If you find yourself muttering to your computer at times, you can now put that idle chatter to good use and search for sailings on iCruise.com through spoken-language search.
The Delray Beach, Florida, cruise agency, a unit of WMPH Vacations, is now offering cruise search through naturally spoken phrases for Google Chrome users, and natural language search for all.
iCruise has added Cruise Finder Plus, through a partnership with Evature, as an alternative to its Cruise Finder search widget, where users use drop-down menus to enter destinations, sailing dates, number of nights and cruise line.
Instead, users can enter phrases such “7-night Carribbean cruise” or “14-night Brilliance of the Seas Rome” into the Cruise Finder Plus search box and they’ll trigger cruise results.
Alternately, Google Chrome users can just speak the phrases into their computers’ microphones to retrieve search results.
“Web users can’t always verbalize what they want online like they can with an actual travel agent,” says Uf Tukel, co-president of WMPH Vacations. “Cruise Finder Plus let them do that with immediate and accurate results.”
Tukel says Cruise Finder Plus uses Google’s voice recognition solution, but Evature is working on voice recognition technology, as well.
The search results generated from the natural language search seem to be fairly precise — if there are no cruises to a particular destination, then there are no results and iCruise usually states why.
iCruise.com says its use of natural language search is a cruise industry first.
But, don’t expect it to get wide adoption right away.
If it did, then that would be something to talk about.
Tukel says iCruise is on the right track with the free-text search box in that many of the users trying it out didn’t have a specific itinerary in mind.
“They have an idea where they want to go and when, but as a percentage of searches, very few are requesting a specific trip, brand or even a departure date,” Tukel says. “This tells us we are getting them very early in the planning phase.”