Over 35.6 million Americans use voice assistance regularly and while that’s an increase of 130% since 2016, the number is expected to rise sharply in the next few years.
Some estimates claim that by 2020 voice assistance will account for 50% of all web searches and 30% of all searches will be done without a screen.
We’re already seeing evidence of this trend in the retail industry where during the 2017 holiday shopping season, 1 in 4 shoppers used voice assistance to inform their purchase decisions.
As the voice-assistance revolution unfolds, it’s natural to ask (probably Alexa or Google), ‘How will voice assistance change events?’
Premier hotel chains are already implementing voice-assistance initiatives to attract savvy business professionals.
In 2016, Steve Wynn, chairman and CEO of Wynn Resorts, announced that all 4,478 hotel rooms at the Wynn Las Vegas would have an Echo by summer 2017.
At the same time, Starwood’s Aloft properties unveiled Project Jetson, an initiative using Apple’s Siri to let guests adjust room temperature, turn off lights, and perform a range of other tasks. The JW Marriott in San Antonio is currently piloting Echo Dots in many of their rooms as well.
In June of this year, Amazon responded to this emerging market by releasing Alexa for Hospitality. Alexa for Hospitality is billed as your guests’ virtual concierge service with the ability to: play music, order towels, control in-room temperature and lighting, find local restaurants and attractions, place calls, and even check you out of your hotel room.
Now imagine if voice assistants in hotel rooms could answer attendee questions about your event too. That functionality may not be too far off in the future.
Smart Assistance at Events
This past year, Messe Frankfurt, the world’s largest trade fair, congress and event organizer, deployed cloud-based voice assistants at its Hypermotion event. In a press release for the event, the company stated: “For the very first time, exhibitors and visitors will not only have hostesses and hosts to help them but can also direct their questions to ‘Alexa’.”
This takes attendee assistance to a new level. No more navigating to the information desk to get help, instead, simply ask a strategically placed voice assistant.
Chatbot companies like Sciensio, could easily add this to their existing AI response system (which we recently explored in this article) to provide attendees yet another avenue for having their on-site questions answered.
While we cannot claim to know the future, it doesn’t take much imagination to anticipate the following functions being part of a voice assistant conference experience:
- Registering for an event
- Adding sessions to your calendar
- Messaging a friend your conference itinerary and availability
- Inquiring about session and exhibition details
We’ll have to wait and see how this technology advances, but one thing is for sure: as attendees come to rely on voice assistance in their daily lives, they will increasingly desire and expect the same level of convenience from your organization and event technology.