Now you can use your virtual assistant for something new: booking travel. On Wednesday, Kayak announced that customers will now be able to book travel through their Amazon Echo devices.
The process is pretty simple. After enabling the Kayak skill in the Alexa app, users can link the two accounts. Once setup is complete, simply say “Alexa, ask Kayak to book me a hotel room in Orlando.” From there, Alexa will give you a bookable option. If you like the selection, your Kayak account will be used to confirm the reservation.
Even though Amazon has pretty much taken over the world, it hasn’t yet gotten to the travel category. All booking transactions actually take users through Booking.com or Priceline — which are a part of the Priceline Group (PCLN), along with Kayak.
Other commands Alexa understands are:
- “Alexa, ask Kayak, when is my next trip?”
- “Alexa, ask Kayak, when is my next flight?”
- Search by flight cabin class: “Alexa, ask Kayak how much is a business-class ticket to…”
- Set up a Price Alert to track flight prices: “Alexa, ask Kayak how much is a flight to Miami next week” and Alexa will respond asking if you’d like to create a Price Alert.
People crave simplicity when it comes to booking travel. Over the years, fewer people are choosing to book trips through human travel agents. In fact, Statistics Brain says that 57% of all travel bookings are made on the internet. When it comes to hotels, about 65% of same-day reservations are made from a smartphone.
So it makes sense that Kayak is exploring other ways to drive people to its travel platform, and it isn’t the only one. In April, Google added flight search commands to its Google Home voice-activated personal assistant.
By asking a simple question like, “How much are flights to Orlando on August 15,” Google Home will come back with different results. With Google Home, you can get more refined results by asking questions like:
- “Find me flights with United.”
- “I’d like to return on August 19.”
- “Find me nonstop flights.”
Travelers can also find out details on their existing flight reservations (if there are any delays, for instance), set price alerts and find popular activities to do at your destination.
Booking travel by voice command might be fun, but the technology still has a long way to go. One big caveat about these new features: Neither the Echo nor Google Home lets you actually book flights (you can make hotel reservations through Alexa) – meaning you’ll have to log onto your mobile device or computer to confirm an airline reservation. Another setback is the inability to see photos of the hotel or property you’re booking. This doesn’t matter as much with flights, but booking a hotel that you haven’t seen takes a considerable amount of bravery.
Brittany is a reporter at Yahoo Finance.