Voice on command is not just for the guestroom; Hoteliers are finding the Google Assistant’s interpreter mode + Volara to easily and accurately streamline guest communication

By Dave Berger

Research suggests that customer-experience (CX) technologies that serve every touchpoint, add personalization and drive satisfaction were at the top of operators’ wish lists for 2020. To be effective and deliver a rapid return on investment, these solutions must successfully delight guests, increase operational efficiencies, inspire loyalty, and generate profits. One technology that is checking all these boxes – yet is often overlooked – is digital voice translation.

Considering that 55% of households are expected to own smart speaker devices by 2022 and 50% of all online searches will be voice-based by 2020, demand for hyper-convenient voice interactions while traveling is on the rise. Powering rooms with voice controls is gaining momentum (30% of hoteliers say they plan to bring voice controls to the guestroom in the coming year), but hoteliers need to expand their voice strategies beyond those four walls to drive customer satisfaction, loyalty and revenues – especially if the hotel or brand is favored by international travelers.

Global Travel Growth Sparks Demand for Voice Translation

Amadeus commissioned a study to explore the trends shaping the future of travel. What it found was that Asia – home to about 4.46 billion people speaking nearly 2,300 languages – will account for almost 22% of global arrivals by 2020 (up from 18% in 2008) and the region’s residents will represent 32% of travel spending by 2020. To compete for a share of these travel dollars, hoteliers will need to communicate with these visitors who are fluent in Chinese, Hindi, English, Russian, Indonesian and Japanese. Furthermore, Europe is expected to produce 400 million more outbound travelers in 2020 than in prior years, most of whom will be speaking Russian, German, French, English, Turkish, Italian, Spanish, Ukrainian, Polish and Dutch.

To help people better connect and get help, the Google Assistant introduced a featured called interpreter mode that translates conversations in real time. Provisioned and managed by Volara, named the ‘Best Voice Activated Tech Product of 2020’ by HotelTechReport last week, the technology is now being rolled out to hotels that will enable staff to communicate with global guests easily – and in their native language.

The new voice translation technology is improving the quality of interactions between hotel staff and guests, resulting in better communications and high-value service. Google Assistant’s Interpreter Mode can translate 29 languages in real time, including: Arabic, Chinese (Mandarin and Cantonese), Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Hindi, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian and Vietnamese.

With Volara’s support, hotels can receive a Google Nest Hub to place at their front desk or Concierge station. When a guest needing translation assistance approaches, the staff simply says “Hey, Google, be my Spanish interpreter.” Then, the interpreter mode will show text on the screen that translates their words as they speak and repeat the message in English.

This technology will enable international travelers to receive voice-automated professional hospitality in real time when they travel.

The Google Assistant’s Interpreter Mode + Volara Places Hyper-Focus on Staff

While this translation technology is driving hyper-convenient interactions with guests, it is also enabling hoteliers to elevate their staff. According to the 2019 Customer Engagement Technology Study, 42% of hoteliers will be investing in staff-facing technologies in 2020 to enhance the customer experience. Happy employees mean happy guests, and happy guests spend more money. By giving hotel staff tools that will make it easier for them to do their jobs, it will ultimately increase guest satisfaction and drive revenues. Perhaps that’s why 27% of hoteliers say they plan to add guest-facing self-service technology next year, and 24% are looking for technologies that automate service – both of which can be accomplished by the Google Assistant interpreter mode.

When looking at the key to unlocking ROI from customer experience technology, 2019 CET Study authors Daniel Connolly, Dean of the College of Business & Public Administration at Drake University, and Jungsun (Sunny) Kim, Associate Professor at the William F. Harrah College of Hospitality, UNLV, had this to say: “To remain relevant and competitive, hospitality leaders must be agile enough to adapt to shifting consumer demands and have a willingness to take calculated risks into uncharted territory if they are to stand out and capture new market share.”

 Digital voice translation technology may be uncharted territory to some, but those agile hotels and brands who are embracing it are finding it to be the missing link for improving guest engagement.