- Google Assistant added flight check-in and hotel booking to its voice-activated services, according to a company announcement from the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. Google's digital assistant added the services to its existing features that let users search for upcoming flights, browse prices and track flight status with their voice.
- United Airlines is the first airline to offer Google's voice-enabled check-in to customers traveling domestically. By saying, "Hey Google, check in to my flight," the assistant will walk through the steps of checking in. Google plans to add more airlines and flights soon, per its announcement.
- Choice Hotels, AccorHotels, InterContinental Hotels, Priceline, Expedia, Mirai and Travelclick offer hotel booking through Google Assistant on Android and iOS devices. Expedia last year introduced hotel booking for the virtual assistant to customers who link their online accounts to the Expedia Action, an app that runs on Assistant, Travel and Leisure reported.
Airlines, hotels and marketers of other travel-related services are seeking to improve convenience for travelers with mobile apps and, increasingly, with voice-enabled services on digital assistants like Google's. The company is making inroads into the travel market with its new features for the Assistant, although travelers who need more advanced functions like re-booking flights or changing seats may still want to stick with the mobile apps from individual airlines, as the Assistant-powered features do not yet support these actions.
Google's airline check-in and hotel booking features are part of a broader set of services aimed at travelers, including its Interpreter Mode introduced this week at CES. That feature will give Google Assistant the ability to translate 27 different languages in near real time. Many hotel operators or other companies that cater to foreign travelers may want to consider using smart displays or Google Home devices that run Assistant to communicate with guests through verbal commands. Google is demonstrating Interpreter Mode at the concierge desks of several hotels before a wider rollout.
The search giant is adding a handful of new features to its Assistant as the company seeks to overcome Amazon for dominance in the connected home device market. While both companies have mobile apps for Android and iOS, Google has a preinstalled base that's 10 times bigger than Amazon's. That's not to say that every owner of an iPhone or smartphone that runs Android uses the Google Assistant, but the potential remains. Amazon said more than 100 million devices that work with Alexa have been sold, The Verge reported, while Google estimates its voice assistant's presence on a billion devices by the end of January.