marketing is still focused these days on getting users to their monetized channels, but the early adopters, the cutting-edge technologists, are out there, using their voice assistants for more than telling Google or Alexa or Siri to play a music track. Consumers are getting more and more accustomed to their devices and voice interaction as these tools gain greater market penetration, and Kayak is just beginning to explore the potential use cases.

“I understand everyone who wants to book a really complex trip on a real computer with a real screen, not on a phone or on Alexa,” he says. “But there are so many other different things that can be done with a bot, with voice, with a smart speaker, with a mobile phone.”

To learn more about the risks — and big benefits — of being an early adopter, the growing potential of trusted AI voice assistants, and how to use voice and bots to create powerful user engagement, don’t miss this VB Live event!


Don’t miss out!

Register for free here.


Attend this webinar and learn:

  • How bots and voice are uniquely positioned to help customers make purchasing decisions
  • How brands can address the advantages of integrated bots and an AI trusted assistant like Alexa
  • The best ways to leverage voice and bots to optimize the customer experience
  • What’s next for voice and bots

Speakers:

  • Matthias Keller, Chief Scientist & SVP Technology, Kayak
  • Ryan Lester, Director, Customer Engagement Technologies, LogMeIn
  • Rachael Brownell, Moderator, VentureBeat

Sponsored by LogMeIn