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Air New Zealand on-boards Amazon’s digital side-kick Alexa

Air New Zealand on-boards Amazon’s digital side-kick Alexa

Device will hit stores in New Zealand and Australia in early February

Air New Zealand has unveiled plans to launch Alexa, becoming one of the first airlines across Australasia to on-board Amazon’s digital assistant tool.

The device will hit stores in New Zealand and Australia in early February, with an Air New Zealand feature to be made available through the Amazon Alexa skill store.

According to the airline, the offering with allow customers to “conveniently check” flight statuses.

“Voice is an increasingly popular channel in this market and to ensure we use it effectively we’ve spent considerable time researching user habits on voice services,” Air New Zealand chief digital officer Avi Golan said.

“What we’ve learnt is using services like Alexa can require a step change in behaviours so it’s been critical that we keep our skill simple initially and make it easy for customers to use.”

Golan said Air New Zealand’s Alexa skill will initially be available in New Zealand and Australia, with plans in place to roll it out to additional markets as well as add further skills in the future.

“Imagine having your hands full making last minute travel preparations and being able to ask Air New Zealand to confirm your flight time without having to manually look it up on a device,” Golan added.

“As more people become familiar with this type of technology we’ll look to build on what we can do.”

The airline has been increasingly experimenting with artificial intelligence during the past 12 months, after introducing online chatbot Oscar to assist customers with commonly asked flight, baggage, lounge and Airpoints queries.

According to Golan, his performance has “steadily improved” with every interaction, with the chatbot now averaging more than 900 conversations per day with customers, alongside a conversation success rate of more than 70 per cent.

In addition, the airline partnered with Swiss company Winding Tree in November 2017, in a bid to explore the use of blockchain in its business.

The airline is also investing in the company through a token sale, scheduled for January, according to a Reuters report.

Such sales, or initial coin offerings, enable blockchain start-ups to raise funds without regulatory oversight.


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