Passenger Services & Wayfinding // //

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.

FTE Europe 2016 will take place at RAI Amsterdam

FTE Europe 2016 will take place at RAI Amsterdam from 25-26 April 2016.

Prepare for the passenger experience of 2025 at FTE Europe 2016, 25-26 April, Amsterdam

Future Travel Experience Europe 2016 (25-26 April, RAI Amsterdam) will be the region’s most forward-thinking passenger experience event this year, thanks to the ‘Passenger Experience 2025’ theme, inspirational keynote addresses by Philips Head of Design Pierre-Yves Panis and SkyTeam CEO Perry Cantarutti, two unique conference agendas, an Air France-KLM Innovation Symposium, the Co-creation Forum Europe, the FTE Bag Drop Symposium, an end-to-end exhibition and a social agenda based around the world famous King’s Day celebrations.

Senior figures from the likes of Google, IATA, easyJet, CitizenM, Vueling, daa, Air France-KLM, Schiphol Group, Ryanair, Gatwick Airport, Finavia, Lufthansa, Air New Zealand and Swedavia will address delegates in the ‘On the Ground’ conference, providing an unmatched learning environment. Each of these leading industry experts will share their passenger experience visions and outline how they are planning to leverage new and emerging technologies, ranging from artificial intelligence and robotics, to biometric technology and mobile-enabled digital personalisation, to improve the passenger experience and enhance operational efficiency.

» View the full FTE Europe ‘On the Ground’ conference agenda

» Register to attend FTE Europe 2016

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