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Travel metasearch websites have long prospered with consumers by offering a simple strategy: combine lots of potential travel options from lots of different websites into a single user interface.
But the travel world is changing.
New devices like the Echo (a smart speaker developed by Amazon.com capable of voice interaction, music playback, making to-do lists, setting alarms, streaming podcasts, playing audiobooks, and providing weather, traffic and other real time information) and growing use of digital assistants like Google Now and Siri are altering how people search.
For Shane Corstorphine, General Manager Americas at Skyscanner, metasearch role are becoming one of a platform to enable partners to rapidly access new distribution channels like app, voice or virtual assistants.
B2B partnerships are a fast growing part of Skyscanner’s business and another ‘industry first’ of 2015 was the integration of its flight API into Alexa, Amazon’s cloud-based voice service. Amazon has also integrated Kayak’s API.
Skyscanner sees this rise of voice search and virtual assistants as growing trends that cannot be ignored.
Today Apple's Siri, Microsoft's Cortana and Google Now are already a feature of most smartphones.
In a recent MIT Technology Review Andrew Ng, chief scientist at search engine Baidu, and associate professor at Stanford, said that voice “may soon be reliable enough to be used for interacting with all sorts of devices”.
When booking a flight through Alexa, the user is not aware that Skyscanner is powering the back end and they don’t need to be.
This, argues Corstorphine, is the future of metasearch.