A few months ago, we blogged about innovative voice solutions supporting people during the initial phases of the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, wherever you are in the world, whether enjoying a staycation or venturing further afield, in your country or abroad, we hope that the rest of your summer is safe and relaxing.

For those of you who are working during the summer, we hope you can enjoy some fun times too.

Solutions for the Post-COVID-19 Era

During this pivotal summer of 2020, organizations and governments across the EU have been working hard to contain and eradicate the COVID-19 pandemic on numerous levels.

Much effort is being dedicated to coordinating responses to the virus, supporting national healthcare systems, developing a vaccine, and researching treatment – not to mention putting together a range of packages to support significantly impacted industries.

One of these sectors is of course the travel and hospitality sector. A recent report by the European Commission outlined the safety protocols that the European Union is putting in place to ensure safety and efficiency in travel and hospitality, in 2020 and beyond.

The report states that at national level, institutions have put significant effort into enabling citizens to enjoy some respite from the difficulties they have experienced over the past few months. It explains that people need to be empowered to protect themselves and others. To achieve this, it is paramount that they have access to up-to-date digital information about their travel plans including health & safety updates on their accommodation, and the locations they will be visiting.

Digital Technologies Have an Important Role

Moreover, it is important for the information to be cohesive across the EU Member States, be obtainable and understandable by speakers of different languages. To date, some measures are in place, while others are still work in progress.

As the global situation we are experiencing today appears to be the ‘new normal’, it is likely that the services and protocols developed in 2020 will remain in place for quite some time.

According to the report, “Digital technologies and data have a valuable role to play in combating the pandemic. Mobile applications could bolster contact-tracing strategies and support public health authorities in monitoring and containing the spread of the virus. Artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics can also help monitoring physical distancing in line with data protection law or facilitating disinfection, especially in places with regular tourism flows. The European Commission will deploy through the Digital Innovation Hubs dedicated support for local tourism businesses to help them cope with the new realities of the tourism season (i.e. robots for disinfecting and cleaning, crowd management, smart booking systems etc )…”.

Widespread Contact Tracing is Key

The report also states: “As travel in the EU resumes, public authorities, commuters, business travelers, and tourists can use contact tracing apps to their benefit, while respecting privacy requirements, data protection rules and voluntary use of such apps. For this, interoperability is key so that users are warned by their app no matter where they are in Europe. The Commission and the Member States are working to ensure this: today a protocol on interoperability principles is published, developed by the Member States through the e-health network, with the support of the Commission.”

A whole array of digital and voice solutions are being developed so that businesses and governments can plan the way they provide hospitality while managing visitor affluence to specific locations, e.g. the number of people who can safely visit a museum, or the maximum number of diners allowed in restaurants whilst still maintaining social distancing.

How Can AI-Driven Voice Solutions Help?

AI-driven voice solutions can help make these solutions more accessible to a wider user base, including those who are not technologically savvy enough to use an app on their smartphone. For these users, high-quality synthetic speech output can be a critical element in communicating essential contact tracing information.

From Seamless to Touchless

Before the pandemic, CX (customer experience) experts strived to make interaction with services and brands seamless. In the world of travel and hospitality, the buzzword was all about making every single step of a journey – before, during and after – an experience that was effortless yet highly tailored to the customer’s unique needs and interests.

Today, a seamless experience is still highly desirable, but contactless is now the ultimate goal. We are now well aware of the risks associated with physical touch points – and this has promoted the touchless customer experience to being the ultimate goal for everyone.

Socially Distanced Hospitality with Voicebots

For some time now, hotels around the world have been offering digital check-in, digital room keys, and more recently in-room voice interaction. In the post-COVID-19 landscape, the need to develop and deploy effective solutions to eliminate health risks for guests and staff has become essential.

On August 16th, MSC Grandiosa was the first Mediterranean cruise ship to set sail after a five-month forced stop as a result of the pandemic. Over a year ago, we proudly announced that ZOE, the world’s first virtual personal cruise assistant powered by artificial intelligence and designed exclusively for MSC Cruises’ guests uses a ReadSpeaker text-to-speech voice.

ZOE – A Key Asset for a Safer Cruise Experience

And from this landmark week onboard MSC Cruises, ZOE’s role will be even more important, as the AI assistant handles guests’ questions from the safety of their cabin, enabling social distancing measures to be enforced and eliminating the need for queuing in the ship’s communal areas. Hotel brands around the world are looking into AI-powered concierge services that provide customers with bespoke contactless service throughout their stay, and beyond.

Ask Us About the Benefits of ReadSpeaker Voices

Are you involved in creating the next voice solutions for the hospitality industry? Would you like your services to be perceived as unique, trustworthy, and customer-centric? Please contact the ReadSpeaker team to ask us how we can help make your service speak to consumers in the most engaging way.