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Microsoft’s Skype Translator presents customer service opportunities for airports and airlines


When Microsoft this week released the first insight into the Skype Translator, it got us thinking here at FTE about how it could be used by airlines, airports and industry suppliers to help improve multi-lingual customer service.

The innovative new tool, which is being jointly developed by Skype and Microsoft Research teams, combines voice IM technologies with Microsoft translator and neural-network-based speech recognition to deliver near-real-time cross-language communication. In other words, two people can have a near-real-time Skype video conversation with one another even if they don’t speak the same language.

Being such an international business, the travel industry could surely make use of this development, which will be available as a Windows beta app before the end of 2014.

Take Munich Airport’s InfoGates or the Faceport kiosk, for instance, which make use of videoconferencing and telepresence technology to enable video-based communication between a passenger and an offsite agent. If this new real-time speech translation technology was to be integrated, every single passenger would be able to interact with the agents in their native tongue, without having to worry about potential language barriers. No doubt, the integration of the two products is easier said than done, but we’re sure the industry has enough talent to make this a reality.

Alternatively, before travelling, if a passenger had any questions or concerns about their upcoming trip, rather than searching online or phoning a call centre (and provided they have an Internet connection), they could instead have a Skype call with an airline or airport agent, regardless of which language they speak.

Simplifying the travel experience for passengers of various nationalities is a task that has previously been tackled by offering multi-lingual signage and text translation apps, but the Skype Translator may provide an ideal tool to help airlines and airports take their multi-lingual customer service to the next level.

Future Travel Experience Europe 2015

Interested in learning more about improving your passenger experience? At FTE Europe 2015, which will take place in London from 2-4 February 2015, senior speakers from the likes of Heathrow Airport, Ryanair, Swedavia, Norwegian Air Shuttle, Munich Airport, Virgin Atlantic, Expedia, London City Airport, IATA, Air France-KLM, London Stansted Airport, Lufthansa, Bechtel, Gatwick Airport and United Airlines will share their latest passenger-focused plans and visions in the 'On the Ground' conference.

The event will also include a dedicated 'Up in the Air' conference stream, IATA workshop, an extensive exhibition, tours of Heathrow T2, London Stansted and London City Airport, and a 'Best of British' Gala Evening at Altitude 360 @ Altitude London, London's premier sky venue which offers jetliner views of the city.

» View the full FTE Europe 2015 'On the Ground' agenda

» Register to attend FTE Europe 2015

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