Ryanair customers will soon be able to use their voices to search for and book flights and hotels as the budget airline introduces Alexa voice recognition.
Speaking at a press conference today (2 August) the airline’s CMO Kenny Jacobs said the changes form part of its ‘Always Getting Better’ customer experience programme as it looks to become the “Amazon of travel”.
At first, the functionality will only be available on Ryanair.com, but Jacobs told Marketing Week that it plans to introduce voice recognition to its MyRyanair app as well. Some 24 million people have downloaded the app since it was first launched in 2014. It is also planning to add a chatbot to provide customer service.
“Everything on the website you can now do through the MyRyanair app. In the future chatbots and voice recognition will sit alongside the app to help our customer offering,” Jacobs explained.
Ryanair is not the first European airline to launch on Amazon Alexa. Earlier this year, EasyJet launched a ‘skill’ for the service that allows passengers to check their flight status. However, Ryanair’s service goes one step further by integrating voice recognition across the site and app to allow customers to perform a range of actions including flight searches.
Further updates include a ‘Get me home’ feature on the app, allowing users to find their best route home and next available flight. The airline is also introducing new slimline seats on its Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, which will offer more leg room.
Reaching one billion customers
Ryanair has credited the AGB programme with spurring customer growth. The airline has now carried more than 1 billion passengers since its first flight took off from Waterford to London Gatwick in July 1985, the first European airline to reach this milestone.
It has implemented improvements including allowing people to have two pieces of carry-on baggage, allocated seating and reducing extra charges.
However, the airline is facing a growing backlash over its seating policy, with many believing it is actively separating families and those flying together in order to push customers towards its reserved seat service, which costs a small fee. Jacobs denied this was the case and said the fact more people on the same booking are being seated separately is down to reserved seats being in demand.
“50% of customers now choose to reserve a seat compared to 40% in January. It all comes down to customer choice,” Jacobs said.